The 8 lessons Ebola is teaching Africans

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By Tunde Asaju

Whatapp NewsTelegram News

Death is the only teacher greater than adversity. To most Naija people, it does not matter what Patrick Sawyer’s wife says about her late husband’s motive for exporting Ebola to Naija; here he is a viral terrorist. Vivienne Sawyer believes her husband came here because he thought that ‘Big Brother’ had the vaccine or the cure. If true, he was acting on the statement of our propaganda minister. At any rate, it is faster to get to Lagos for Monrovia than to fly to New York. We’ll never find out about Sawyer’s mens rea. Ebola is breaking down the barriers of culture, religion and class. By the last count, it has taught ten visible lessons to the continent that hardly bulges. Lesson one says you can speak ill of the dead. President Jones broke the taboo when he literally called late Sawyer a viral terrorist. That boldness sent citizens petitioning heaven to send Sawyer to the worst part of hell. If God answers such prayers, then Sani Abacha has a worthy companion; years back, the late Gani Fawehinmi prayed God to send Abacha to that part of gehenna. The second lesson is – that cluelessness is a bottomless pit. When your president announces N1.9 billion funds to fight a scourge only to end up launching a hand sanitizer with pomp and fanfare, there is trouble everywhere. Last week, a Nigerian kid in New York asked his parents if it is true that most Africans still live on trees. The question jolted the parents but the kid wondered why the head of Africa’s fasted growing economy was smiling sheepishly at a hand sanitizer that they were born to know and use in lavatories, train stations, shopping malls and classrooms.

[eap_ad_1] Lesson three says in a battle between tradition and survival, the latter always win.  Suddenly, the ancient tradition of keeping the dead refrigerated while the living goes a borrowing for pomp and fanfare is dying. So are traditions, which insist that the dead be interred in their bedrooms, for their souls to rest in peace. With the arrival of Ebola, cremation is in; the infected and suspected are quarantined and when they die all the drama of widows and inconsolable siblings or children threatening to jump into the graves have ceased. They all watch obsequies from a safe distance. Lesson four says, it’s binding even if you don’t shake on it. The idea of sealing a deal with a handshake or pumping the hands of friends unnecessarily is dead. Ebola-ravaged countries are quickly evolving inventive non-contact forms of greetings and sealing deals. Give it to the first wife, Mama Peace who test-rode the knuckled two hands greeting in Warsaw, Poland last week. Gone are the handshakes that transcend the elbow and the infamous French kiss. Mama Peace invented this one, two hands jammed together in one. Lesson five is a reveals that religious leaders are human after all. We used to think that they are so holy they do not use the lavatory, now we know better. Who knows, Ebola may even cure spiritual charlatanism. Lagos health officials visited Synagogue and sealed off potential Ebola healing miracles. A bishop in Abuja invented a new way of passing the sacrament while the usual post-sallat handshake is no longer the best seal of brotherhood. Nevertheless, I predict a boost in the sale of Ebola-erasing anointing oil, holy water, mantle and amulets. Most people bought into the hot salt water immunity. The sixth lesson is a prediction – except Ebola yields to a vaccine, marriage vows are bound to change. Before you sign the dotted lines, make sure the priest has inserted the words – till Ebola do us part. The jury is out on this one. While one religion believes there is no marriage in heaven another promises delectable bounties for martyrs. Since nobody wants to die, it is better to live than rush off and be disappointed. Only George Orwell could have foreseen lesson seven. In Animal Farm; beasts dreamt of their freedom from human tyranny.  It may not be far off. Those with long throats for bush meat are reconsidering their passion. Last week, a congress were seen dancing kpalongo on the trees with a poster reading – Touch me if you dare! The African quest to decimate everything from baboons to bats; snakes to salamanders are fast being replaced with the love of salt and water solutions. This must be welcome news for conservationists who have been fighting hard to save species native to Africa without success. With time, grasscutters may yet flourish as our neighbours with the domestic closeness of the famous agama lizard. The eighth lesson is a sad one.  I understand parents of student doctors, nurses and allied courses want their children to change course. This has nothing to do with President Jones’ order to sack striking doctors. No. They feel they have invested so much in their wards to risk losing them to a disease which kills within a 21 days. See why those striking doctors have refused to return to work? (Daily Trust)


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