Background to the Ebola tragedy in Africa: Part Three
PART One and Part Two looked at the irony which surrounds the Ebola tragedy which is currently unfolding in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Conakry and Liberia.
All three countries possess immense natural resources which Western corporations have been exploiting for many decades without giving anything in return.
The result is that countries which should be able to sustain themselves on their resources and manage the health challenges posed by Ebola find themselves vulnerable and in need of assistance from the outside world.
A number of bitter lessons are in order here not only for the three countries affected by Ebola but for Africa as a whole.
First, all of us should think hard and question the economic model that we are following at the moment.
Resources in Africa should be used to generate wealth for Africans first and foremost.
Any economic system which pays too much attention and care for interests of outsiders at the expense of locals is predatory and morally illegitimate and should be discarded forthwith.
Western capitalism as it is currently practised in Africa is tantamount to slavery and is not going to take Africa anywhere beyond the poverty and destitution that we see all over our continent.
We need thinkers who are original and creative, especially in the economic field, thinkers like those of China who looked at Western capitalism and came up with ways of taming it and controlling it in the interests of the Chinese people first and foremost.
Second, it is a dangerous illusion to believe that Western multi-national companies are in Africa to develop its people.
Firestone has been in Liberia for over 70 years and has not bothered to develop Liberia because it was never designed for that purpose.
Similarly Anglo-American companies have been operating all over Southern Africa, scooping out all kinds of minerals and stashing them away in their metropolis.
What all these companies have done and are still doing is to leave a trail of poverty and destitution which has since then acquired self-perpetuating characteristics of their own.
This is the background to the ever-growing township shacks we see around Maputo, around Johannesburg and Cape Town, around Harare, Luanda, Lusaka, Kinshasa etc.
Until our politicians, our economists, our institutions and organisations of the African Union (AU) go back to the drawing board and rework all our economic structures and models in the interests of all our people instead of outsiders, Africa will continue to surrender its resources to outsiders who in turn create millions of jobs in their countries at our expense.
Outsiders come to Africa not to develop Africans but to develop themselves!
We have to own our own development process, dictate its direction and pace according to our experiences both at home and abroad.
Third, it is unsettling and worrisome that most of those volunteering to go to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to assist Ebola victims are not from Africa.
Although the chair of the AU Commission, Madame N. Zuma has done her best to husband resources and personnel to assist the Ebola region, it is obvious that Africa has a moral duty to do much more than most but is not able to.
The other reason is partly attributable to our failure to link the fate of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Conakry with that of the continent as a whole.
Our minds are still shackled by our colonial boundaries and remain ill-prepared to look at Africa as one and act accordingly.
The result of this parochialism is equally tragic, especially for our young ones in so far as the heroes and heroines of this Ebola epidemic are likely to end up as being outsiders and not those of our own.
And the end result of all this is to reinforce a terrible stereotype which says outsiders are better than us and anything from outside is superior to ours, in the process generating an inferiority complex likely to haunt and paralyse generations to come.
Fourth, the Ebola virus was discovered when a white missionary who worked close to the Ebola River in the DRC in 1976 fell ill and died.
Since then minor outbreaks have occurred in Angola, eastern DRC, west of Uganda etc but all these remained local and easy to contain.
The difference with the current Ebola crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Conakry is that it has become an epidemic whose epicentres are located precisely at those places where American scientists have been carrying out experiments on Ebola in Africa.
For instance, it is not a secret that Professor Robert Gary of Tulane University of the USA has been leading a team of scientists carrying out research on hemorrhagic fevers caused by Ebola for several years in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Conakry and Liberia.
Also not in dispute is that an experimental fever ward has been specially set up at Kenema Hospital in Sierra Leone and that experimental testing has been going on there until recently when the Sierra Leone government ordered Tulane University to stop testing during the current Ebola outbreak.
Kenema Hospital has since then become one of the centres of the Ebola outbreak.
The key question here is: Is the current Ebola epidemic a result of testing that has gone out of control? Or is the epidemic itself part of the testing, and therefore necessary components of the research programme?
These questions are critical, more so when, according to Jon Rappoport, it is also not in dispute that the American research team has been working together with the US Army Medical Research Institute, a well known centre for bio-war research in Maryland.
To cap it all, the stated objective of the ongoing research, among others, is ‘detecting the future use of fever viruses as bio-weapons’.
In light of the above the AU should demand a full and accurate disclosure of what the American researchers have been up to and how much and how far Africans have been guinea pigs in all this.
In the interest of transparency and accountability Africa is owed an explanation by the US.
The bitter lesson here is that Africa needs a continental policy on medical research-cum-intelligence which ensures that;
a) Our continent and our people are not turned into a huge experimental laboratory for outside interests at our expense;
b) That our own institutions such as universities cannot afford to remain spectators on matters of life and death related to Ebola!
Their silence and passivity on such matters speak volumes about the degree to which their research programmes are probably donor driven and most likely misdirected in terms of priorities itself a monumental scandal of continental proportions which needs immediate attention.
Background to the Ebola tragedy in Africa: Part Three