Africa has defied Covid-19 nightmare scenarios

25 September 2020 | Opinion

KAREN ATTIAH

After the novel coronavirus first appeared in Africa in late February, Ghana’s government decided it would take no chances. Ghanaian citizens were soon put under lockdown, and travel between major cities was banned. Then president Nana Akufo-Addo announced the closure of the country’s land and sea borders.

News reports and opinion articles have posited that corruption and a lack of healthcare infrastructure meant that Africa was a “timebomb” waiting to explode. Rampant poverty and a lack of effective governance would cause the dark continent to fall apart under the weight of a public health emergency. The world, the experts said, should prepare to offer aid, loans and debt forgiveness to African governments - in other words, they should prepare to save Africa. No need.

Sub-Saharan Africa

While so much about the virus and how it operates remains unclear, sub-Saharan Africa so far has dodged a deadly wave of coronavirus cases. Many factors have contributed to this. A number of West African nations already had a pandemic response infrastructure in place from the Ebola outbreak of late 2013 to 2016. Just six years ago, Liberia lost nearly 5 000 people to Ebola. At the beginning of this year, Liberia began screening for Covid-19 at airports. Travelers coming in from countries with more than 200 cases were quarantined. To date, Liberia, a country of some 5 million, has 1 335 cases and around 82 deaths.

Senegal has a population of 16 million, but has only 302 registered deaths. Several countries have come up with innovations. Rwanda, a country of 12 million, also responded early and aggressively to the virus, using equipment and infrastructure that was in place to deal with HIV/Aids. Testing and treatment for the virus are free. Rwanda has recorded only 26 deaths.

‘West largely blind’

As the United States approaches 200 000 deaths, the West seems largely blind to Africa’s successes. In recent weeks, headline writers seem to be doing their hardest to try to reconcile Western stereotypes about Africa with the reality of the low death rates on the continent. The BBC came under fire for a since-changed headline and a tweet that read ‘Coronavirus in Africa: Could poverty explain mystery of low death rate?’ The New York Post published an article with the headline, ‘Scientists can’t explain puzzling lack of coronavirus outbreaks in Africa’.

It’s almost as if they are disappointed that Africans aren’t dying en masse and countries are not collapsing. While Black Americans have been disproportionately contracting Covid-19 and dying, Africa’s performance shows, as I quoted a Kenyan anthropologist saying in May, “being a black person in this world doesn’t kill you, but being a black person in America clearly can.”

This pandemic has coincided with a global movement challenging anti-Black racism and white supremacy. This should have been a moment for media outlets to challenge corrosive narratives about Africa and the idea that Africans are not capable of effective policy-making. We could be learning from the experiences that Africans and their governments have had with pandemics and viral diseases, including Ebola and Aids.

Instead, the media has largely ignored the policy successes out of Africa. In doing so, Western media is reinforcing colonial narratives of Black inferiority and the inability of Black nations to govern themselves at all, much less govern better than resource-rich White nations.

Missteps

None of this is to say there have not been missteps and challenges on the continent. In countries such as Kenya, police officers have used coronavirus restrictions as a cover to escalate police brutality against citizens - police killed 15 people while enforcing curfew restrictions. Misinformation has spread online, making things harder for healthcare professionals.

But overall, African countries have made great efforts to contain the coronavirus, and citizens so far have escaped the nightmare predictions. African lives have been saved thanks to the hard work of many dedicated health-care workers and the collective responsibility of communities.

*This is an edited version of an opinion that was published by the washingtonpost.com

Similar News

 

Celebrate cancer awareness month

12 hours ago | Opinion

As we celebrate Cancer Awareness Month, My Zone visited Delta High School and asked the learners what they know about breast cancer and what they...

Democratic regime change is permissible

12 hours ago | Opinion

President Hage Geingob drew wrath in some quarters when he tore into white Namibians who, in his own words, are deserting Swapo and essentially plotting...

As we celebrate Cancer Awareness Month, My Zone visited...

12 hours ago | Opinion

Corlia LiebenbergBreast cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the breast tissue and lymph nodes of females and males. You could assist a...

Editor’s Note

12 hours ago | Opinion

Jimmy Visser Becoming the editor of the Wennie Pulse Editorial Team will always be an achievement to write home about. It has been a...

Criminalise long suspensions

1 day - 19 October 2020 | Opinion

Hundreds of government and public enterprise employees are currently on suspension with full pay.Some of them have been on suspension for as long as two...

Trust in marketing communications campaigns

4 days ago - 16 October 2020 | Opinion

During 2020, we have adapted to digital-matter-of-fact at an exponential pace. The fireworks of newly launched online businesses and sales platforms were cheered on by...

We need timelines

4 days ago - 16 October 2020 | Opinion

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This famous saying by French critic Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr is very relevant to Namibia -...

Tribute to late Silvanus Vatuva

4 days ago - 16 October 2020 | Opinion

“Man's dearest possession is life, it is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for...

Education important in politics

5 days ago - 15 October 2020 | Opinion

Although the Swapo government continues to preach the importance of education, the party itself continues to catapult uneducated persons into leadership positions and hand them...

Criminalise school bullying

6 days ago - 14 October 2020 | Opinion

“Bullying is a vital part of every ecosystem. It teaches kids resilience. The world is a rough place. Bullying is like getting inoculated. It's a...

Latest News

‘No need’ for Geingob to...

12 hours ago | Government

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKSwapo spokesperson Hilma Nicanor has leapt to the defence of President Hage...

Girl (3) raped by uncle

12 hours ago | Crime

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKThe rape of a three-year-old girl by her 49-year-old uncle at Mariental is among the latest sexual attacks on children...

Young, Wild and Free Nikhita

12 hours ago | People

Ester Kamati “I am unique because my journey is unique, my experiences in life, my thoughts, my words, and my actions make me unique.”Known for...

'Much more decisive' action needed...

12 hours ago | Economics

The head of the International Monetary Fund on Sunday called for significant steps to address the increasingly unsustainable debt burdens of some countries, urging creditors...

Etosha fire still raging

12 hours ago | Disasters

ERWIN LEUSCHNER SWAKOPMUND After more than a week, a fire in the Etosha National Park is still raging. The fire has destroyed a...

Celebrate cancer awareness month

12 hours ago | Opinion

As we celebrate Cancer Awareness Month, My Zone visited Delta High School and asked the learners what they know about breast cancer and what they...

Democratic regime change is permissible

12 hours ago | Opinion

President Hage Geingob drew wrath in some quarters when he tore into white Namibians who, in his own words, are deserting Swapo and essentially plotting...

The price of envy

12 hours ago | Columns

Octavia TsibesWhat is it about people that makes it hard for us sometimes to feel happy for others? We want to be good friends, good...

As we celebrate Cancer Awareness...

12 hours ago | Opinion

Corlia LiebenbergBreast cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the breast tissue and lymph nodes of females and males. You could assist a...

Load More