Africa is the second-largest continent, 11,677,239 sq. miles (30,244.049 sq. km), and the second-most populous continent on earth with an estimated population of 1.2 billion people. Under this huge continental umbrella, are 54 sovereign nation-states. The Europeans “messed up” the character and soul of the continent by illegally dividing the continent among themselves at a conference in Berlin in 1884/5 with no African in attendance. Since then, the sovereign nations manufactured by the Europeans are torn between strict preservation of their sovereignty and collaborating with other sovereign nations separated by razor-thin boundaries in anything social, economic, and political. Without prejudice, some countries are too small to “stand-alone” in a fight against and reject the forces of xenophobia, polarization, nationalism, and protectionism, that has been used by the neocolonialists to solidify their policy of “divide and rule” and to perpetuate dependency in Africa.
Africa has fought and survived several wars, including wars of independence, inter-ethnic wars, wars against poverty and wars against diseases. Diseases seem to be Africa’s worst enemies that need different kinds of weapons to confront and eradicate them. Onchocerciasis (also known as river blindness), malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS, Ebola are among these deadly diseases that Africans have been dealing with since independence in the 1960s. As these were not enough, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has raised its ugly head, killing thousands of people globally. The good news is that this is the first time that the international community has not traced the origin of a killer disease to Africa. Another good news is that, so far, Africa has been least affected. Given the nature of this virus, it is not the time for African leaders to be complacent.
COVID-19, like its cousins—malaria and HIV/AIDS—does not respect national borders. With the increased intra-Africa movement of people across national borders, with limited human and material resources to test and quarantine those tested positive, this virus could spread wider and faster and kill more people than Ebola and malaria. Therefore, in the spirit of African brotherhood, there is a need for collective responsibility to stem the spread of this virus. This is the time to mobilize the armed forces—police and the soldiers—to enforce “lockdown” or “stay at home” policy.
What are the lessons learned from COVID-19? The first lesson is that nobody or country is the general manager of the world or indestructible. This virus has attacked and humbled people of all ranks and files, from Prime Ministers to Governors to Legislators to senior citizens to Baby Boomers to Millennials down to children. The second lesson is that every country should be prepared at all times for “warfare” of this nature in the future. This is a great challenge for African countries. With poor health systems and the exodus of doctors and allied health personnel from Africa to the European and North American countries, Africans are in a vulnerable situation when it comes to planning for war against diseases. But it is do-able. Political will in each country and continental-wide is what is needed. A virus of this kind that is attacking and killing citizens of developed countries and fake friends of African countries, it goes without saying that African countries should put on their armor and gloves and get to work to protect their citizens without waiting for foreign assistance. More importantly, Africans should not be used as guinea-pigs for research on diseases manufactured in foreign laboratories. AFRICAN LIFE MATTERS.
In a globalized system, who or which country is the true friend of Africa? If Africa exists today, it is by the grace of God. History books tell us that shortly after the arrival of European colonists in Africa in the 19th century, there was an explosion of epidemics of hitherto unknown infectious diseases—plague, smallpox, gonorrhea, and syphilis. There is no doubt that all old infectious diseases that ravage Africa today originated from other continents. This is an irrefutable fact, and any attempt to profile Africa as a disease originator should be fought with facts, education, and exposure of those who perpetuate a shameful history of Africa.
Africa has no friends. Sometimes I wonder whether Africans love themselves. In the time of the disaster, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa’s fake friends often emerge as the savior of Africa. China is already parading itself in Africa as Africa’s friend. Don’t trust the Chinese. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Its modern-day South-South colonialism is worse than the 19th-century North-South colonialism, and the highest stage of imperialism. Neither should Africans trust the global financial institutions—IMF and the World Bank—created by the colonialists after WW-II to serve as weapons of mass destruction of the global south. With the COVID-19 ravaging the world, the IMF has the platform to impose structural adjustment on African countries, including the devaluation of African currencies and the transfer of fertile lands (a.k.a. land grabbing) to the European and North American investors.
African leaders need a long spoon when eating with the Europeans, Americans, and the Chinese, and other fake friends of Africa. Africans must not forget how the Europeans bled Africa for four and a half centuries; how they looted Africa’s raw materials; how, in the name of religion, bastardized African cultures. In the 21st century, the colonialists are focusing on stealing and draining African brains through misinformation and encouraging an outflow of skilled individuals, including doctors, nurses, and scientists to the developed countries. According to a report published by the US National Institutes of Health, a total of 5,334 physicians from sub-Saharan Africa are now practicing in the United States. That is violence against Africa. Some African countries have one doctor per one thousand population. In this situation, how is Africa going to protect its citizens against old and new diseases? The answer is left to the individual conjecture.