A quick but thorough research on coronavirus and its spread so far, reveals that it’s having a high presence in Asia, Europe and America.
Sometimes ago, when Ebola virus was prevalent in Africa, particularly Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone, some Americans and European countries treated Africans with disdain, ridicule and contempt making Ebola a major instrument of discrimination.
I could remember vividly, so many instances of segregation by the whites who felt irritated by the sight of Africans during that period not to mention travel restrictions. To them, all known and unknown viruses and diseases have/had their origin in Africa. Pathetic!
During the Ebola outbreak, I recall a story that emanated from Staten Island in New York. One woman said she was forced to take temporary, unpaid leave from her job because of her nationality, she was a Liberian.
Liberians in Minnesota, USA, were told to leave work after sneezing or coughing.
In New Jersey, two elementary school students from Rwanda were kept out of school after some parents pressured school officials.
At Navarro College, a public community college in Texas, officials mailed letters rejecting international applicants from African countries, even ones from countries without confirmed Ebola cases.
And then so many Nigerians and Africans were denied VISA, manhandled and arrested and deported at airports.
These are just few cases of the discrimination.
For Ebola, (I’ll agree) those fears were driven by the circumstances of the virus — its high mortality rate, its gruesome symptoms, its origins on a continent often misunderstood by Americans — even though the odds of contracting it in the US remained low.
An average American sees Africa as a small “Angwan” (permit me to use that word) that is surrounded by bushes, forest and animals and also humans who behave like these same animals.
Mighty wonder, I thought these other continents and their inhabitants are glamorously sterile not until the Coronavirus crawled into China.
While, the coronavirus spreads from Asia to America and to other countries, we do not need this in Africa and strict preventive measures should be put in place by the governments of African countries.
Please don’t misunderstand me, this is not a mockery of people from these countries or those affected by coronavirus, it is just a timely reminder that we are all humans and we all need to have open minds towards others.
It’s painful that China cannot celebrate Lunar New Year, the first in this decade. It’s painful that parents are separated from children and grandparents from grandchildren but what is important is that the world needs people and leaders who are more receptive.
Oh, well, I think that is it.
Brightest Okuta wrote from Abuja