Round Table with Oscar
November 7, 2014
Ebola on tour

Fri Nov 7, 2014

The Ebola virus seems to have already travelled to most continents around the world. Ishmael Beh, in the Washington Post, wrote we have been made aware of how “in Germany, an African woman who recently travelled to Kenya — far from the affected countries — fell ill with a stomach virus at work; the whole building was shut down.” At New York’s Fashion Week, models showed off the “Ready to Wear” collection of Contamination Prevention suits, designed by Chanel. In Seoul, South Korea, a bar put up a sign saying “we apologise, but due to the Ebola virus, we are not accepting Africans at the moment.” Two weeks ago, in Havana, an Extraordinary Summit of ALBA leaders was held “to deal with the Ebola epidemic.{{more}}” I had heard of no other Ebola Summit anywhere but in our hemisphere.

While Ebola the Virus is based mainly in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea Conakry, with less than a 0.05 per cent cases exported, or one in 2000, Ebola the Fear is an international scare, based in the Imagination, and fed with superstitions, media sensationalisms and a consistent uglification of Africa. When we compare the somewhat advanced health care provisions of countries in Europe, North and South America with the poor health care systems in the three affected countries in West Africa, let us remember that Britain, France and the USA squeezed these countries dry for centuries in order to develop their own health and social systems and economies. The weak response of the West African leaderships is due to several objective conditions, and long colonial domination is one cause. Those Western leaders who contribute today to the Ebola Fear in their countries must know that their countries made Liberia, Guinea Conakry and Sierra Leone become Ebola and disease friendly. The western media are happy to show us the fiction of the ugly Africans being saved by the loving Europeans, Americans and an occasional African trained abroad, today’s missionaries. They were fed by yesterday’s bread of exploitation. This fact does not diminish the work of persons and agencies like Doctors without Borders, it calls for their reinforcement as a policy of the western states, in the manner in which the Republic of Cuba has been an example.

If the Jamaica born activist-scholar, Horace Campbell, is correct, and not overly optimistic, as cited by Azmira Ali in ‘Pambuzuka’ #700, then: “…collectively, ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) and the African union ( AU) possess the technical and medical capabilities to be more vigorous in response to Ebola… However, … a more robust response depends on political will.” Could it become a strategic intervention of CARICOM, an affiliate of the AU, to provide resources to help generate that political will in the African leadership?


The final statement from the ALBA Ebola Summit in Cuba two weeks ago is disturbing. It is a fear filled, regional fortress declaration, rather than a “Solidarity with Africa” statement. Of the 23 items in that final declaration, only three speak of help to the African states and people caught in the Ebola mire. Of these three agreements, #21 “… congratulate(s) the Republic of Cuba and its people for… sending Cuban medical personnel.”

Another declaration #20, “congratulate(s) the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the donation of $5 million to combat Ebola, and which was delivered to the UN Secretary General…”

The last declaration, #23, resolved to “continue collaborating with the countries of Africa…”

The rest is a contract for a mutual ALBA and regional defence pact against Ebola.

I had thought that ALBA would have followed the Cuban example and found a way to put helpful resources on the ground in West Africa, but ALBA lacks the guts or the heart of Cuba, a lonely “voice in our wilderness.”

Perhaps where the Extraordinary ALBA Summit falls short in meeting the Ebola outbreak is where it really matters. Some of our citizens with health and administrative capabilities will stand up and show us the way a Caribbean and a Christian people become neighbours to the world.