America is in the exact same position Nigeria was in three months ago. Amazing isn’t it? I was away on holiday in Ghana when the news broke that a man carrying the Ebola virus had arrived the country from Liberia. Even from afar I could tell that there was fear and consternation everywhere. We were already dealing with terrible insecurity in the Northern parts of the country and were stretched to breaking point. A virus-carrying visitor was exactly what we did not need.
The news on Ghanaian radio was full of the woes that were coming out of Nigeria; the newscasters sounded almost gleeful and I wondered what it is about my country that gets others so riled up. When I got back to the country end of July, everyone had an opinion on what should be done and I thought, “typical Nigeria”. A nation where everyone is an expert and the only idiots are in Government! Soon the dreaded began to happen; medical personnel caught the virus and of course the rumour mills opened up for business. The virus was soon ‘sighted’ in various places where it could not possibly have entered. It took on a life of its own and began to move from town to town. Everybody became a suspected carrier of EVD. Curses were heaped on the Liberian and his entire nation, even after the man had died.
Sanitizers became big business; scarcity set in and the prices went up beyond ridiculous as everyone scrambled to own a bottle or two. It was a near panic situation. Even your truly decided that her kids would not return to school until the situation was brought under control. Leaders placed travel bans on people over whom they had control; one leader even banned their people from going to Lagos, and people listened because no one understood what was happening. Thankfully the government rose to the occasion with daily briefings and updates on the situation. Regretfully people chose to believe the government and the rumours continued to spread. People began to die. It was painful. Even Nigerians who had not been home for a while were viewed with suspicion in other countries.
And then we woke up one day and it was gone! Poof, just like that, it had vanished. We were free at last! And suddenly we became world champions and other countries started asking what we did right. How did a nation of seeming bumblers get rid of a dreaded virus so fast and with so ‘little’ casualties? Countries like Big brother USA were puzzled. Then the tables turned. America got its first real case. Again from a Liberian on visit and medical personnel started coming down with symptoms. Now it seems America is in the same situation we were in only a few short months ago. From faraway, I am monitoring the news and shaking my head in wonder. What lessons can we learn from what is happening with EVD?
1. Diseases do not respect nationalities and races. It infects whomever it wills.
2. When we say globalization, it is exactly that, it is one huge village out there, let’s look out for one another
3. The African is not the problem, don’t blame every evil on him.
4. When a thief visits your neighbour and you hide your gun, remember that your neighbour sells gun powder.
5. When a people come together in heart and soul they can achieve anything.
In conclusion, I want to say to my American friends, “do not panic”. This one too shall pass. You have all heard from more reliable sources what we did to overcome, just do likewise. Something though that has not been talked about much is prayer. Nigerians prayed. Fervently. Earnestly. And it worked. God still answers prayers. Yes, He still exists, nothing and no one dethrones Him. So pray, like we did.
Oh, and one more thing, get Nigerian sanitizers!