Heroes (and Villains) of the Deadly Ebola Virus


As news breaks that American EBV patients, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, have been released from the hospital (Emory University, Atlanta), news also reaches us that Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh (pictured above), the first physician to treat the Liberian-American patent in Nigeria, has succumbed to the disease in Lagos, Nigeria. Two continents, two heroes, different outcomes. Ameyo’s family is in mourning with the rest of friends, colleagues and fellow citizens who applaud her brave and courageous actions in the wake of EBV’s arrival on Nigerian shores. Already, calls have gone forth to immortalize her name and the patriotic sacrifice not only to serve as a healer but also as the conscience of a nation . . .sadly, from the grave. My sympathies are certainly with her family and I join them to mourn her departure. Such a loss.

Of course, the under script of the outbreak, actions taken (or not) by individuals, hospitals, airlines, and governments are being examined. A sister Bukky Hasson decries the underlying failure of the Nigerian and African governments in their lack of foresight, lack of support for research, etc. in dealing with the problems in African countries. Wouldn’t you expect some dissenter pointing out to her that the governments should not be blamed for everything? I beg to ask the dissenter to provide his sanitized list of what then we can put at the feet of Nigerian leaders. The latter and their sycophant cabinets  always claim success in this and that with very little to nothing to show for it. At a recent picnic of the Nigerian community in Columbus, Ohio, we were polite enough to welcome the government official, Minister of State from Nigeria. I’m yet to ascertain if she was on an official visit seeing she had an entourage of at least five people with her. The stories of estacodes and benefits profited from such visits to the U.S. are well known and deplorable. As she continued on her presentation of a litany of bogus achievements of the Nigerian government, many of us again politely signaled a closure to the game. Given the opportunity for a Q&A, which I applauded, I repeated the obvious –obvious to well-meaning, action and result-oriented citizens in the diaspora: Simply, the obvious failures in education, health outcomes, and security cannot be swept under the rug. The platitudes from such as the Minister can only be termed insulting to those of us who do pay attention, have initiated actions but continue to meet with corruption, red tape and misstatements, to say the least.

It’s under this backdrop that we tackle an examination of what was, could have been and, going forward, could be in Nigeria, Africa and the rest.

Lack of Vision: The main villains of the EBV remain leaders at different levels. As Bukky Hassan rightly pointed out, lack of foresight, remains one of Africa’s biggest problems. It only takes a quick look at emerging markets as reported by several economists to appreciate this fact… Even with this forecast, even with the recently concluded U. S-Africa forum where Pres. Obama hosted African leaders, what have the individual leaders done pre- and post that meeting to enable the potential thus identified?

In a country where the best are constantly on strike—doctors, educators, researchers -, and the federal government does very little to change this course, how do we expect anything to change? The brains and entrepreneurship are there but they are hardly supported.

Selfishness and Greed and Sycophancy: Maybe the outbreak of EBV, the deadliest so far, will awaken consciences of African leaders. The solution previously taken by many of them of sending their loved ones out of the country may just have been brought to an abrupt end. But maybe, my optimism gets the better of me. We have the capacity to do well by our own people, by our citizens and we must require our leaders to do as much.


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