Skip to main content
Life Reflections

They want us to act on scientific facts yet they work purely for selfish interest

By December 11, 2021June 6th, 2023No Comments

December 10, 2021

We were fine, surely, holding our own against this nasty Covid-19 pandemic and, in fact, slowly bringing it to its knees when reports of its new, nastier scare hit us. Not from Southern Africa, no. From – you guessed right! – Europe. Yet it was a variant identified by South African scientists and announced by the government of South Africa (SA), in good faith.

The UK was the first to hit the red button and, as if on cue, European country after European country post-haste slapped bans on travel to and from almost all Southern African countries.  It’s actually said some European scientists toyed with the idea of naming the scare “The Botswana Variant” as South African scientists first spotted it in Botswana. However, some level heads must have warned against peddling such a cheap and easily see-through insult to science. 

What happened to good old coherent minds that take time to reflect on and understand a problem, then soberly take appropriate scientifically appraised measures, you may ask. Well, search me. Maybe someone is wishing away Africans in preference for their soil, fauna and flora! Else, why this hare-brained haste?

You see, as time progressed, it emerged that this Omicron SARS-CoV-2 Variant was in truth already ravaging many European countries, only their governments hadn’t let on.

Yet for the commendable action of SA’s government of alerting global citizens to the existence of this variant, Europe went at it hammer and tongs.

Unfortunately, this European knee-jack action inevitably pulled some African governments into similar misconduct. The Rwandan government, for its air travel business survival, had no alternative but to regrettably join the fray.

For our history as Africans and, no doubt, for our failure to work together seamlessly as borderless countries, we are perforce, if reluctantly, pegged to the whims of the global North. This means our airlines can only do business when they connect Africans to the North as intra-African travel is more or less negligible.

But then again, this may be the wake-up call Africa has been waiting for.

It’s a call to robust interaction that some African leaders have been trying to kick-start without success because some of their peers are holding fast onto the brakes. Meanwhile, others are trying to engage the reverse gear. The result is an Africa that’s moving in fits and starts.

Agreement documents on regional and continental integrations are gathering dust on shelves. Take the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement that should have kicked off last January. It lies in limbo. The Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment and such other lengthy but certainly positive shared pledges are well-nigh forgotten.

With the call, dark as this tunnel Africa is navigating may be, bright light may be pushed into view at the end. The calls that have been splitting African eardrums may rise from waste. That capacity alone of SA’s scientists to determine the Omicron variant, which necessarily goes with capacity to manufacture different vaccines and pharmaceuticals, is reason to sound the African joyful drums.

We should not care that instead of receiving deserved world plaudits, SA and her neighbours were pummelled with bans by the North, with fellow ‘continentals’ unwillingly accompanying it for fear of incurring business loss.

Gladly, the addition to SA’s efforts of African countries like Senegal and Rwanda that have partnered with private companies to manufacture medicines is a big consolation-boost.

From this nucleus of three countries, more African nations and companies will jump onto the medicine-production train and thus resuscitate the various agreements that are today betwixt and between. Bustling intra-travel, intra-trade, intra-tourism and interaction of all sorts among Africans may be set into full throttle. Pessimists, this is not an unachievable ideal. 

Then the North can shutter their gates all they want. For, in all sincerity, are they friends, who cannot work fairly with you at your hours of need, when both of you are in tumultuous waters?

First, when vaccines for this Covid-19 pandemic were launched, they grabbed up fourfold their peoples’ required doses and left us hamstrung. Then, watch them when a variant rears its head. They’ll instantly smack bans into Africa’s face and to hell with scientifically examining possible precautionary steps that harm neither party.

SA’s President Cyril Ramaphosa puts it succinctly in a tweet: “And so one asks, where is science? These countries…..said to us that we should base our decisions on science. But when the time comes for them to apply it to themselves…..[they]…resort to their own self-interest.”

However, as already said, it may be good that we are always stabbed in the back. Left to fend for ourselves, we may be galvanised into working together instead of trying to work with some of our neighbouring leaders who seem to be afflicted with the ‘grasshopper syndrome’.

That’s the syndrome of a persecuted group fighting among themselves instead of fighting together for mutual liberation. Free Africa of that syndrome and the sky will be the limit.

Leave a Reply