Nothing hurts like clashing news but it seems that is what my continent is characterized by. I came from Toronto on 18th of March, 2020. I came through Montreal and Brussels through to Ghana. There were no proper measures in all these places to check the virus except the latter. But the outbreak of the Corona Virus Pandemic was very much at its peak, having almost shut down Toronto, somewhat emptied Brussels and causing panic in the United States and Europe. There were tests which screened respiratory systems of passengers at the airport, and took temperatures of passengers without as much as touching them.
On our way to Ghana there were several passengers who were afraid to land in former Gold Coast although it was their final destination. The country had issued a letter closing entry to foreigners, news outlets in Ghana were having a field day. Some of these people who held passports of different nationalities, boldly said they’d land in Lome and sneak into the country through the Togo Border. Of course I was scandalized! What if they had the virus? Those of us who discussed how some had already been sent back to their countries giggled at the thought. That we get to be picky, finally and teach some supremacists how much it hurts to be rejected, even thanks to a pandemic, was something sweet in our thoughts and chests. Well, that’s not to say I love the brain drain through illegalities and migration. As someone whose temperature is almost always above average, I fidgeted when we were told they were quarantining those with high temperature. So I drank as much water and wine as I could on the plane.
There were airport officials in Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They checked each passport to make sure we were Ghanaians. Of course those who were holding resident permits were allowed but were more scrutinized. When I got out of the airport, an airport taxi driver held my shoulders and shouted “Madam, taxi o, where are you going?” I hurried out of his near embrace, thinking about him rather than me. I had passed through a Covid19 Hotspot, Brussels, had sat in a plane with several people, if I had the virus, he speaking to me at close proximity might put him in danger. I wondered if they listened to news. I wondered the kind of Education they had been given through the media, I wondered how many people they could infect if they got the virus. But my brother was standing there, waiting to pick me up. He did not as much as touch my trolley although I had a set of suitcases on it. I realized he was up to speed with news, and I was glad.
Settling home took a long turn. I was to self quarantine for 14 days and I was determined to. But I could not do that in Accra, so tried to get to my final destination, Tamale, through the safest means, without as much as a sound from my mouth, and I succeeded. I utilized my social media (the least said about the panic news there, the better) and warned that people are sneaking into the country through the borders. Few days later, we were told in the news that the president had issued a directive to close all borders. It was a relief. Barely a day after that, several immigrants and citizens were caught sneaking in through the borders, with some through the unconventional borders. My scare when news had it some had the virus few days later. Those who came into the country a day or two after us were all mandatorily quarantined. Luckily for them, they were put in comfortable hotels at the expense of the state. Still, news had it, some were rebelling. There was one who didn’t want to be confined because he claimed “he was a science student” and others who felt they had the right to self quarantine. But none escaped the quarantine and the state testing proved it was the right decision. Suddenly, I was in a country which was taking proper measures to curb a pandemic, a country I belong to, and I couldn’t help but be happy.
I woke up to the news that Africans were being mistreated in Guangzhou, China. While some were being evicted and left on streets, others were being subjected to forced testing, while some were separated from their “non-black” spouses and quarantined, some were being abnormally charged just because there were some news outlet which reported that some black people had tested positive to Corona Virus and were the new spreading points. Suddenly, the racism I knew China harboured, that racism which made me so uncomfortable when African leaders got close to China and accessed their loans, was laid bare. A further reading into news showed so many Chinese racists online, who had such hatred for blacks the world over. They called us disgusting, but they chew frogs, lizards, vultures etc. Those Chinese thought or think their government should not accommodate Africans in China. I wasn’t shocked, just disgusted. To think that even China, whose citizens parade the African lands, looting gold through illegalities destroying potable rivers, sometimes beating up our law enforcement agents through their personalized bodyguards, to think that some Chinese citizens go as far as abusing African ministers verbally and physically, to think that some impregnate our girls and leave them futureless and burdened and to think that these ignorant Chinese who had never researched into how horrible their own people evade our space, call us names and mistreat us, drilled holes in my heart. The news persisted, Africans being beaten, Africans being denied entry into shopping malls and being asked not to sleep on the streets. It was almost as if the Chinese wanted them to hang in the air in a pandemic, my heart sank.
In every group of people, you find those who apologize for the misdeeds of others, even if the crimes are directed to their people. Some started saying an eye for an eye makes the world go blind. I countered that with “an eye for an eye makes the fight fair”. How in the world did they expect us to do nothing, when Chinese are being racists towards Africans for a virus that started in Wuhan, on their land? To think some Africans fought for them when the world tried to run away from their citizens! Then I saw some leaders of Africa trying to massage the Chinese government on the issue but there was a pleasant surprise. Some were angry and rightfully so and were demanding we send Chinese nationals packing from our land too. I supported and still support that. I choose my nationality before others. Isn’t self care more important in life?
News had it that some Africans were being ingenious, inventing ventilators, hand washing machines which used solar energy, PPE among others. Still, our minister of finance wrote a long article shamelessly telling the world he was calling Ghana’s Ambassador to China to help arrange for ventilators and other PPE. I waited for the people to get angry but none did. There is a prototype of a ventilator made by a Ghanaian, even acknowledged by the president in one of his state addresses, but nothing pricked minds in power to get the inventor, put some experts together to help test and manufacture, they were chasing Chinese products. I felt the road to mental independence had been extended. It saddened me so. Then the partial lock down came with poor citizens clashing with law enforcement agents. It was obvious the education did not go down well, somehow we managed through until news made us know about the plight of citizens living in Old Fadama. In a pandemic, authorities embarked on a demolition exercise, rendering over 2000 people homeless. I watched the news like a fool. Where they were was not a good spot, but it was a safe spot during a pandemic. The same news outlets kept bringing in news: the sanitation ministry denied ever authorizing the demolition. Party politics was at play, and it wasn’t even funny. News of immigrants sneaking into the country continued to trickle in. News of politicians sharing bread and beans with their pictures on them kept coming in, news of Nadmo spending two million cedis a day in sharing food to the poor is still hovering, news of a minister taking on false prophets keeps entertaining us, news of other nations facing harsher situations and deaths keep trickling in, news of Chinese doing damage control by feeding Africans with flowers in hospitals and sending PPE to others in their homes and hotels keep buzzing in. Through it all, we live, we lose some and win some. The virus has been and is being well controlled. Forget about news of discrepancies in testing perpetuated by some bored intellectuals of my land. They all help to make the news worthy. Also, funny is news of locals drinking shots of alcohol thinking it a preventive measure for Corona. News abound but I can’t touch on all of them. And there are some unthinkable news. Almighty Trump claiming the pandemic a hoax and turning to blame World Health Organization for lack of transparency in its dealings in Wuhan and now suggesting doctors use disinfectant as injection to cure the virus are no go area news. But may I suggest we get him infected, and used as the first guinea pig for his disinfectant experiment? The guy is a “genius”, who knows, he might be on to something. Anyway enough of that, do we need to talk about conspiracy theories?
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © April 24, 2020. Photo Credit: Google Pics