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  • on 14.10.2014
  • at 11:00 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

Why I am afraid of the African disease of Ebola 0

Wherever I turn, there is Ebola. In the newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, and across the ubiquitous social media. Ebola. I sweat, shake, and cringe in mortal fear. Such an ugly word, fearsome in its primal sound, so African, so dark, so black. Since Africa is one country, beware of going to Africa, the media screams.

Never mind those who occasionally mention the disease is currently confined to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, three out of Africa’s 54 countries. But what do they know about world geography, Africa is Africa. That’s the problem with political correctness, denial of inconvenient truths. This is an African disease. It afflicts Africa, that benighted land of biblical agonies, of inexplicable scourges, of unimaginable suffering, of epidemics and pandemics, of AIDS.

I am afraid of Ebola because I am an African. I am not one of the nearly 1.1 billion Africans actually living on the continent. What difference does it make that all of western and eastern Europe, China, India, and the United States would fit into Africa; it is one sorry place home to all those hapless people living in trepidation of Ebola. I am part of Africa’s large global diaspora numbering in the tens of millions. But I remain an African, so I am scared of my susceptibility to the disease that is so African. I live in the United States, and I am terrified because, as of today, months after the panic started Ebola has already killed one person, an African who had travelled to Africa, and infected one health care worker.

I wonder how many people have since died of other diseases—heart disease, malignant cancers, lung disease, brain disease, accidents or unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide, the ten leading causes of death in the United States, responsible for nearly 1.86 million deaths in 2011, three-quarters of all deaths in the country. Where is the panic on all these deaths, some of which were surely preventable and premature. But that is beside the point. These are normal deaths. Ebola is terrifying in its monstrosity. It is a disease out of Africa.

I am afraid of Ebola because I, too, come from Africa. I watch the gory images of deaths from Ebola in Africa. I listen to the pundits pontificating about the millions it will kill in Africa, the need to close US borders from Africa. I shudder at seeing President Obama whose father came from Africa (or is it Kenya) being called President Ebola. I am stunned when a student refuses to go on a study abroad trip to Spain because it is close to Africa. Hasn’t one Ebola case already been diagnosed there? I am speechless when well meaning colleagues wonder why I’m going to Africa; they never hear the names of the actual countries I am going to.

continue reading on AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

By Paul Tiyambe ZelezaAFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Photo credit: The Daily Beast

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