I find myself being worked up each day almost into a frenzy panic, scouring the various online news outlets for news and updates on the Ebola virus plaguing our country.
Each day you wake up, you hear of more people infected, more deaths. These days, it is no longer unnamed faceless victims in the most rural parts of the country but people we know, or we know people who know people who are victims. The disease has entered our social circles and is now staring us rudely, daringly in the face.
The church and religious “fanatics” have their own theory that this is a combination of this being a plague upon us Liberians for the vile sins we commit and the deep dark levels we have degenerated into and that God is dealing with us and that this is just another sign of the world coming to an end. The End Days.
There is a growing deep distrust of the government which probably stems from decades of failure of past governments and leaders and this is probably why when the alarm was raised earlier this year of the Ebola virus, people generally didn’t believe it was true or felt it was too distantly removed from our comfort zones to be alarmed. Many saw it as another government attempt to milk a situation for more money to steal (or to say it nicely: misappropriate), solicit more donor funds, etc.
When the Ministry of Health said it needed over 2 million dollars to combat the spreading of the virus, there was laughter, jeers and incredulity with many saying “aah, we told your these government people just looking for way to eat money”. I bet 2 million probably seems a drop in the bucket now, eh?
The minister of health, Dr. Walter Gwenigale held a press conference where he give advice to the public on how to deal with the virus and ways of avoiding the illness, including avoiding contact with the bodies of people who died of Ebola, no touching, shaking hands and “no sex for 30 days”.
Aha! We had something to cling to. Something to help us escape the nasty reality of this virus.
Newspapers went wild with headlines of “Gwenigale says no sex for 30 days”. Jokes roamed the various social medias with many joking, “Ebola says we shouldn’t eat something oh”.
As part of an awareness campaign, a song was made. I think Julie Endee made the song and I didn’t get to listen to the song till few weeks ago with the message of no eating dried bush meat, shaking hands, symptoms of the illness, no hugging and no sex. I understand that whenever the song was played at parties and nightclubs, there would be a loud hail from the crowd with many of the dancers pulling their dance partners closer and saying suggestively, “no eating something oh!.
With the recent deaths of some health professionals, of course, again the rumor mills are thriving with speculations that they may have been “eating something to be passing the disease left and right among themselves”. I even heard someone say “don’t mind these doctors, whole day they chasing these nurses and patients, da eating something will kill them”.
Ebola has become a stark reality. The death rates are running high and coming closer and closer to our comfort zones. We are no longer laughing and it’s almost hard to hear the Ebola jokes anymore. The reality is here. Staring us grimly in the face each day. We can either accept that this illness is indeed here and collectively fight and kick it out of Liberia, or we can deny the reality, stick our heads in the sand like ostriches, leaving the rest of our bodies exposed and open to attack.
I was in a vehicle recently with two young men and we passed a very pretty girl standing by the side of the road looking for taxi (or a ride) and one commented “damn, all the fine fine girls coming pass by us these days oh, Ebola spoiling people show”.
The other said “my man, no giving lift these days oh, no hustling, Ebola in town. You ain’t hear, no eating something”.
This is not just “government business” but everyone’s business. Wash your hands. Do not shake hands, hug, don’t eat bats, cook your food well, don’t eat plums that are bitten by bats, etc.
And yeah, maybe even, no “eating something” if that what it takes to kick Ebola out.