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Hi!, I started this blog quite selfishly and yet not. I had just become a new mum and I needed a space to air out my thoughts. I’ve neve...

Nov 7, 2014

My West Africa

You know when people ask that dreaded question.. Where are you from.."

well its becoming increasingly worrying to me.

My answer is normally, "before sweden i lived in London" ..confusing them even more but lately i get the question more and more so i say "my heritage is french and west african".. this is true i was born in nigeria, mums malian/french..dads gambian so there you go.

Now here lies the problem. .due to miscommunication,misinformation, media exaggeration and ignorance in general,  as soon as i say west africa. .somewhere in the response i hear that word.."ebola"

Concern is one thing..empathy excellent. .general stigma not acceptable.

Generalised statements that ive heard..when i say im from west africa are not ok..i realise the panic and fear people feel around this very serious disease but let me put it this way. .once we begin to look at all West Africans as potentially sick ..How exactly do you want me to feel.

I wanted to take my little girl to meet her great grand ma (over 90yrs old) in Mali over Christmas . There has been ONE Ebola case found in mali.  The professionals i spoke to about this trip basically told me that even though the risk of getting infected is very very slim once we come back we maybe subjected to several tests before we are allowed back into sweden.
As a teacher i may have to stay home an extra 14days to ensure that i do not contaminate others..
And my favorite. . 'People would be uncomfortable around you once you come back'

We considered going to Gambia. a place where there are NO REPORTED CASES of EBOLA . and guess what most of the flights have been cancelled. and the reponse i got was the same as going to Mali. 

Did i mention Australia and  Canada has closed its borders to West african citizens.!! ..and i quote "

In a move that puts Canada at odds with the World Health Organization, the federal government said Friday it is suspending the issuance of visas for residents and nationals of countries with "widespread and persistent-intense transmission" of Ebola virus disease. As well, work on permanent residence applications for people from the affected countries is also being suspend"

 Ive had enough to the Q&A. Coming from West Africa doesnt make me an expert or a potentially contagious person! Ive been following the news and social media feeds keenly and almost screamed when i read a conversation that went like this: "Ebola has come to America from Africa to kill us all" "Really,? is Ebola some president or what!?" Oh Dear, I feel that people need to rethink thier reponses and information before acting or speaking..as this is extremely dangerous . Educating yourself and tempering your response is crucial part of social responsibility. (Im happy to point out approriate and factual information should anyone require it.) It is begining to feel like propaganda and i know how dangerous that can be.. This feels like nothing new to me, the earliest i can remember was when i was in my teens on a school trip to the US with all my classmates i remember being pullout of the queue at immigration. When i asked why, they said i was carrying a french passport and my place of birth was Nigeria and Nigerians are notorious for fake passports so my passport may be forged!.. i have several examples accumuilated through the years.. There was a time not too long ago when a the general public in Germany where told that a certain group where inferior, thieves, prone to illness, contagious  etc etc.. and that amazing propaganda let to an extreme isolation and eventually to a War. Information and misinformation are of great importance and what we then do with the knowledge we get , even more important. I feel like the reaction to ebola professionally has been both inadequate and irrational. Take a look at the map in the link below the next time you ebola comes up http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/11/03/map-the-africa-without-ebola/

1 comment:

  1. you couldn't have said it any better. wr are experiencing the same crap over here. Ignorance is really a crime. A
    May God help us all.

    ReplyDelete