In the News: Ebola and the African Union

posted by Bangirana Albert Billy

With now over six months since the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, critics are beginning to question Africa’s commitment in responding to this looming catastrophe. The outbreak of Ebola has again revealed the ugly dents within the African Union block. Liesl Louw-Vaudran in the article “Africa: The AU’s Ebola Mission – It’s Not All About the Money,” published in allAfrica, critiques the AU for the ‘too little, too late’ approach to the epidemic. Little resources allocation and continuous rhetoric has marred the AU’s counter-Ebola strategy. The article “African Union wants entire continent to fight Ebola”, published in CCTV America, reports on the AU call on member states to join the fight against Ebola in view of preventing possibilities for a widespread epidemic. In the article “Africa Union meets to discuss continent-wide Ebola strategy” published in Business Day Live, Dr Nkosazana Zuma – current AU Chairperson – reiterates the need for a collective responsibility in ensuring that Ebola doesn’t spread to the rest of the continent. Bruce Wiah, in his article for The New Dawn, “Liberia: AU stresses coordination in Ebola Fight” emphasizes the need to coordinate resources towards areas most affected by the epidemic – an approach that is yet to be fully realised by the AU member countries. It’s therefore evident that more still needs to be done as the African Union committee “Africa Union Support to Ebola outbreak in West Africa”ASEOWA recommits to a united, comprehensive and collective response to the epidemic. The question remains whether this will involve commitment of robust financial and professional resources to this critical cause.

In the News: Bible Study Publication Focuses on Economic Justice

Christian Aid, Jubilee Debt Campaign, and All We Can: Methodist Relief and Development have put together six bible studies that bring together economic issues and biblical teachings.

Entitled ‘Jubilee economics: Biblical teaching and financial crisis’, the set of six bible studies analyses economic issues facing people in the UK and across the world from a Biblical perspective.

Jesus’ teachings on hoarding wealth are examined in relation to inequality and financial crisis; old and new testament teaching on cancelling debts are looked at in relation to high levels of individual and government debt across the world; and the way  tax policies can increase inequality and injustice are examined.

Read the press release in its entirety here.


In the News: Ali Mazrui (1933-2014), Scholar, Teacher, Panafrican Activist

posted by Cilas Kemedjio

Ali MazruiChinua Achebe, in There Was a Country. A Personal History of the Biafra, claims that his generation has been referred to as the lucky one. Achebe’s generation bore witness to dramatic social and economic changes thanks to the modernization introduced by European colonizers. Besides the material changes that were transforming the African landscape, there was “a sense that we were standing figuratively and literally at the dawn of a new era.” They stood in-between the crumbling walls of tradition and the surging demands for independence. They witnessed and became, in their own right, « midwives » for the great cultural and political renaissance that vanquished the remnants of what Fanon termed a dying colonialism. The lucky generation is made of fraternity of great writers, artists, activists, and intellectuals who have brought African voices in the global village. This generation, as of late, is becoming more and more a disappearing act, thanks to the laws of biology.  The members of this fraternity—for it was mostly a fraternity—were recruited from the best students of the colonial schools. The trajectory of the brilliant pupil of the colonial school, to borrow this expression from literary scholar Lydie Moudileno, was familiar: “the gifted young student of the colonial school evolves in a world imprinted with both the classics of French literature and black diaspora movements of the beginning of the century, which lead him to a political awareness of his people, and translates into a political and literary engagement for a form of independence.”

Ali Mazrui, born on February 24, 1933 in Mombasa belongs to this exceptional fraternity of the brilliant student of the colonial school. As many of his fellow Eastern Africans, he Continue reading

In the News: (In)equality and Ebola

posted by Tanya Schwarz

What is the role of economic (in)equality in local responses to Ebola? What are the economic consequences of the Ebola outbreak? Raymond Gilpin tackles these and other questions for African Arguments. He says,

Ebola is a complex global security emergency that demands much more than a focus on the virus, as we learn from theories of social epidemiology.

He argues that more attention needs to be paid to economic factors including the lack of health care facilities in rural areas as well as the “dire economic ramifications” of the outbreak.

One of the lessons of this Ebola outbreak is that countries that ignore pronounced inequality do so at their peril.  Not only are such societies more fractured and unstable, they are also less resilient to socio-economic shocks.  Investing in basic primary health care and education facilities protects rich and poor, urban and rural, men and women.

Read “Ebola, Economics, and Equality in Africa” in its entirety here.

In the News: More on Ebola

For this series of posts titled “Ebola in Perspective,” anthropologists weigh in on their own experiences in West Africa with the aim of countering the dominant narrative portraying the region as “helpless and hopeless.”

In this NPR piece, “Firestone Did What Governments Have Not: Stopped Ebola In Its Tracks,” Jason Beaubien talks about how the Firestone rubber plantation in Harbel, Liberia has successfully avoided an Ebola outbreak on the grounds. Interestingly, Beaubien does not delve into the complicated relationship Firestone has with the town of Harbel, but instead focuses on the ways in which one corporation’s resources were used to contain the disease.

“Aid workers ask where was WHO in Ebola outbreak?”: Daniel Flynn and Stephanie Nebehay address the political and economic factors leading to a lag in WHO response time.

The BBC report “Ebola outbreak: Sierra Leone officials in aid row” notes that a container of materials intended to aid in the Ebola crisis are stranded in Freetown with politicians and health officials providing different reasons for the delay.

Daniel Drezner gives us “Seven things we now know about how the world has handled Ebola,” highlighting the shortcomings of the WHO and questioning to what extent the US could effectively stop an outbreak on its own soil.

Finally, Pambazuka News provides several interesting articles related to the Ebola crisis focusing on the (de)militarization of diseases in Africa and the mythologizing of health workers.