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Black man, you are on your own – Part 2

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Continued from yesterday
The confounding challenge COVID -19 poses to human ingenuity necessitates that, even as the rest of the world searches for a cure in their different ways, Africa must muster the confidence to develop and test its own remedy too. There cannot be anything wrong with a multi-pronged approach to an existential danger to the human society. No person, or race, possesses a monopoly of knowledge to solve the myriad problems of mankind. Not one. And, this is not even about competition to be the first to get it right. So, let every system, culture, people, get down to work in search of an antidote to COVID-19. As the Yoruba would say, it does not matter who kills the snake, what matters is that the snake is killed and danger averted. Madagascar has lately been reported launch a herbal medicine that serves both preventive and curative purposes. COVID-Organics was developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research and, according to the country’s president Andre Rajoelina, “all trials and tests have been conducted and its effectiveness in reducing the elimination of symptoms have been proven for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Madagascar”.  The WHO is said to say of the Madagascar medicine that it does not recommend self-medication” with medications not scientifically proven. Proven by who, how, and where?  But of course, note that this is not a black African country; it is going ahead to test its own medication. As I stated above all hands must be on deck in the search for a solution. So, WHO truly interested to save life would contact Madagascar to explore that option. Not sit at its headquarters and issue press statements.

COVID-19 is forcing us to re-invent our ways of life. Imagine, friends, neighbors, even couples, cannot meet and hug each other as they used to. It is a paradox of paradoxes that to keep a (social) distance from loved ones has become an act of love! Even the nature and meaning of work is fast changing –for those who still have work to do; economies are spiraling downward and self-protection is, dangerously, topping the scale of human values. The haves are crying, and afraid at the possible fall back among the have-nots.  If therefore, ‘medicinal salvation’ for the world comes from Africa, it is just as well. The findings of our local researcher may be a step to the fulfillment of the black man’s global impact. Who knows? So instead of living in self-abnegating comfort zone African leaders must do whatever possible to bring this to pass. On a live discussion of COVID-19 on ITV, a Nigerian private television, two professors, Cyril Otoikhian and Josiah Adjene, have raised intelligent questions on the analysis, the nature, as well as the treatment procedure of the ‘disease’ as narrated to the public. Prof. Otoikhian even asserted that, as explained, the widely touted explanations fail all scientific principles in terms of disease classification. This discussion has been on the social media for at least a week. Why will the government of Nigeria not facilitate a technical interrogation of their postulations?  And if this is being done, Nigerians want to know.

Innoson Motors, maker of vehicles, recently offered to produce ventilators and protective gears if the Nigerian government reaches a mutually acceptable agreement with his company. He is reported to request a loan of N4 billion. “We plan to add the loan to our existing financial and technical resources to produce a good number of ventilators within a short period of time” said the executive director of the company, Mr. Obinna Chukwuma. So far ‘government people’ talk of ongoing discussions. There is no time to dillydally on decisions nor for red tape.  In the face of a clear and present danger Government people must think out of bureaucracy and more quickly. If four out of the tens of billions already received from donors will make a difference to save lives, give Innoson the loan to get to work. He is one of us, he is here with us, and he can’t disappear with our money. The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) has, according to The Guardian of April, 21, 2020, produced what is described as a low cost ventilator; the National Bio-Technology Development Agency (NABDA) has reportedly developed what is termed COVID-19 intervention products.  Hard thinking is also going on elsewhere in the country on solutions to the virus. The Federal Government must support and to help bring these efforts to fruition. That is what responsible governments do. Sam&Sara, local manufacturer of garments recently advertised its capacity to produce “up to 500,000 [face] masks per week and 2 million per month”, besides other medical necessities such as washable and reusable face masks, and COVID-19 protective wears. The company also commits itself to “perfect finishing and on time delivery no matter the quantity of the order”. Pray, what are the president of Nigeria and his government waiting for? Certainly not for money: the Europeans recently gave about N21 billion to fight COVID-19 and donations by the concerned Nigerians have reached another N25.89 billion, and still counting.  Nigerians, generally, think and work hard: these are proofs. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Nigeria’s political leaders. An army of lions led by a sheep can never win.

By their abject deference to the ‘wisdoms’ of other land, African leaders especially, but also most Africans too present the black race as lacking confidence in its own capabilities and in even self-esteem. We are made to appear inferior, thereby foolishly corroborating racist narratives.  Pray, why would the Federal Government not set up a team drawn from the relevant ministries and agencies, the Nigerian Academy of Sciences, the pharmaceutical research institutes, the relevant departments of the universities, and just about anyone who can add value to the effort? Why wait for validation from foreign interests that, hey! hardly see anything good in the African?  The Asians don’t do that to themselves; see how far they have moved in global respectability. Acupuncture has been, for ages, an important part of traditional Chinese medical treatment. Foreigners used to consider it ‘pseudo-scientific’ and quackery of sorts. Even now, Wikipedia writes that acupuncture is considered in the West as “a pseudoscience because the theories and practices of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) are not based on scientific knowledge, and it has been characterized as quackery”.  But who cares? It worked, and still works for them. And, in the face of foreign derogatory opinions, they persist on the efficacy such that Western medicine is beginning to take Oriental prescriptions more seriously. Now, if the Chinese were to await the approval of the efficacy of acupuncture by Euro-American scientists, I doubt it would ever come. Beyond the material, Oriental spiritual methods to self-awareness, transpersonal attainment and post conventional mindset are well received, studied, and practised

in the West. In the face of foreign influences, the people of the East are convinced of the validity and efficacy of their respective cultures, and confident of their superiority of their person. These confident and determined peoples are, by force of discipline, focus, innovativeness, and above all patriotic leadership, compelling the rest of the world to take them seriously.

China, Japan, India, South Korea hone their unique and culture –anchored strengths to define and elevate their places on the global stage.  North Korean president Kim Jong-un dragged the U.S. president to step into the demilitarized zone of his country in June 2019 for talks. Earlier, in June 2018, Mr. Trump had travelled thousands of miles across the world to meet the Korean leader in Singapore. We all know why North Korea is taken seriously by the greatest power in the world. Which African country packs such a clout? Respect is earned!

To be continued tomorrow.
Onaiyekan is a visiting member, The Guardian Editorial Board.


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