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Chinese origin, American name, wahala for Nigeria

By Kole Omotoso
16 February 2020   |   2:22 am
Anyone familiar with the health system in Nigeria seeing the handling of the corona virus in China and its oversea colonies of Great Britain and North America will sigh for us.

Anyone familiar with the health system in Nigeria seeing the handling of the corona virus in China and its oversea colonies of Great Britain and North America will sigh for us. A hospital for a thousand beds built and equipped in ten days? Are you kidding? Thousands of potential patients tested on arrival and quarantined for 14 days? Where will they stay? How will all the in-coming travelers be monitored to ensure accuracy? So many questions!

The initial announcement about corona virus was that it originated in China, in the province of Hubei, in the town of Wuhan.China is famous for its pursuit of its traditional medicine through its use of animal horns, animal tusks and animal scales. There are open markets where the meat of these animals are openly sold and transported world-wide.

Initially, the disease was known. Respiratory complications and possible death. As at now death as a result of the corona virus is put at 900 i China and the rest of the world. The challenge to doctors and medical researchers is to nail it origin and device a cure for it.

From all available information China has shared details of its knowledge about the unknown virus. Are there laboratories in Africa receiving this information?
Research at he University of Texas revealed that the endangered species pangolin is the origin of the corona virus. This finding was confirmed by researchers at the South China Agricultural University where work on the pangolin is at an advanced stage. What is of interest is that there is an African link to the story. Professor Ray Jansen of the Tswane University of Technology commented on the finding about the pangolin origin of the corona virus. Professor Jansen is the founder and director of the African Pangolin Working Group. It is a non-profit research organisation attached to the Tswane University of Technology.

Professor Jansen’s comments come after the research result was made available to the general public. It is not as if his organisation was contacted by the Chinese researchers into the pangolin origin of the corona virus.

There is nothing strange or unusual in Africa being ignored in matters that concern Africa and are of the most primary relation to African dietary practice and general health. A few days ago the United Nations confessed that the organisation had set a committee to wok on ending the civil war in Libya. There was no African in the committee and no African country was involved. In the meantime the African Union has trumpeted forth their policy of silencing the guns in Africa this year 2020. How do you silence the guns when those in charge of selling guns to both sides are members of the committee in charge of ending the war? We will find, come the end of 2020, the guns of insurrection, terrorism, civil war and other forms guns booming in Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia etc are still booming. Why? This is because Africa and Africans are not ever invited to these committees that matter. And the question is: how do Africa and Africans get invited to the places of relevance and importance to Africa and the world? It is good to report the UN has now decided to include Africa in the committee in charge of ending hostilities in Libya.

To return to the matter in hand, the matter of the origin of the corona virus. Professor Jansen is able to deepen the research result. His organization’s research is able to reveal that the African pangolin ‘fed on either arboreal or terrestrial ant nests that could have [been] infected with fresh faecal matter from a bat.’ Professor Jansen adds that ‘African pangolins were frequently consumed in central and west Africa and similar threats would also then exist’.

It is of interest that the professor has students from different African countries. A Ghanaian student who had written on the bush meat industry in Ghana is able to testify to the widespread use of pangolin as delicacy in west Africa. A Nigerian is quoted as sworn to eating pangolin meat for ever and he does not believe that pangolin is on the endangered list of animals that might varnish from our lives. It is not just the meat eaten but the scales are highly sought after by the Chinese. So Nigeria is a major source of pangolin scales. Pharmacists in China are licensed to make extractions from these scales for Chinese traditional medicine. Since the beginning of 2019 customs officials have confiscated more than 50 tons of African pangolin scales en route from Nigeria to Asia.

Humane Society International ‘works around the globe to promote the human-animal bond, protect street animals, support farm animal welfare, stop wildlife abuse, eliminate painful animal testing, respond to natural disasters and confront cruelty to animals in all of its forms.’ In its wildlife concern the Humane Society International-Africa calls for research ‘to prevent the eating of pangolins leading to their survival as an endangered species. Appeals to China ‘to choose between the narrow interest of wildlife businesses and national interest of public health.’

Organizations such as Humane Society International must extend their campaign to Africans or are also involved in the wildlife trade and business as well ‘exotic food lovers’ on the cheap. Any one who has travelled in the southern states in Nigeria cannot but notice the wildlife displayed on the sides of the road. They are supplied by local hunters and the women who sell these bush meeting make a brisk business. Their customers are the most cynical about the possibility of climate change affecting their joyous feeding on pangolin.

The question to ask is why we do not have more research organizations like the African Pangolin Working Group in the different universities for those lecturers clamoring form international publications. There is so much to research at home to take to the international community. With that, Africa and African scientists will be noticed and the international audience will sit up and take notice just as Prof Jansen and his organization have been noticed. When we do the work the notice and further work will follow.

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