As I listened to the song, by multiple award-winning singer and songwriter, Alicia Keys, titled “We are Here” and at the same time read the heartbreaking, but hope-filled letter written by the president of Liberia, Her Excellency, Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on the epidemic that threatens the very existence of mankind – Ebola; I realized that this is just another opportunity for mankind to show its resilience and to fight back against anything that threatens our existence, but so far, we’ve fallen short.
My country, my beloved Nigeria, did an amazing job in standing against this virus and we won. We won and are celebrating, maybe too early. The truth is that as long as the Ebola virus is still somewhere out there in this world, our existence is threatened. We all still face the risk of being wiped out nation by nation. This is a virus that neither respects persons nor borders: even the so “glorified” white man is at as much risk as the “condemned” black man. Some parts of the world are calling for West Africa to be shutout from the world till the plague is totally exterminated. But I ask, “Will it be merciful enough to wipe out just ‘us’ and leave ‘them’?” It was given an inch and it has taken over 5000 lives. Our mothers – loving, hardworking, dedicated and resilient African mothers have changed the world and will continue, as long as they are given the opportunity to live. Our fathers – the breadwinners in most homes, who many young boys look up to their entire lives; the ones who first teach us tough love are being taken away in their numbers, leaving young children – if they survive, at the mercy of life! Boys, girls, best friends, cousins, neighbours, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts… all dying in the most unthinkable way – not even befitting of a proper burial: and how we, Africans, love to show that last respect!
The virus threatens our very traditional values. We love to eat with our hands; handshakes and hugs are symbolic ways of greeting – they are part of our daily lives. This virus seeks to break our confidence and spirit and we cannot let it win!!! It is time for the world to stand up, because we are all at risk.
In any way you can show support and offer help, please do not neglect it. Be it through relief funds, prayers, by volunteering to be health workers, educating people, or being health and hygiene-conscious – just keep fighting. No matter how little or insignificant we think our efforts are, it is in our best interest to keep at it, as opposed to doing nothing. Although there is yet to be a cure, we cannot just fold our arms and wait for it to overwhelm us all. Let us keep doing what has been done to contain the virus, so far, and that has brought success stories in some areas.
This is our civil war! If we win, we win together: if we loose, we loose together. Let us spread the word till the whole world is alert to the dangers we are facing from this deadly virus. It starts with you and me. We can do this, we have done it before and we will do it again.
Remember, “We are here for all of us.”