Are Africans Being Treated Disrespectfully In Ebola-Centered Discussions? This Nigerian American Writer Thinks So

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[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”585″]Ebola ILO[/media-credit]Editor’s Note: Reading the piece by Nneka M. Okona in Ebony brought about mixed feelings. Most of us have lived through the ebola scare particularly when it came to Nigeria. The Naija Housewives’ team operates out of Lagos and Port Harcourt and those were the two cities where patients were diagnosed with ebola. It was a scary time for us all especially those of us with children. We have lived through ebola, but we’ve also watched the way it’s been handled globally and for most of us, the temptation is there to believe that different standards are used on those from the African continent. Several millions of dollars have recently been donated to be used in fighting ebola, but we can’t help observing that the spread of the disease to the U.S. seems to have been the trigger. Nneka’s article, while it does not go into all these, captures our feelings perfectly and it is interesting to get the point of view from someone living in the U.S.

In the past few months as Ebola has affected the west African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, I’ve watched slews of ignorant banter on social media— Facebook, Twitter and yes, even memes on Instagram — ensue with a sense of hysteria, the same hysteria which accompanied those who naively watched “Outbreak” in the 90s and upheld it as scientific gospel. I’ve seen people I previously respected give commentary on why those aid workers who risked their lives to help those in need affected by Ebola should “stay where they are” and cowered in fear once it was reported they were transported back to the States to receive much needed treatment to become well again.

I’ve held my opinions close to my chest, part composure, part not knowing how to feel, how to properly articulate my anger, sadness and mass of complicated feelings. For me, as a Nigerian American woman, this isn’t just another health scare which will blow up news waves for months on end then disappear from headlines once no one really cares anymore.

This is personal.

There’s the stress and the distant sense of worry which I can do very little to resolve. I have aunts and cousins in Lagos, Nigeria. Each morning when I wake up and am bombarded by the growing number of deaths due to this disease, I wonder if a family member will be next. I wonder each day if they’re safe or if they’ve succumbed to any of the telltale symptoms of the disease’s presence in a human body. But there’s nothing I can do except maybe pray and hope for the best.

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