Africans don’t just live to die. A response to the New York Times.
If reporting on Africa just caters to readers craving a glimpse into the strangeness of how the other half lives, we lose the chance for true internationalism.
Were it not for the notoriety of Western media’s often reductionist reporting of the Global South, I would be confounded by the New York Times article published on 4 January entitled “A Continent Where the Dead Are Not Counted”. Bylined from Lagos, its central thesis is that the low death rates from COVID-19 in “Africa” are because Africans do not report deaths.
It suggests that the actual death rate in countries on the continent could be anywhere from the publicly reported rates to the kinds of high rates reported in Europe and the Americas. What this implies is that death is so commonplace in “Africa” that if about 1 in every 1,000 people – the current reported death rate from COVID-19 in the US – died from a previously unknown illness in a matter of months, it could go unnoticed and unrecorded.
The article’s premise is astounding. The piece is neither reporting nor analysis as the evidence doesn’t go much beyond the anecdotal. The title is outlandish, lampooning an entire continent while the text itself only mentions only three of Africa’s 54 countries. Its underlying assumption is that if rich countries have suffered, Africa must have suffered worse. If that’s not the case, then it must be because the suffering has been rendered invisible by some uniquely African incompetence.
Its depiction of the continent will also ring false to many people who have seen how countries in Africa and the West have responded to the pandemic. When I flew to Kenya in late-January 2020, for instance, airport officials had already implemented temperature checks and contact tracing protocols. Even in March 2020, airports in Europe and the US were still largely operating as usual.
I had a similar experience travelling this winter. When my family wanted to travel from Nairobi to Tanzania, we required negative COVID-19 test results to be allowed entry. I called the National Influenza Centre and, within hours, a professional came to my home where she collected our samples donned in full personal protective equipment (PPE). This stood in stark contrast to when I’d travelled from New York to Kenya a month before. In the US, I struggled to obtain the necessary PCR test. When I did, my sample was taken by a nurse whose only protection from the hundreds of potential carriers she encountered each day was a surgical mask.
While these experiences are anecdotal, you can imagine my consternation when reading the New York Times article.
Given the novelty of the coronavirus, the truth is that every country worldwide is facing the same problem: how to detect, classify and record deaths from COVID-19. It is widely accepted that the actual death rate is higher everywhere than is currently reported. The article doesn’t provide any evidence that reporting of COVID-19 deaths is less accurate in Africa than anywhere else, though it implies data collected by countries in Africa without the international stamp of approval are unreliable.
Strengthening vital registration systems in many countries is a genuine issue. However, there is huge variation between countries. Some such as Egypt, South Africa and Seychelles have compulsory universal registration systems. Others such as Nigeria and Niger, as the article correctly points out, lag behind. In my own country, Kenya, it is not possible to “bury loved ones in their yard at home”, as the article suggests, without a burial permit. Kenya is also building a compulsory digitised system with a single record capturing all vital and civil data for every Kenyan, a project more advanced and ambitious than in many high-income countries.
It also bears reiterating that official death records are not the only means of detecting a disease outbreak. Public officials have other tools for recognising aberrant mortality patterns including surveillance systems which report unusual events. This reporting is what traced the 2014 Ebola outbreak to its patient zero in the remote village of Gueckedou in southeastern Guinea.
More importantly, even in the absence of adequate testing, diagnosis and reporting, COVID-19 death rates on the scale seen in Western countries would have been a cause for alarm in any one of Africa’s 54 countries. Africans don’t just live to die!
The question addressed by the New York Times article does warrant serious analysis: what factors contribute to the pattern of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 seen in African countries? Why is it different from early predictions? The answer will be nuanced, and there is emerging evidence from early scientific analyses.
Demography – Africa’s youthful population – may be an important factor, but it gets only a passing mention. Effective countermeasures implemented by governments may also be a strong explanatory element but is completely ignored.
Many countries implemented strict lockdowns early on. Innovations in detection, management and supply chain have improved country responses. Rwanda is utilising robots to support diagnosis. Other countries are using robust community healthcare systems to continue providing essential services. An unprecedented collaboration across the continent led by the African Union also contributed to strengthening testing, disease management, supplies, and, currently, vaccine preparedness.
These and many other positive stories hardly make headlines in mainstream Western media reporting. As Nanjala Nyabola points out in the Boston Review: “perhaps the long shadow that Western imperialism still casts on the continent encourages the lazy tendency to view Africa through the lens of the United States’ and Europe’s devastating experience, encouraging the assumption that Africa’s trajectory must either mimic the West in extension or opposition, rather than having its own trajectory produced by regional and national contexts.”
Countries in Africa continue to suffer due to the direct and indirect consequences of the pandemic. Some leaders have done a poor job in managing the epidemic and every country has faced serious socioeconomic constraints. However, by and large, if one were looking to generalise, then a round of applause for a job well done would be due.
As long as reporting of Africa and other parts of the Global South continues to be addressed to an audience craving a glimpse into the strangeness of how the other half lives (or dies), such articles will continue to be churned out. What is lost with this imperialist view is incalculable. The dignity of the people of an entire continent. Serious analysis and comparison of approaches to solving global problems. The ability to learn from one another. The chance to see ourselves as part of a whole, more similar in our humanity than different. And the opportunity for true internationalism.
Thank you for this article. I totally agree, as it echos my experience of living in Ghana for most of 2020. I can say that the actions taken by the Akufo Addo Government in tackling the pandemic was exemplary. There was an effective track and trace system in place. And as early as January 2020, when we left the country for London, there were temperature checks, and requirements to fill out health forms. This practice remains throughout, unlike the experience in London, with no visible officials on the ground to allay the impression of any kind of enforcement and that it is not business as usual.
It is such a pity that there is no sense of humility that we can learn from each other, and that the ability to act effective and efficiently is not only endowed to the West alone.
South Africa in ‘mourning,’ as cases rise, death’s rise,
and NO HOPE for
‘new variant,’ strain…??
by Christy Honey
(January 2021—BBC News) President of SA,
Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa is
‘once again,’ breaking headlines with the ban
on alcohol, the cigarette
ban in March 2020, the vaccine of the new Covid 19
and pressures from government officials how billions
of Rands have gone missing since this pandemic began.
“We are still investigating how and where the money
and my meetings
In court this week will be to discuss why
cigarettes affect the
lungs in a Covid 19,
patient.’ he said.
BBC World News reports that ‘the new variant,’
in Britain is
different from that in
South Africa, as the variant in South Africa
is much more
potent and transferrable.
“We have locked down the UK, until March 2021,
and our advice to
Is once again to lock down the country,
as in March 2020.’
drilled British PM, Mr.
As the virus brings a cold ‘gloom ‘n doom,’ to the world,
President of The United States,
Mr. Donald Trump says that he ‘will not concede,’
the election 2020, as fraud and cheating
were the ‘underlying factors,’ in this election.
“The President was caught on a leaked phone call, with
Georgia Republicans trying to steal
11 780 votes. This is unprecedented and he should be arrested.’
broiled CNN News.
Pick ‘n Pay, The Omar Abdulla Group, South African Airways,
Nedbank, SABC NEWS and Netcare have pledged an
undisclosed amount to the distribution of the rumored
vaccine to arrive in South Africa, March 2021.
“We are working on improving the Oxford
vaccine as this
vaccine cannot assist the patient,
with the new strain of the virus in South Africa.
We are working with doctors and senior business
partners so that this vaccine can make the
patient immune to this new stain.’
Whilst the virus was once upon a time a story of numbers,
a story of who
we know or who has the virus, but we all have the virus, and
we have to be
‘strong willed,’ to fight this virus,
broom-ed a Western Cape doctor.
“Exercise, drink plenty of water,
and obey your government regulations.’
According to The New York Times, this evil new variant is a
different dose of Covid 19,
with now three strands attaching itself to your
lungs instead of one.
“This virus from South Africa, calls for another
full lockdown in
South Africa, as the UK.’
“Covid 19 has made the world so much more
global and yet so much closer,
where I can speak to my family and friends in just a phone call.’ kissed a Taiwan
The Durban Daily coiled on their website that
well-known community leader,
Rivaaj Ramdass was the latest victim of this devilish virus.
“Our condolences to the family of this community
leader, and may his soul rest in peace.’ added President Ramaphosa.
Across the globe from The United States to South Africa,
and even Macau have seen cases rise, and we are all waiting for
our corrupt governments for this vaccine,
but will this vaccine actually make
us immune to the virus, and will the $44 dollars that we spend
on this Oxford vaccine, work,
asked a Johannesburg resident…??
Concluding his remarks to The California Times,
Mr. Omar Abdulla says that with close to
one hundred million residents across the world
having the virus,
we should all stay home,
stay safe and pray for the loved ones that
we miss so much…
What people need to respect first and foremost is that AFRICA is not a country! It is an extremely heterogeneous region, there are different countries with different stories. Having said that, I will focus on Kenya where I live.
If indeed our COVID-19 infection and death rates were following the US trajectory, we would have been experiencing extraordinary strain on our health systems and would be witnessing abnormally high deaths which one can track due to our social set up that involves sharing information of deaths and providing support for interment.
Kenya has a robust public health information system which is well respected, and this has contributed to behavior-change, which in turn has contributed to controlling the spread of COVID — this perhaps is not the case in US (I stand to be corrected). There could also be other factors like demographics, genetics, environment and health practices that warrant research.
Excellent reply/critical analysis of a NYT article which is insufficient on all accounts!
Keep promoting the true spirit of Global Health, Mamka!
It has been said that TB inoculation may also have helped us in South Africa.
Elon Musk, Omar Abdulla,
and Patrice Motsepe see
‘new heights,’ on investments into
by Farhana Essop
(March 2021—CNBC) The Wolf of Wall Street, Mr. Omar Abdulla
attended meetings with
Billionaire Investor Mr. Elon Musk, recently sighting up to
10 million residents living on
the planet Mars, by 2050.
“We have invested heavily into Space X and The Omar Abdulla Group so that
will be able to live on Mars, and to see the growth of the human species,
Speaking to Footprints in California, Mr. Omar Abdulla says that
he had assisted Musk on formulating ‘easier and faster ways,’
to reach the planet, during ‘peak windows…’
“Normally to travel to Mars, will be about 180 million miles, but with
calculations and spectrum,
we can reach Mars, by only travelling 30 million miles,
when Earth and Mars are closest.’
President of The United States, Mr. Joe Biden who recently signed a $1.9 trillion
dollar stimulus package added that Musk and Abdulla were well groomed
in growing humanity to the red planet.
“Mars is simply just too cold for life, but Musk has said with the using of
nuclear weapons to warm the planet, who knows
10 million people could be on Mars, by 2050.’
South African businessman, Mr. Patrice Motsepe who spoke to
looped that he has looking into Mars, as the future of
humanity and supported
Abdulla’s approach to reaching the planet faster, and Musk’s ideas
of warming the planet so that water can be found on the planet.
“Using nuclear weapons to bomb the planet could result in a thicker
atmosphere for life.’ he
The Omar Abdulla Group is an investment company into
Tik Tok SA,
YouTube SA, Space X SA,
Communities SA, Forex SA, and Vaccines SA.
“The company is headed for ‘new heights,’ with the investment
into Space X SA,
that could see many South African’s soon relocating to Mars.’
read the company website.
Concluding his remarks to The New York Times, Mr. Elon Musk says
that Mars is the future of civilization and his investment into Abdulla’s
company and other related companies could see
a redder morning Sun, a healthier breath of fresh air on Mars,
and the development of resources that could billions of dollars
for shareholders of his companies.
Posted by Omar ABdulla at 04:38 No comments: Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest
Monday, 15 February 2021
“The RISE of Tik Tok and The FALL” of Instagram,
says King of
Tik Tok, Omar Abdulla…??
by Farhana Mohammed
(February 2021—Beijing) The King of Tik Tok, Omar Abdulla
spoke briefly to
fans outside his Durban home this afternoon
stating that the failure
over the last several years, has forced him to move his business
to Tik Tok.
“We had over a million following on Instagram, and we just
not getting the likes
and following anymore. The company has ‘shifted and lifted,’
forcing my company to re-look at Tik Tok.
The failing Laudium Times, read in their low-quality
newspaper that Abdulla was
fast becoming one of South Africa’s treasured and pleasured
playboys after hit
singles with Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Shar Rukh Khan.
“We performed to our hit musical at the Zoo lake,
and I trust his influence
on Tik Tok. It was great to meet and dance
with the best dancer in the world’ Bieber pooled.
Disgraced Ceo of Instagram SA, Mr. Daya Naik added that
The Omar Abdulla Group was now
‘pulling out,’ of large investments into Instagram and
shifting advertising options to clients
on Tik Tok.
“Consumers are now starting to shift their viewership from
Instagram to Tik Tok,
as the application has better quality, better influencers
and better liking for
market. Fans and followers
are just not loyal enough to keep following’
The Omar Abdulla Group is an investment company into Instagram SA,
Tik Tok SA, Forex SA, Bitcoin SA and Vaccines SA, with the company
stating that advertising revenue
was still on the upbeat although
the change in market share.
Speaking to The Beijing Daily, Ceo of Tik Tok,
Ms. Vanessa Pappas
says that Tik Tok groups
and sharing criteria were on the rise, with some groups
with over a million followers.
“Our advice to social media influencers is to use
Facebook and WhatsApp
sharing groups, where each group has over
a million followers.’
Former Ceo, of Vodacom, South Africa, Mr. Shameel Joosub
croaked that Vodacom
will soon be offering free services for social media browsing
and ‘laughed and joked,’
at the cute videos of Mr. Omar Abdulla.
“He always amazed me with his brilliant and stylish
and I cannot wait
With the shift in focus from newspapers to online,
makes The Omar Abdulla Group
South Africa’s leading and fastest
growing companies with plans
of the rollout of the vaccines
In South Africa during March 2021.
“Together with government and Vaccines SA,
the swap of new vaccines
to arrive in South Africa,
will arrive soon, with the new variant of Covid 19,’
kissed Vaccines SA,
Managing Director, Ms. Patricia Nkosi.
“Let’s put Instagram to bed, and lets make love to Tik Tok,’
joked an SA resident.
Ex-President of The United States, Mr. Donald Trump
who was recently
banned from Twitter says that he will be looking
at buying shares into
The Omar Abdulla Group for the development of
technology to compete both Twitter and
“Twitter and Facebook are for the more mature audience,
whilst Instagram and Tik Tok
remains for the younger market.’
Wrapping up his statement to The New York Times,
President Joe Biden
says that he will closely monitor the ‘going on,’ with Tik Tok
demand a share in the Chinese owned company,
as the company
will soon over-take Instagram.
“I try to stay a w a y from the media,
but as Tik Tok gets bigger
than the inadequate
Instagram, the new horizon of
Tik Tok looms.’ he boomed.
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