BY IKENNA EMEWU
I still have not really taken in this terribly annoying and degrading reality that not a single country in Africa, among the 54, made an attempt to manufacture her own COVID-19 vaccines.
Don’t forget that we are discussing Africa of the 21st Century, not Africa of the colonization generation.
COVID-19 rampaged the entire world and while others went to work on finding solutions, the entire Africa, not even forming an alliance through the AU, did absolutely nothing. We went to sleep.
Doesn’t that send a very clear signal that Africa in its entirety has no leadership? Save Africa, among all the continents, there is a country at least that rose to the challenge. Asia has two – China and India. Europe has two – UK and Russia, the American continent has the US representing them, but the whole of Africa of 54 countries did NOTHING
No one made any attempt. What a big shame. This tardiness and laggard disposition imposed by Africa on herself is a dent that will take over 100 years to wipe away.
It doesn’t just make anyone proud to be African at this time.
Worst of all, an African expert, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO DG, is African and he never taught about encouraging his people even through the AU to do something about this shame.
How else would a people demonstrate docility as their true identity?
But the irony is to recall that the invention and origin of vaccination or inoculation is traced to Africa.
On a single and simple search, I encountered many of such revelations from www.qq.com and the www.washingtonpost.com among many others.
From the later, I culled this: “Go back three centuries, and one finds this: The concept of inoculation arrived in America from Africa. In fact, in the 1700s, Africans taught their technique for protecting themselves against smallpox to the very European settlers who enslaved them.
It’s a once-hidden history recounted most recently by historian Ibram X. Kendi in “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” and journalist Isabel Wilkerson in “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”
Continuing from the account, the original source of this rare revelation was a puritan preacher. Cotton Mather, son of Increase Mather, the man that founded Harvard. He revealed in 1706 in an attempt to find cure for small pox epidemic that struck Boston, USA that:
“In 1706, Mather’s congregation gave him as a gift an enslaved African he called Onesimus (the man’s original name is unknown). As was a “standard question” of the day, Mather asked Onesimus if he had had smallpox yet, according to Kendi.
“Yes and no,” Onesimus replied.
He explained to Mather that when he was a child in Africa, the pus of a smallpox victim had been scraped into his arm with a thorn — he still had the scar — to give him a mild case of the disease; now he was forever immune. It was a common practice where he came from and had been for hundreds of years, he told Mather.
Years later and after hearing about a similar practice in Turkey, Mather became fascinated and surveyed the Africans in Boston, who told him all their inoculation stories.
“In 1716, he wrote to the Royal Society of London about how he had heard of the method “from my Negro-man Onesimus, who is a pretty Intelligent Fellow.”
To underscore the efficacy of this method and the gains from it, another source attributed the spread and success of vaccination, called variolation then in the New World to Mather.
“In fact, the rapid adoption of variolation in Europe can be directly traced to the efforts of Cotton Mather during the Boston smallpox epidemic in 1721.” (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) concerning the history of vaccination and the role of Edward Jenner.
The tale of Mather tapping the knowledge from Africa was 43 years before Edward Jenner was born who history of vaccination gives the credit.
From this indisputable account, the world gained from Africa the knowledge of curing ailments and outbreaks. But today, because of the way we have managed ourselves over time, Africa is shouted down when it discusses her indigenous method of curing ailments as the world, including the WHO, did to Madagascar when it said it has its cure for the Coronavirus pandemic.
As a result of inferiority we brought on ourselves, we go home to wait for others to tell us how to live and survive.
But in recent times, we heard Prof. Maurice Iwu announce he has the means and acumen to help the world get out of the pandemic quagmire and nobody listened to him. We were more interested in sleeping and waiting for others to prepare vaccines and spoon feed us while we borrow money from the same people to buy their vaccines. Shame!
A little earlier, in 1971, University of Nigeria, Nsukka virology professor, Augustine Njoku-Obi invented cholera vaccine he endowed the world with after WHO, the same WHO that orders us to stay quiet and watch others, adopted it and put to use to battle an outbreak in Kano a year later.