Africa Stop Ebola – Various Artists
Africa Stop Ebola is the song for a public-awareness campaign spearheaded by a host of African musicians in response to the continuing Ebola virus outbreak. Contributing artists hail from Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and – of course – Mali. It has all the makings of a perfect campaign song. Importantly in this case the song is sung in many different languages from widely spoken European imports of English and French to regional languages like Soussou, Bambara, Kissi and Lingala.
Secondly, the message is clear: Do not despair, work together and trust the doctors. This is to remedy the overwhelming testimony being heard from national and international health workers battling on the front line: society is in disarray, at the brink of collapse. A situation exacerbated by the isolation, quarantine and other foreign healthcare practices which – though absolutely necessary – are driving a wedge between patients and health workers. Natasha Lewer, a UK medic who valiantly answered MSF’s desperate staffing call, shared her experience of Sierra Leone here. An excerpt from the article is below and highlights the need for restoring trust in healthcare in Africa:
“Everyone here is keen to do anything they can to stop the disease that’s threatening to unravel their whole society – it’s already made travel impossible, put an end to parties and funerals, closed schools and universities, made food prices rocket, and instilled suspicion and fear – of neighbours, friends and even family. “There are no gatherings or naming ceremonies, people are even scared of going to church,” MSF counsellor Tamba says. “They are afraid to do all the things that used to make them happy.”
Mothers no longer want to bring their sick children to MSF’s paediatric hospital in case they get taken away by an alien in a spacesuit and are never seen again. As a result, many of the children only arrive when they are so ill that it’s too late to save them.”
So it is a certain blessing that so many big-name musicians have lent themselves to this campaign. On a recently compiled list by Forbes of the 40 most influential celebrities in Africa – at list upon which musicians dominate – its the 4 Malian collaborators (Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Amadou & Miriam), out of the whole group, to make it in there. Musicians are obviously doing there bit. The same cannot be said for the sporting world. The logistics of travelling teams has spiralled into mixed messages, misinformation and international finger-pointing over the viability of both the Africa Cup of Nations in January/February 2015 and the Fifa Club World Cup in two months time.
Crucially, the song is so easy-going and so inoffensive to the ears it could be played over and over. Which it should, obviously.
Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.
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