By: Kadiker Rex Dahn, MA, M.Ed, PhD
The angel of death, through its assigned agent, the Corona Virus, is indiscriminately killing people all over the world. The Covid-19 Virus started its deadly mission in the People’s Republic of China and then to Europe, America, Africa and the world at large. The death threat posed by COVId-19 Virus is unthinkable and uncontrollable. This deadly Virus knows no boundary, country, continent, ethnic group, white, black and the list goes on. Medical researchers relentlessly are in the laboratories struggling to find a curable vaccine. In an effort to find a vaccine that would serve as a panacea for Covid-19, two French doctors proposed testing a vaccine in Africa. Such proposal was denounced in the highest terms by the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyeus, who is an African. On the other hand, Liberia’s infectious disease expert, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, who equally is an African by birth, gave his approbation for the vaccine to be tested on Africans. We ask, has the spirit of colonialism embedded in imperialism navigated its way in the thought, analysis and comprehension of Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan? The purpose of this article is to argue Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan has qualified and certificated himself as an agent of the imperialist system. By his own admission and utterance, we declared him as an agent of the imperialist system.
According to the BBC as reported in the Daily Observer on April 7, 2020, two French doctors, Camille Locht and Jean Paul Mira proposed to do a COVID-19 vaccine trial in Africa. The head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros termed such proposal as “racist” and a “colonial mentality.”According to the BBC, Dr. Tedros stated, “it is a disgrace, appalling to hear during the 21st Century to hear from scientists that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen.” Giving support to Dr. Tedros’s statement against the two French scientists, a son of Africa and former footballer, Didier Drogba referred to the statement made by the scientists as “deeply racist.” Drogba further stated, “Do not take African people as guinea pigs! It is absolutely disgusting.” Another son of Africa and former footballer, Samuel Eto referred to those two doctors as “murderers.”
On April 10, 2020, Daily Observer carried an opinion piece by Augustine Kphe Nguafuan, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia under the caption, “I Stand against Death Threats and Racist Insults. I Stand with DG Tedros.” In this article referenced above as well as comments from Dr. Tedros, Drogba and Eto, one can deduce that racism and colonial behavior intended to subdue and undermine Africans and minorities are at work. With such clear colonial mentality, for a Liberian medical doctor, Dougbeh Chris Nyan, to give his approbation for the vaccine formulated by the two French doctors to be tried in the Continent of Africa is unthinkable. On April 8, 2020, the Daily Observer quoting Dr. Nyan stated, “it is unfortunate that the perception about what the two doctors suggested became a continental or racial issue. But through history, no vaccine has been tried on persons already affected with a sickness for whose cure the very vaccine was made. Africa is less affected now and should there be a vaccine today, the continent would be a good ground for the test.”
Here, in our opinion, the learned infectious disease expert, Dr. Nyan has a twisted comprehension why vaccine trials are done elsewhere than the affected area. Dr. Nyan claimed that Africa would be a good ground for the trial because the continent is not affected compare to other continents and countries. We ask, if the continent of Africa was affected like Europe, would he equally propose for vaccine trials that will safe Africans be tested in Europe? The two scientists in question are French citizens. We do not want to dig past ugly history of colonial masters but at this point, we are forced to set the record straight. French imperialism is incomparable to any colonial rule. The French were vicious and inhumane. Someone may ask, what does vaccine trials have to do with colonialism? There is a Liberian adage that says that when one has been bitten by a snake, when he or she sees a lizard, such person considers such lizard to be a snake.
The two French scientists are sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of the French colonial power. They equally may have been properly schooled in the way of their colonial fathers. There is no evidence that we can point to suggest that these two French scientists are like their colonial fathers in thoughts, beliefs, practices and way of life neither is there any evidence to point that they are not the “real sons” of their imperialist fathers. However, because of cultural miseducation to borrow a phrase from Jane Roland Martin, a feminist and philosopher, we tend to be apprehensive of their decision to do a vaccine trial in Africa. We wonder whether Dr Nyan is fully aware of French colonial rule and practices in Africa where Africans were brutally and inhumanely treated?We wonder whether Dr. Nyan is aware of other failed vaccine test in Africa? If Dr. Nyan is aware of such failed test and yet wants Africa to be a testing ground, we will conclude that he is certainly an incarnation of real imperialism. Dr. Nyan claims of trial vaccine being effective in an unaffected area than the affected area, is preposterous. As a medical professional, we wonder whether Dr. Nyan is fully aware of HIV vaccine failed trials in South Africa? The New York Times, on February 4, 2020 published an article under the caption, “Another HIV Vaccine Fails a Trial, Disappointing Researchers.”
Failed HIV vaccine tests in South Africa
In this article, the Times inform us that after more than 30 years of research, 1.7 million people are still infected each year with the virus that causes AIDS. Consequently, the Times stated, “in the long quest to prevent HIV infection, a trial in South Africa has been shut down because an experimental vaccine was not working.” As an agent of the imperialist system, we wonder what other explanations Dr. Nyan will give to the failed HIV experiment in South Africa? Dr. Nyan’s reliance to do vaccine trials in Africa is that vaccine trials have a history (and we add a tradition) where such history and tradition do not allow testing in the affected area. Here, we argue that in this 21st Century, for Dr. Nyan to still hold to such belief is an indication that he has refused and failed to take himself out of the “box.” We made this claim because he buried his critical, analytical and intellectual abilities to question the intent, historicity and tradition of not testing in the affected area. In the very history and tradition that Dr. Nyan’s reliance is based, it is believed that those who wrote such history and transmitted both history and tradition were imperialists. Would it not be that such practice has its origin in a colonial beliefs and practices where those conquered are considered inferior compare to their colonial masters and that these masters in their own wisdom can do anything to those they have conquered? Emphatically, we ask, is such policy and tradition of not trying vaccine elsewhere written in stones that it cannot be changed? On April 17, 2020, BBC News reported that Oxford University’s Scientists have developed a vaccine and “the first patients are expected to take part in the Oxford trials next week.” This new development from Oxford debunks Dr. Nyan’s argument of not trying vaccine in the affected area.
According to worldometer, a real time world statistic, the population of France as of April 11, 2020 stands at 65,241,874. The total number of cases in France as it relates to the COVID-19 as of today, April 11, 2020 is 129,654. The total number of those who have died as ofApril 11, 2020 is 13, 832. The above statistics reminds us that the unaffected people in France stand at 65,112,220. If this position is true, while not test the proposed Vaccine on those who have not been affected and Dr. Nyan is supporting the idea for these imperialist scientists to travel to Africa with the proposed vaccine? Colonialism and colonial practices have been effective over the years because of the very few that have been indoctrinated, brainwashed with twisted minds and who at the same time have become true agents of the imperialist system, relentlessly work on behalf of their masters. Some African governments and individuals’ loyalty to colonial practices are based mainly on whatever compensation these agents receive in return for their loyalty and advocacy. This is the foundation and reason how and why the imperialist system has been alive, breathing and kicking in Africa. Certainly, like Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, it will not be strange for some African governments to embrace such imperialist endeavor.
Where Dr. Tedros sits as the Director General of World Health Organization is more informed about theories and practices than Dr. Nyan. Dr. Tedros is like a door. Where he sits, he sees both in and out of medical practices that may be both ethical and unethical. Certainly, Dr. Nyan has a right to volunteer himself for the test if he chooses to participate in such an experiment. However, to force his will on the Continent of Africa in the name of vaccine’s history, tradition and being an expert is more colonial and imperial and leaves us with no other alternatives but perhaps to conclude that he might have equally received his fair share of research funds. Be as it may, we conclude that Dr. Nyan’s assertion that vaccines are always effective in an unaffected area and thus the COVID-19 trial vaccine proposed by the French doctors should be tested in Africa is misleading and intended to endanger the lives of Africans. He failed to critically and analytically question the intent, historicity and tradition he honors. By such assertion and advocacy, we maintain Dr. Nyan has qualified and certificated himself as a true agent of the Imperialist System.
About the author:
Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Historical, Philosophical and Social Foundations of Education. He once served as a deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Director General, National Commission on Higher Education. He is a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, membership with Highest Honor. Contact: [email protected].