The Liberian Government’s announcement this week banning all beach festivities on November 29 ensuing is very timely.
The Information Ministry told the regular Ebola press briefing on Wednesday that GOL had decided to prohibit any gathering whatsoever at beaches on that day to avoid the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
The ban is particularly aimed at President William V.S. Tubman’s birthday celebration on November 29, which has over the past several years morphed into a major holiday in Liberia kicking off the Christmas season. Tubman would be surprised.
As though determined to recapture Tubman’s happy-go-lucky, libertine (unrestrained by morality) character, which most of today’s generation know little about, the nation’s youth in their thousands, converge on the beaches to party until late into the night.
In Monrovia, droves of celebrators, scantily dressed, jam up in the back of pick-ups or on the hoods and in the trunks of vehicles to get to the beaches, especially those along the Robertsfield highway. Quite often traffic on that highway and in the whole of Paynesville is blocked most of the day as people throng the beaches and entertainment spots to have a good time.
This year when Tubman’s 119th birthday falls on a Saturday the crowds would have been even bigger. Many would have forgotten that they had to attend church services on Sunday, as they reveled late into the night, in relentless, rambunctious (rowdy, high-spirited) partying.
Alas! Not this year! The deadly Ebola virus has changed all that. It is not just the economic crisis that Ebola has brought upon us. Indeed for this one day, most people would prefer to forget the crisis and spend their last to crowd the beaches and let the good time roll.
But the risk of the virus spreading again is too high and the Liberian Government is not taking any chances. Neither should any of us even for that one day.
After surviving the horrendous experience of the past several months in the grip of the deadly Ebola virus from which we are not yet free, who would want to flout (disobey) the precautions that have restrained the virus, pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory, so to speak?
The government, its foreign partners and the Liberian people themselves have joined in the unrelenting fight to contain the virus, causing us to make big gains towards its recession and finally zero cases. The least we can do is sacrifice one day of celebration.
But just to make sure, the GOL has for now banned beach gatherings on November 29.
We do not know whether we can achieve the status of “Ebola free” by Christmas, but a lot depends on the people themselves—their following all the rules, observing all the measures to prevent infection; and on the government and the international partners ‘in union strong’.
We have been striving to let the government see the need to take one other urgent action—to deploy Liberian troops, accompanied by some from the United States, at key border points, especially on the Guinea and Sierra Leone sides. This, we believe, would help stop the resurgence of the virus, by keeping it from coming again across the border.
We saw what happened last week in Jenewonde Town on the Cape Mount border with Sierra Leone.
We have to be very vigorous in protecting our borders, because while the virus is receding in Liberia, it is spreading in the other countries, especially Sierra Leone. We don’t know why. But government must take immediate action, remembering what happened in Foya, Lofa County in March: it took only one person with the virus to cross the Guinea border into Liberia. After that, the virus spread like wild fire and our country became the worst hit in the entire sub-region.
We pray that the government will go one step further in obeying the First Law of Nature: Self-Preservation.