The government has itself admitted that Liberia today faces the worst health crisis in its history—the Ebola pandemic. Never before have our people been dropping dead by the minute all over the country.
Even the founding fathers and mothers and the brothers and sisters they met on the ground in 1822, leading to the establishment of the republic and beyond, did not drop dead like this. Remember, they were totally unprepared for the deadly malaria disease. But most survived it.
Elijah Johnson, who led his colleagues from Shebro Island in Sierra Leone to Providence Island, survived until he became part of the Constitutional Convention of 1847. He signed the Declaration of Independence on July 26 that year; witnessed the first election that produced Joseph Jenkins Roberts as our first President; fathered our nation’s 11th President, Hilary Richard Wright Johnson; and died in 1849, after making sure Liberia had become an independent republic.
Our infant and maternal mortality rates are still high, but here, too, we have made steady progress, especially in the past several years.
But this Ebola tragedy is something else, totally different from anything we have ever experienced. It is a drastic disease that calls for drastic responses.
One such response relates to how we dispose of bodies—the disease’s deadly denouement.
We would like to propose the building of CREMATORIA (CREMATORIUMS) throughout Liberia. Why?
We make this call in grateful recognition of one of the great blessings the good Lord has bestowed upon Liberia: PLENTIFUL WATER!
Few of us yet know exactly how many rivers Liberia has, but they are numerous. Most of us know the major ones—the St. Paul, Mano, Farmington, the Du, Marshall, St. John, Cavala, Cestos, Lofa and the Makona. But there are many more.
We also know of Liberia’s two great lakes—Lake Piso in Grand Cape Mount County and Lake Shepherd in Maryland County. Lake Piso is so huge and sometimes so rough that President Tubman called it “an inland sea.”
There are yet numerous creeks, including the Stockton.
What does all this mean and what is its relevance to Ebola? It means that because of all this water, the country’s water table is VERY HIGH, and this is especially true in Montserrado, Margibi. Grand Bassa, Cape Mount and some other counties.
And what does the water table have to do with Ebola? EVERYTHING! International economists and hydrological experts have warned that the world’s next looming crisis which, if we are not careful, could provoke war, is WATER—or the scarcity thereof. This economic and geophysical reality places Liberia in an enviable position—for it means that one day, in addition to our minerals, rubber and hopefully petroleum, we could also be exporting WATER as a foreign exchange earner. But . . .
And here’s the BIG BUT: Liberia could one day become a water power IF—and this is, again, a BIG IF, IF we do not contaminate our water with the Ebola dead!
What do we mean? We mean that this habit this our government has of burying Ebola dead all over the place is dangerously unnecessary and amounts to a slap in the face of our Creator who has blessed us with all this water.
It has been said that when bodies are “properly sprayed and buried” the virus will die. But how many bodies are properly handled? We submit that this is a big risk.
Do we remember that the people in Johnsonville, Montserrado County, are now afraid to drink from their river because of the Ebola bodies that were dumped near it several weeks ago?
GOL should adopt a policy declaring that ALL Ebola bodies should be CREMATED. We understand that just last Saturday an Ebola body, belonging to GOL itself, was buried in Thinkers’ Village in Paynesville, a city with one of the highest water tables in the land.
We appeal to GOL to STOP immediately burying Ebola bodies and start CREMATING them.
Let us take advantage of the many Indians in the country who know all about cremations and how to do them. They can help us build crematoria in all nine of the affected counties. GOL should build at least two crematoria in every county, and four in the larger counties; then make it illegal to bury any Ebola body.