How can the people of Bong afford to make their own son, Sanoyea-born Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale, Liberia’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, ashamed like that?
Dr. Gwenigale, along with his boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, her entire government, the vast majority of Liberian people and institutions, as well as our international partners, are striving the hardest to eradicate the Ebola virus.
Ordinary Liberians everywhere, well, except in Bong County, are striving religiously to obey and abide by all the measures the Health Ministry has put in place to eradicate the deadly viral infection.
People in most places are, for now, willingly and wholeheartedly suspending cultural and traditional practices, since they have been warned that those practices cause the spread of Ebola. People are washing their hands, reporting the sick to health authorities and insisting that those with any kind of infection go and get themselves tested. People, even the Muslims now, have stopped touching bodies. People have stopped hiding sick people at home. People in many places, WITHOUT WAITING TO BE TOLD, are also quarantining themselves JUST TO ARREST THE SPREAD OF THIS DEADLY VIRUS.
But no, not in Bong County!
They want to continue to practice their CULTURE, as though they think they are the only ones who have culture. Do they have more culture than the Golas, Deys and Vais of Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties? Do Bong people have more culture than the Lofa people, especially the Lorma, Gbandi and Mandingo, ALL of whom, from childhood, call the Kissis their “uncles and aunts”? This is an enduring cultural tradition that is passed on from generation to generation. Every Lorma and Gbandi knows that when they see a Kissi man, they should bow and surrender everything, if the Kissi “uncle” wants it.
But this editorial is not about lessons in culture. It is about the stubborn behavior of many of the Bong people, which is causing Ebola to spread in that county when everywhere else in the country the numbers of infection and death are going down.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO), which earlier this week was still predicting that by December ensuing, Ebola would have killed 90,000 Liberians alone, by this Wednesday somersaulted on their apocalyptic (disastrous, Judgment Day) prediction. WHO’s Assistant Director General, Bruce Alyward, confessed on Wednesday that “. . . the trend is real in Liberia, and there may indeed be a slowing. Do we feel confident that the response is now getting an upper hand on the virus? Yes, we are seeing a slowing rate of new cases, very definitely.”
The most puzzling question about WHO’s horrible prediction is that it took that organization a full six months to respond to the Ebola emergency in THREE West African countries, with a population of over 20 million people. They forgot that Liberia was one of the only two African nations (also Ethiopia) to sign the Charter creating WHO in 1948. WHO’s Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan also forgot that as Director of Health in the Hong Kong Government, she led the fight against a disease outbreak in her own country.
That was how she got elected to this exalted position as WHO DG. Yet when it was something affecting ‘those Africans,’ let them wait. And while we waited, we were dropping dead everywhere. And guess what: She is still calling herself WHO Director General. Others, in the face of such catastrophic failure, would have gracefully bowed out. That is what the Director of the Secret Service in Washington, D.C., Julia Pierson, promptly did after an armed intruder—who killed no one—entered the White House. The Secret Service Director took personal responsibility for what happened.
But WHO’s reversal of its pessimistic predictions is proof that people throughout Liberia—except in Bong County—are strictly obeying the rules, causing the number of infections and deaths to go down everywhere—except in Bong County. The county’s Chief Health Officer, Dr. Samson Azoakoi, said earlier this week that the number of infections and deaths in the county are rapidly increasing because of the people’s behavior and attitude; their stubborn “culture of silence” in reporting their sick; and their unwillingness to quarantine themselves when they get the Ebola symptoms.
Well, this is most unfortunate and probably the GOL should quarantine Bong County, so that none of their infected persons will travel from there and spread
the deadly virus anew to other places in the country. And the Bong people would have themselves to blame for this embarrassing but necessary move.