I Stand Against Death Threats and Racist Insults. I Stand With WHO DG Tedros

Ngafuan and Tedros were at a point in time foreign ministers of Liberia and Ethiopia, respectively

By Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Liberia 

Before his election to the post of Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a microbiologist and internationally reputed malaria researcher, served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia (2012-2016), having previously served as Minister of Health (2005-2012). When I served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia (2012-2015), I had the opportunity to work closely with Tedros (as we affectionately called him) not only to tighten the bilateral bonds between Liberia and Ethiopia (the two oldest African countries) but also, in the context of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU), principally comprising ministers of foreign affairs of AU member states, to promote the peace, stability and advancement of the African Continent. Tedros served as Chairman of the Executive Council between 2013-2014 during which time the Council crafted, and the Assembly of Heads of State and Government endorsed, the much-touted 50-year Africa development framework, “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want” and its first ten-year implementation plan.

I and many of my colleagues, having had the sufficiency of professional interactions and proximity which enabled close assessment, came to deeply admire Tedros for his astuteness, brilliance, tenacity, humility, and exceptional leadership skills.

Tedros, the first African to head the WHO, has been doing a great job since he assumed the reins of leadership of the prestigious global body. A living memory of his leadership capabilities is reflected in the manner in which he oversaw WHO   management of the Kivu Ebola epidemic, the biggest Ebola outbreak in the history of the DR Congo. The outbreak began in August 2018 and ended a couple of weeks ago.

No doubt, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, has posed its unique set of challenges, confounding the best and smartest virologists and epidemiologists, indeed; the entire global community of medical research scientists and doctors. Medical specialists the world over, are still struggling to fully grasp the nature and behavior of this deadly and insidious enemy.  Under Tedros’ leadership, the WHO has done reasonably well in managing the COVID-19 crisis, although its effectiveness has been limited somewhat by funding challenges and the 2005 International Health Regulations. The 2005 International Health Regulations would evidently need to be updated to set the basis for responding more appropriately to the harsh and complex realities that are posed by a future global public health challenges with the speed and magnitude as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finding a fall guy or a scapegoat In the midst of a crisis is an easy and attractive option for some people. Hopefully when the global community succeeds in ending this existential health threat, there will be enough time for pundits and critics, benefitting fully from hindsight, to clearly and objectively pinpoint what the WHO, a body laden with a complex decision making process that requires technical advice every step of the way, from an International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee comprising reputable and top-class health experts from across the globe including the United States, would have done differently.  Also, at that time, pundits and critics will be able to thoroughly investigate and clearly pinpoint what heads of state and government, health experts and practitioners as well as ordinary citizens would have done differently. For now, the global community needs to work more harmoniously and remain laser-focused on defeating this deadly common enemy.

Lest I be misunderstood, I am not against good-faith critiques of WHO or any other actor, including world leaders, involved with the global fight against COVID-19. What I am completely against and find totally unacceptable is the attitude of individuals who have resorted to sending death threats to and hurling racial slurs at the Director General of the WHO, as has been reported in the media recently. Tedros is a proud and astute son of Africa. Racist comments directed at him are not just an attack on his person but an attack on Africans in general.  I therefore join my voice to that of several well-meaning individuals across the world to condemn such unfair attacks and call on the perpetrators to stop pursuing such an unfortunate path.  I also stand foursquare behind the AU Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, to “call upon international community to join hands to support the efforts of the DG and the entire WHO family as they lead global efforts to fight this pandemic.” Indeed, I STAND AGAINST DEATH THREATS AND RACIAL INSULTS. I STAND WITH TEDROS!


  1. Many thanks Ngaf for such a brilliant enlightenment, the world is watching closely. World leaders especially African heads of states should now join forces to condemn any such death threats against WHO DG Tedros. This act of evil against this erudite scholar must stop.

  2. Thanks Ngaf. That is the way to go. We must defend our best always and reject looking at them from the lenses of the external actors who have never been kind to us, even in their pretenses of being kind.

    The imperialist toxic notion that everything African is not to be respected and deserves to be devalued is what is showing its ugly head in this instant case. I believe very strongly that the death threats and insults directed at Tedros are derivatives of his brilliant decision and very firm stance to not use Africa and Africans as experimental Guinea pigs for the COVID-19 vaccines. These traditional racists think that the epicenter of the pandemic that has come to be Europe and the United States of America are too good to be testing grounds for the vaccines. Africa is the ground in their twisted opinions fit for experimenting. I don’t only reject the racist attacks and insults on our brother, I also vehemently reject the racist thought that the vaccines should be tested on us, Africans, and if they work, be taken to Europe and the United States of America to treat them to get well. This is offensively unacceptable and unbelievable in this day and age. These racistso and imperialists will never cease their attacks on the African continent and its people until the world ends. That is why we must obligate ourselves to remain committed to the betterment of Mama Africa.

    I am not surprised at all. When colonialism was fought and appeared to have been defeated, it metamorphosed into neocolonialism that is today alive and well in all its forms beginning with the notion of liberal democracy, liberal peace and the so-called free market system being superimposed upon the continent of Africa by the conceptual West.

    In time like these, men must rise to the occasion and stand on the side of the masses of Mama Africa. I too stand not only with Tedros, but also with Mama Africa.

    Down with racism, racist attacks and insults today and forever.

    I am TTY on my own lane.

  3. Thanks Ngaf for this brilliant defense of one of Africa distinguish sons. I just like to mention that I read somewhere that one of our finest sons Prof. Dr. Joseph Nagbe Togba in whom memory our Health Ministry building is named was the first Director General of WHO when it was founded in 1948.

  4. It’s been reported on CNN and other television networks by a group of researchers that after all, “stupid butt Covid-19” may not have originated in China. The researchers point out convincingly that the killer desease has been around in some developed countries (not China) for quite some time. But during the outbreak of the killer virus in the US, president Trump did not hesitate to say that Covid-19 originated from China.

    A Big Twist:
    While it is understood that Covid-19 may not have originated in China, the researchers are wondering why Covid-19 is not as active in Africa as it is in the developed world. According to the researchers, there could be a reason.

    Do the researchers want Covid-19 to slaughter Africans en mass?

    Why do the French medical scientists want to test the effectiveness of a Covid-19 drug in Africa? I am bewildered. There have been more Covid-19 deaths in Europe than in all of Africa. So, if a new discovery is made in France, it’s all good. But the suggestion by the French to do a clinical trial of a Covid-19 drug in Africa is not smart! Tedros Ghebreyesus’s opposition to the French drug being tested in Africa is a brilliant move. If African leaders could stand as tall as Ghebreyesus, I am very optimistic that Africans in general would be proud of their leaders.

    Let’s hope that the clinical trial by the French is not being done secretly in Africa. You never know what some people can do.


  5. Dear Minister Ngafuan,

    Like you, I also stand against death threats or racial attacks against Africans in such prestigious positions.
    However, there are questions at the corner of my mouth, Sir.
    Why is the WHO Director General being threatened and racially abused? What did he do to merit such?
    Is he, in any way, associated or acquiescing to Africa being used for the test of COVID-19 vaccine?

    Sir, I am simply asking because I recently followed a debate on a European TV channel during which Africa was proposed for test vaccines against the COVID-19. After this debate, stars like Samuel Eto’o Fils of Cameroun and Didier DROGBA of Cote d’Ivoire became furious and vocal against such indecent proposal, given the current trend of contamination and death rates in Africa as compared to Italy or Spain or France or the UK or the USA. This is why in Cote d’Ivoire and other African countries, the population is kicking against the setting up of any testing centers in any community.
    Do you agree that Africans are guinea pigs, Sir?

  6. Dolo,
    I think Tedros Ghebreyesus is in opposition to the French and other people who may want to test drugs on Africans in Africa. I agree with him philosophically. I don’t think it is ignoble to agree with an educated African. The former soccer players of Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire (as you rightly stated) seem to be in agreement with Ghebreyesus. What’s wrong with that? What about you and your political family Sir?

    In America, Covid-19 has taken a new twist. Let’s call its twist racial. According to reports, a majority of the people who are dying of the desease (Covid-19) are black and brown people.
    Of course, white people are dying too, but unfortunately, the poor browns (Hispanic people) and African Americans (black people) are hardest hit. Conversely, people who have died in Spain, Italy, Germany and elsewhere in Europe are whites. Also, a majority of people who died in China were Chinese. Am I wrong? So if a potent promising drug has been discovered, why not do the testing in Europe? Or does Covid-19 have different strains? It seems that Covid-19 is racist in the US, but not in places like Wuhan, China or Russia or Europe.

    Did you read about the issue of Rhineland Bastards in Germany as I suggested a few days ago? Look into that at your leisure time.


  7. Hney,

    I am not a historian, but I like watching historical documentaries and fond of reading political essays.
    I have a gist on Rhineland Bastards, the tirailleurs, etc.

    When the slave masters came on the shores of Africa, some of our chiefs sold their kinsmen to the slave masters.
    When the 2 world (European) wars were raging on, which did not in any way concern Africa directly, our African leaders sent our brave women and men to “liberate” a continent and a people other than theirs, yet Africa remains under the chains of economic and military colonialism.
    Educated Africans are decimated by other Africans with the sole objective of heinously presiding over the natural resources of a people to the benefit of multinationals. Some hang on to power for life, and some are brutally killed for not respecting their promises made to their colonial masters.

    The audacity to have aired a debate on a national TV of a trial vaccine in Africa whereas Africa is not the epicenter of the COVID-19, is indeed a grave crime against humanity. We were transported gonorrhea, malaria, AIDS, Ebola and now they want to forcibly bring us COVID-19. Why? What have we done?
    How many of our African leaders did you hear raise an objection to that obscene debate?
    Again, are you sure Tedros is philosophically in disagreement with this ignoble proposal? If your answer is YES, then, I would suggest we wait and see.

    However, I would like you to contemplate the following:
    Why is Donald Trump waging war of words against the WHO leadership, even to the point of threatening to curtail funding to the organization?

    I do not yet have the statistics on the race that is most affected in the USA, but I think we should stand up as a people and remain vigilant, especially in Africa. As history has always proven, the bullets to decimate us may not always come from where you expect them to come.
    Most Africans, regardless of educational, social and financial status, usually like to bow down to the suitcase full of banknotes than stand for God’s utmost creature, humanity. We need to stand up and vigorously fight ignorance and poverty in our society.

    Just my point of view, don’t kill me for my opinion!
    Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Park died, yet the blacks are enjoying the “emancipation” for which they fought at the price of their lives.
    Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela and others suffered prolonged imprisonment and brutal death, yet the children of South Africa are now deciding their destiny as a nation.
    Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and others suffered similar fate, yet the voice of a united and independent Africa still resonates with their offspring.
    You may retain Laurent GBAGBO in jail for life, his ideals and philosophy for a better and economically Africa has been documented and shall come to pass, make no mistakes.

    Stop decimating the black race, we too were created in the image and likeness of God Almighty, Creator of Heave and Earth.

    I wish you all Good Friday!

  8. I know and understand your point: Tedros does NOT support the idea.
    Let’s wait and see the smokes that comes out tomorrow!

  9. AKG, thank you so much for this. I watched the WHO press breifing on Wednesday and was so proud of Tedros’ responses to racism, death threats, vaccines testing in Africa and US accusations that he is beholding unto China. He was savvy, clear, direct, fearless. Said he doesn’t “give a damn.”
    If only more Africans in leadership positions display his commitment and confidence, we would have a united and strong African presence on the global stage.

    I am from Taiwan!!
    The “Racial Slurs” is not pop in Taiwan~
    and we feel the same feeling about that!!

    Peace! Love! No more fight about racial.

    #taiwancanhelp #taiwanishelping


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