http://matsutas.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/the-ebola-virus-and-the-vampire-state-by-susan-shepler/

Coming back to Sierra Leone at the end of June and traveling on to Liberia in July, I’ve seen a big change. There have been hundreds of deaths, and people are definitely taking the issue more seriously now.

The virus is primarily spread by contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, so one of the precautions advised is to not shake hands with people. But I’m finding that very hard in Sierra Leone and Liberia. We shake hands with everyone we meet. A driver told me, “I carry all kinds of people in my car. My children are playing with all kinds of children and then we all sit together at home. What can I do?” I was sitting in a crowded public transport vehicle in the Red Light neighborhood, just outside Monrovia the other day, waiting for the vehicle to fill with passengers so we could leave. A vendor came by, hawking green garden gloves, boasting that they could be used to prevent Ebola. People around me laughed.

It’s only in the last few days that I now see hand-washing stations outside government ministries and some NGOs (though not all). It seems a little futile when the same people go out to eat in the same cook shops with the same shared utensils.

Outside the Ministry of Education in Monrovia

Education about the virus and how it spreads is now seen as the main public health task. In “West Africa: Misconceptions Fuel Ebola Outbreak”A UNICEF spokesman explains, “Some people still deny that the disease is real. Others believe that it doesn’t have to be treated.” The article goes on to explain that, “Widespread misconception, resistance, denial and occasional hostility in some communities are considerably complicating the humanitarian response to contain the outbreak.” I’m reminded of what I heard in West Africa in the nineties, that AIDS stands for “American Invention to Destroy Sex.” There is a long history of lament that Africans don’t believe what we’re telling them about their own health crises, cries of we need more education! Ignorance is the biggest enemy!

On a teacher’s door in Monrovia

On the wall of a bank in Freetown

In Monrovia, I was told that there have been real impacts on the health system. People are afraid to go to the hospital and health workers are refusing to treat people. So, I was told, even a small sickness can kill you because there is no one to treat you. (See “Fighting Ebola ‘by the Grace of God’” detailing panicked health workers in Liberia abandoning their work stations.)

The coverage I’ve heard on the BBC and elsewhere focuses on how dangerous it is for people not to comply, and experts decry the ignorance of people who don’t understand that these actions are for the health of the population as a whole. Sierra Leonean firebrand, and special assistant to the President, Sylvia Blyden, makes the point that it is not only uneducated rural people who are acting this way. Even people in the more cosmopolitan capital are fighting against the public health restrictions. She recently posted on Facebook:

Esteemed members of SIERRA LEONE ISSUES, well the “gullible” people are not only in Kissi Teng, Kailahun. Tonight, credible reports are that a suspected Ebola patient has escaped from Isolation at PCMH Cottage [Hospital], Fourah Bay Rd. in Freetown with help of her friends and family. She was reportedly admitted in isolation whilst waiting for her test results from Ebola lab in Kenema. Well, to cut a long story short, she was forcibly removed from the Isolation room and then, was put onboard an okada motorbike and whisked off to her residence somewhere in Freetown. One of the nurses on duty was seriously SLAPPED for attempting to stop the escape.

Enti na Kissi Teng, Kailahun, some bin day cuss “munku” and “gullible”? [In English: Isn’t it true that in Kissi Teng, Kailahun, some people were cursing people for their lack of exposure and gullibility?]

I feel like a lot of the coverage of the Ebola crisis has been about the heroic health workers and the ignorant locals. I don’t dispute the heroism of the health workers, but I do want to dispute the ignorance of the locals. People on radio call in shows have asked: Why can’t they understand what needs to be done? Why they need to submit themselves and their loved ones to quarantine? When someone has the symptoms—fever, vomiting, diarrhea—they are supposed to report to the health center, where they will be taken away from family, and if they die, be buried by men in protective gear with no family present. You can see why people might be loath to turn over their loved ones. Really who among us would want to turn a sick loved one over to a hospital staffed with foreigners, knowing we might never see them again? And hospitals in this part of the world have notoriously poor service. Families routinely have to prepare meals and bring them to patients. Families have to go to local pharmacies to buy drugs and even gloves or needles from India or Nigeria because hospital storerooms are routinely not stocked. People’s apprehensions about the failings of the healthcare system come from experience, not from ignorance.

At least some commentators have pointed out that this crisis really reveals people’s mistrust of the state, that’s why they don’t do what they’re told. One expert on a BBC call-in program explained this was understandable in the aftermath of war. I would argue that it’s far deeper than that. It’s not just the war that caused this mistrust. The mistrust existed long before. Furthermore, the issue is more than people ignoring public health warnings from the state. People believe that the state is actually out to get them; more precisely, that “big men” are using the apparatus to of the state to enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary people, sometimes at the expense of their lives.

Some folks standing outside JFK Hospital in Monrovia told me that there is a spray, a chemical spray, that if they say you have Ebola, they spray it on you and that’s what actually kills you. They explained that the health ministry is using it so they can report more deaths from Ebola and get more money. They said the government already got $1.8 million in March so they know there is money in it.

A friend recounted a story that in one of the poor neighborhoods some group was giving vaccinations against Ebola (“But there is no vaccine,” I protest. “Doesn’t matter. People don’t know that,” he replies.) He says two babies died almost immediately after receiving the shots, and the medical team vanished afterwards, now no one knows who gave the shots. “Someone must have been poisoning the children to make it look like more Ebola deaths!” This is an unsubstantiated rumor, but the important thing is how the rumor was spread by average, even well educated, people like my friend. He said that people think it is someone in or near the government who is getting rich off of the money that is coming into the country to battle the epidemic, and wants the situation to continue to look dire. When I sounded doubtful, my friend gave further evidence. He told me that the Chief Accountant at the Ministry of Health was preparing to make a report to the donors of how all the Ebola response money given to the government had been spent so far. The evening before the presentation he was badly beaten by thugs, and they took all the paperwork away from him and nothing else. Clearly, my friend argued, someone has something to hide!

So, is this a case of ignorance? Or do these beliefs tell us something more? I think the rumors reveal something about the nature of the state here and people’s so-called contract with it. The state has acted in just such a vampiric fashion in the past, feeding off of the misery of its citizens, and likely will continue to do so. They are not responding out of ignorance, but again I would argue, out of long experience.

Susan Shepler is Associate Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution in the School of International Service at American University in Washington DC. She is currently conducting Spencer Foundation funded research in Liberia and Sierra Leone on connections between Western education, the state, and armed conflict.

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Photos from the accident scene involving El Rufai’s 23 year old son

El Rufai’s son Hamza El Rufai died this morning in a fatal accident. Here are pics from the accident scene. Hamza was driving the black Lexus car (pictured above) when he ran into a stationery blue colored Volkswagen Saloon car around the Ningi Barrack along A.Y.A – Kubwa road aroudn 5.30am this morning July 29th.

Two persons were involved in the crash but only Hamza died. According to the Federal Road Safety Corps, his corpse was taken to the national mosque by his parents while the crashed vehicles were deposited at the Maitama Police station. Continue to see more pics and GEJ’s message commiserating with El Rufai …

Hamza was a student of Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai and was billed to graduate in 2015.

PRESIDENT JONATHAN COMMISERATES WITH MALLAM EL-RUFAI ON THE LOSS OF HIS SON

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has received with a deep sense of grief and shock, news of the sudden and untimely death of Hamza El-Rufai, son of the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.

On behalf of himself, his family and the Federal Government, President Jonathan extends his heartfelt commiserations to Mallam el-Rufai and all members of the el-Rufai family.

The President says although no amount of words can fill the deep gap created by the loss of Hamza, he hopes that the outpouring of support at this moment by friends and associates will comfort Mallam El-Rufai.

President Jonathan prays for the peaceful repose of the soul of the departed and also for God’s blessing, comfort and protection for Mallam El-Rufai and the rest of his family.

Reuben Abati

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

July 29, 2014

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Airtel Unveils Internet Bundles for Android Devices

Leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, has taken yet another bold step in realization of its corporate vision of becoming the No1 mobile Internet service provider in Nigeriaas it announces the introduction of Internet Bundles for Android devices.

According to Airtel, the new value offering, which is first of its kind in the country, is consistent with its key objective of providing innovative and affordable mobile Internet solutions that will make life simpler, exciting and more enjoyable for telecoms consumers across the country. Continue…

The new Android Internet Bundle plan is specifically tailored to empower Android users to connect with business associates, family and friends and also enable them enjoy an amazing data experience on their smartphones.

The Bundle plan comes in two variants, the Android 2.0, which comes with2GBdata designed for medium Internet users while the Android Bundle 4.5 with 4.5GB data is tailored for high Internet consumers.

Speaking on the new value offering, the Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Maurice Newa, saidAirtel will continue to blaze the trail in revolutionizing the mobile Internet landscape in Nigeria with highly innovative and affordable solutions.

“At Airtel, we are positioned as Nigeria’s number one mobile Internet Company just as we are committed to making life simpler, more enjoyable and really exciting for our customers.
“We understand that our Internet bundle for Android users will help increase productivity, boost personal relations, family happiness and business profitability,” he said.

First of its kind in terms of data offerings in Nigeria, the Airtel Android packages offer customers sufficient data to browse on their Android phones at very affordable rates. With the introduction of these packages, customers using Android phones no longer have to worry about affordability and the required data needed to enjoy an amazing browsing experience on the Airtel network.

Customers are advised to dial *437# to subscribeto the 2G Android Bundle while customers who prefer to subscribeto the 4.GBAndroid Bundle are advised to either dial*438#
The 2GB and 4.5GB Bundles go for a rate of N2,000 and N3,500, respectively and are both valid for 30 days.Both Bundles have different burn rates, allowing customers to enjoy the service at a more affordable rate during the night. For more information, please visit http://www.ng.airtel.com

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Kim K lashes out at Adrienne Bailon for saying association with her family ruined her career

In an interview with Latina magazine, singer, reality star & Rob Kardashian’s ex-girlfriend Adrienne Bailon said one of the things that affected her career was appearing on the Kardashian reality show.
“To be stuck with that Kardashian label, that was so hurtful to me and to my career. I probably realized that too late – not that it would’ve affected my decisions in terms of who I dated, but it would’ve affected my decision to appear on the show.” she said
Talking about Rob, who was her first love, Adrienne said people still give a hard time for hurting him
‘It’s common knowledge that he cheated on me. It always bothered me that people were like, “Pero, why couldn’t you forgive him?” Why are women always the ones who have to forgive? If you cheated on a man, he would be like, “You’re disgusting, and I want nothing to do with you.” But women, we’re supposed to be like, “He messed up. He made a mistake.”. In my situation, it wasn’t like, “Oh my God! I made a mistake!”’ she admitted. ‘He strategically planned things out so that he could cheat on me, and that to me was so disloyal.’
Immediately the interview was made available online, Kim K took to twitter to slam her…continue..

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