Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Ebola - Too Little, Too Late

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I used to ship ore out of Guinea before my accident, as such I have friends and business acquaintances in the area and I keep an eye on what is happening in the country. It has always staggered me that despite so much of our industry being based on raw materials from Africa, we do not appear to take much interest in what is happening on this continent.

The current Ebola catastrophe is a case in point, it started in December 2013 and agencies such as MSF and the WHO have been calling for action for months. It is only now that the situation is untenable that the rich countries of the world are beginning to be shamed into action.

I wrote this poem to express my anger and also raise the question; is a crisis in Africa actually too good a thing for the West to stop? Cynical maybe, but ....

Ebola Too Litle Too Late

It started with the sniffles
but soon became much worse,
when blood erupted from her eyes
and internal organs burst.

By then her kids were sniffling
on their way to school
and others in the village
where dying, blood in stool.

The doctor, a shaman,
tried to lift the curse
but the spirits were too angry
and he only made it worse.

For months the world ignored it;
Africa’s just not vogue.
The infection secured its grip
A dark satanic rogue.

The infection spread like wild fire
clinics were overcome
and even the best trained medics
eventually succumb.

Families raided hospitals
to take their loved ones home.
They didn't realise a casual touch
would see them all entombed.

When foreign medics fell sick
world interest began to rise.
Whisked back home for treatment
a few of them survive.

The risk of cross infection
makes a handshake unwise
for hid within a proffered hand
Armageddon lies.

International borders close,
curfews are applied,
travel is restricted
yet still, people die.

Farmers can’t tend crops
The market stalls are bare.
With no planting for next year
there won’t be food to share.

Soldiers join the police on streets
As looters begin to riot
Anger and resentment rise
As fear ferments disquiet.

Hands reach for machetes
infected blood flows.
Meanwhile the world dawdles
as the African death toll grows.

Oh, it will come and bite us
When it lands upon our shores
Or a lack of raw materials
puts our industry on all fours.

But default on trade agreements
or fail to pay off loans
and the rich will get still richer
on a pile of African bones.

John Carré Buchanan
15 September 2014

2 comments:

  1. A very powerful poem, JB, and frightening too, as I'm sure you intended it to be. I poem should disturb and change the way we think about things: this one did. I'll read my newspapers more diligently in future and home in on this growing crisis.
    One typo I should mention: 'boarders' should be 'borders'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard, Thank you for your comment, I am glad you found the poem frightening, as you so rightly stated I intended it to be. The rest of the world draws so much from Africa, and yet we pay so little interest in what happens there. At least until it threatens us, or people like the WHO and MSF manage to prick our consciences sufficiently for us to take action. The sad thing is more often than not our media do not find African problems sufficiently 'sexy' to report.
      As for the error, thanks for pointing it out, I have corrected it.

      Delete

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