No-one who watches closely, the way Africa is treated in the international arena by both foreign governments and the media of their countries, can fail to sigh in disbelief and wail: “When, on when, will this constant spraying of my continent with negative-coloured paint end”?
The latest “spraying” is with regard to the “variant” of Covid-19 that has emerged in the world. As soon as the hard-working scientists of South Africa detected the variant in their country and dutifully informed the World Health Organisation about it, South Africa and its neighbours – among them, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho – were singled out for full “no-go, no-come” treatment by the United Kingdom and other European countries.
This has annoyed many Africans, who compare this treatment of the African countries with how China was treated by the same group when Covid-19 first made its appearance in the world. Circumstantial evidence clearly pointed a finger at China as the most likely carrier/spreader of the disease. But the World Health Organisation was careful in sending a delegation to China to make on-the-spot enquiries before pronouncing on China’s alleged culpability. Even then, the WHO statement of its findings was worded with great tact that almost amounted to exculpation of China.
But alas, an African country announces – voluntarily – that it has detected a new variant and hey presto – flights to and from its neighbourhood are banned!
This has been rightly denounced by some Africans, including the former Health Minister of Botswana, Dr. Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.
But to the amazement of Pan-Africanists, the former Minister did not merely condemn the imposition of travel restrictions on his country and its neighbours, but went on to wonder why some other African countries had been spared the travel ban. Not only that – he went on to make serious allegations against Ghana in particular!
He wrote (in a piece to Facebook that sustains the belief in some countries that the social news platform does not do enough to vet “hate speech”:
QUOTE: Why are we not telling the world that this variant was detected in 4 diplomats of Ghanaian origin? Why are we not telling the world to not only target us, but target Ghana and other western African countries?” UNQUOTE
The Ministry of Health in Ghana has denied that any such detection of the new variant has taken place in Ghana. But what is amazing is the fact that a former Minister of Health in a friendly African country, should harbour such ill-feelings towards other African countries.
The statement is spurious. What, for instance, is the meaning of “diplomats of Ghanaian origin”? Are they current Ghanaian diplomats? Or diplomats of Ghanaian birth who are now working for the UNO, WHO, or ILO? If so, what is the relevance of their being associated with Ghana (in the statement of the former Botswana Minister)?
Furthermore, Ghana, as far as I can surmise, does not have a separate embassy in Botswana but services a consular or other diplomatic mission in Maseru from its embassy in Pretoria. So, even if the diplomats were Ghanaian diplomats (as opposed to diplomats of Ghanaian origin) their Covid-19 variant status (if it exists at all) has very little to do with Ghana and great deal to do with South Africa.
For Botswana is an enclave of South Africa and few people can enter it without crossing South Africa at some point. These factors, which a former Botswana Health Minister of all people should be aware of, make it clear that the Minister made a false statement, resulting (unfortunately) from the “self-hatred” which some Africans harbour towards other Africans, without realising that it was initially encouraged in them by people who are not Africans.
Anyway, the Ghana Ministry of Health has wasted no time in denying that the Covid-19 variant, OMICRON, has been found in Ghana.
Of course, the former Minister of Health of Botswana does not speak for the Botswana Government. But it would be a wise thing for the Government of Ghana to send a note to the Botswana Government demanding that
it asks the former Minister to substantiate his allegation or retract it.
THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON CONFERS ITS HIGHEST HONOURS ON GHANA’S MARY CHINERY-HESSE
The University of London has conferred what is described as its “highest honours awarded to exceptional individuals”, on the Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse. The citation to the honour says that the award “is in recognition of her substantial contributions to public life and the University.”
The honorary degree was presented to Mrs Chinery-Hesse on London University’s Convocation Day, 23 November 2021, by the Chancellor of London University, Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, The Princess Royal. The ceremony, which took place in the University’s Senate House, marked the 185th anniversary of the creation of the University of London by Royal Charter on 28th November 1836.
Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse has had distinguished careers in Ghana’s Civil Service and at the United Nations. The citation said she is “an important voice on economic development issues, a defender of human and women’s rights, and an advocate for African imperatives”
She is the first female Chancellor of the University of Ghana; she was the first African woman to be appointed Resident Coordinator of the UN System; the first female Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization; and the first African woman to attain the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
In a short speech, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse thanked the authorities of the University of London for honouring herself and three other persons. She added:
QUOTE: O Happy Day! I feel so genuinely happy.
We join a group of distinguished personalities who have been similarly honoured by this great University in the past; esteemed company which should make us feel extremely favoured.
“I refer, for example, to a name like President Nelson Mandela, whom we in Africa consider as such a giant in the affairs of men. I feel a sense of deep humility that my name would appear on a list where he is also mentioned.
“I personally owe so much to the University of London. My father, the late Justice R. S. Blay, one of the Founding Fathers of my Country Ghana, who encouraged his daughters to reach for the skies in spite of the negative gender environment of the time, graduated from the walls of this ver-y University nearly a Century ago. He must be dancing for joy in Heaven in celebration of this great honour bestowed on his daughter this historic day.
There is more. The University College of Ghana from where I took my first degree in 1962, was an affiliate of the University of London in my time. Because it was affiliated to the University of London, it awarded this University’s degrees for 13 years until the College attained full University status, and began to award its own degrees. In that sense, I am a bona fide Alumna of this Great Institution. I feel a great sense of pride. UNQUOTE