Hey there and welcome to H.O.N Weekly (I hope you know by now that H.O.N stands for House of Nzinga, if not, what kind of friend are you?! serious eyes rolls, lol). It’s a feature, that I plan to bring to you weekly, where I share with you my commentary on the top stories of the week, in lifestyle, pop culture and current affairs or the latest buzz or trends on social media. I will also talk about not to be missed important events and things to look out for during the week.
To kick off this series, I wanted to tackle a subject still trending worldwide: the COVID-19 pandemic naturally, and to look at some African countries’ response.
- South Africa’s response to the crisis
In South Africa, we just reached the “50 days into under lock-down” milestone. The government has divided the lock-down into phases and, since May 1st, we were downgraded from phase 5 ( the highest level alert) to phase 4. Most of the general public are however still confined at home, with just few more essential workers and business activities being able to operate such as : Uber, Uber Eats and delivery services at restaurants. South Africa has among the highest numbers on the continent and understandably one of the strictest lock-downs. It is interesting to watch how the lock-down situation is igniting robust discussions on social classes and races divide, privileges, etc. in post-apartheid South Africa.
- Why is Africa still not ravaged by the pandemic ?
Many western health experts are wondering why Africa is not as badly affected as it was predicted. These interrogations go from genuine medical questions to some more condescending, rooted in Afro-pessimism (even racists) affirmations. It feels as if the world is waiting, sadly, on the pandemic to ravage the ‘dark continent’, natural habitat to deaths, famine and diseases. In the world of Senegalese scholar Felwine Sarr, “Europeans are worried about us, but we’re worried about them.”
Some experts have started to give some tentative explanations to this like the low median age in Africa, which is only 19, in contrast to the aging population in Europe and elsewhere. Also, Africa is still relatively less connected (in term of international traffic) than the rest of the world and has probably been shielded from the pandemic longer than other countries.
- It is time to value Africa’s expertise?
One major thing that seems to be underestimated in media reports, is that most Africans government, have been proactive and implemented early measures to control the pandemic, despite the many local difficulties encountered.
For instance, South African management of the pandemic has been praised by the WHO (early and strict lock-down measures and nation-wide scale testings). Furthermore, Senegal has been developing rapid and cheap tests kits (1 dollar testing kit used to test Dengue fever) and engineers are developing locally manufactured ventilators. All this combined has afforded the West-African country one of the lowest mortality rate combined with some of the highest recoveries rate worldwide.
Above all this, Africa’s health practitioners have a wealth of experience in dealing with life threatening epidemics and large-scale public health issues such as HIV (South Africa) malaria (most of sub-Saharan countries) and recently Ebola (DRC & West-Africa). It’s easier for them to replicate some treatments and protocols put in places for these diseases to the COVID-19 recent pandemic.
Although we still at the beginning of the pandemic, and it is way too soon to declare victory and relax, (we should absolutely not), let’s hope that the pandemic evolution in Africa continues to defy these somber predictions.
Finally, it is time for the world to listen to Africa’s contribution and expertise in global public health, medical and pharmaceutical research.
Watch+ Read + Listen
Although there is not much life happening right now in the big outside world, artists and content creators are carrying us all through this weird time. From social media challenges like the #DontRushChallenge, which show the multi-faceted beauty of black women (quickly emulated and declined into men, babies, doctors, lawyers, bearded men versions), to Tik Tok viral dance challenges and finally to the epic Versuz Instagram battles..I must say, black content creators are literally giving me life! I’m sure you’ve watched or heard of the epic Babyface/TeddyRiley battle, followed up by the soul-soothing, battle of nu-soul divas, Jill Scott/Erikah Badu last week. Be sure to catch the next one, rappers Ludacris Vs Nelly, tonight.
Don’t miss on Netflix’s Made In Africa content
To celebrate Africa Day on 25 May and following its announcement of curating more African content, Netflix has launched “Made In Africa” and made available a collection of African titles on the platform. Be sure to catch Atlantics (Senegal), The boy who harnessed the wind (Malawi), Chief Daddy (Nigeria), Queen Sono, and many more documentaries and series. See the promotion below for more available titles.
Important dates and things to look out for :
To celebrate Africa Day, on 25 May, and to continue to raise awareness around the Covid19 pandemic effect on the continent, several initiatives will take place from this week-end and beyond.
- 16 May : Africa at home, an evening with artists and international African celebrities such as Congolese rumba artists Fally Ipupa and Ivoirian group Magic system, hosted on the FrenchTV channel Canal Plus.
- 25 May : #IAMWAN/ #JeSuisWAN : another pan-African initiative with the participation of superstars like Youssou N’dour (Senegal), Oumou Sangare (Mali) , Wizkid (Nigerian) and Kassav (French Caribbean) to name a few. For more info, check here.
What have you been up to this week?
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