Racism rears its ugly head in knee-jerk reaction to Omicron
Instead of helping ‘wretched’ Africa, the world has shut it out, something it hasn’t done to rich countries
If you had any lingering doubts about the unbroken link between racism and disease, then events of the past week should have opened your eyes. No sooner had South African scientists announced the discovery of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant on November 24, but the West reacted with a fierceness that would have embarrassed its colonial progenitors, from Rudyard Kipling (The White Man’s Burden) and Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness) to the streams of imperial missionaries and scientists sent to save and civilise the Dark Continent.
Instantly, flights from SA to the UK and, soon after, the US, were banned. This despite the variant also being found in Belgium and Hong Kong, and that little was known at the time about “the South African variant”, as some idiots on overseas television parroted their politicians. “South African countries”, said another geographic illiterate on NBC news in reference to the shutting off and shutting out of countries in the region. In a BBC clip that went viral, an angry Dr Ayoade Alakija, the co-chair of the AU’s Vaccine Delivery Alliance, put her expert finger on the problem: “The travel bans are based in politics and not in science ... nobody is locking away Belgium, nobody is locking Israel, why are we locking away Africa when the virus is already on three continents?” Good question; here’s the answer...