- Since the debacle of the early days of the pandemic, when dozens of travelling officials and their families slipped through the safety net of a 2 weeks quarantine that could have prevented the coronavirus disaster unfolding in Côte d'Ivoire, it now seems, we are heading for a total lockdown of the country.
Beside a Presidential address declaring a state of emergency thus, closing borders, installing a curfew and virtually shutting down the economy, a promise of billions from state coffers without any measures benefitting the majority poor population, all there is to watch on state television RTI is hours of footage of donations, either to the government "efforts", politicians and their cronies offering kits, sanitation equipment and distributing goods to targeted areas, which selection criteria are unbeknown to the average Ivorian.
There is not a concrete plan for the majority of poor populations in this part of the world. No experts available to explain in minute scientific details what this disease is about or no daily press briefings with journalists willing to ask as many questions to inform those millions of incredulous Ivorians.
Oblivious to the imminent danger of herd infection, hundreds congregated Sunday night in the populous neighbourhood of Yopougon to tear down a makeshift "Test centre", believing for some, rumours of a hospital for coronavirus patients being built or, for others, a vaccine trial facility, as discussed by two French scientists on a live television broadcast late last week.
Before long, the uprising reached Koumassi then, Wednesday in the village of Anono near Cocody, crowds were in a standoff with the police for the same reasons.
The lack of transparency and the failure of the leadership to bring solace to millions, is the cause of mistrust in authorities, in addition to fake news spread on social media, or "cyber activists" and "influencers" adamantly urging families and friends not to be turned into guinea pigs.
With curfews and regulations leading to many businesses shutting down without government subsidies, it is no wonder people feel restless.
Social distancing and self-isolation against Covid-19 fit Western society. It is working for some countries, not all yet.
The Chinese didn’t use social distancing and self-isolation.They quarantined their people by force because that is what could work for them.
China was also building and putting to use new hospitals every 6 days, to help get ahead of the virus, because many Chinese didn't have access to healthcare and they understood what needed to be done. Their response was completely Chinese and not African nor European. They knew what China needed to move China fast out of the crisis and that’s what they did.
Europeans looked at their society and came up with social distancing and self-isolation because they understood that approach. Europeans don't have communities that are without running water.
They don’t have communities without Hospitals. Europeans don't live in "face-me-I-face-you" houses or shacks.
Their homeless are now in government shelters. Social distancing and self-isolation are completely European. A Eurocentric response to COVID-19. Not a Chinese response.
Europe doesn't have slums such as Yahossehi - Zimbabwe - "mon mari m'a laissé"- Gesco or sprawling poor neighbourhoods such as Abobo , Yopougon or Adjouffou with clogged gutters and scarce toilets.
In the Ivory Coast, we buy and sell water and everything else for a living. Some people cannot even afford three meals a day, although they hustle 24/7.
Europeans set lockdowns in motion with all types of funds to sustain the Isolation period.
Here, maquis, bars and all markets are now shut, but how many Ivorians can survive 2 weeks without their daily bustles out there to have a meal on the table? forcing them to self-isolate is only asking them to choose between death by COVID-19 or death by hunger.
The Coronavirus crisis has demonstrated 60 years after independence that our society lacks the basic in a standard of living. Let's just hope to come out of this pandemic with the right policies for a true emerging country, not eager to sugarcoat statistics to please international partners to the detriment of our sons and daughters.
Claude B. Djaquis-Editor-In-Chief
Meyan Nangy-Assistant Editor