Special Feature

Discord in Ebola…not the right sign or sound

Legendary musician and folklore hero of the Bassa people, “country people” music ambassador Sundaygar Dearboy was hit hardest when Ebola sent the wrong cord to his heart over the week end. It took the life of his sweet heart and wife to be on Saturday August 30. She was an expecting mother in her 5th month of pregnancy.   He has been away in a recording studio doing what he knows best:

Sundaygar Dearboy has for the last two months spent time in Ghana working on his latest album.  Ironically, last week he completed a song on Ebola and sent an mp3 version for me to listen. As if he knew he would sing his heart out to say good bye and perhaps dedicate or redo this song for her in memoriam. He called and said it was a suspected case and no hiding

Names and other forms of identification details will be omitted so as to minimize the focus on the family and concentrate on the substantive issue in the fight against Ebola.  The article seeks to bring to the fore some troubling accounts which still show that we have some ways to go as we battle in the fight against Ebola..

Everyday when stories of plausible causes of deaths are provided, by the general public or bereaved families, it seems to me that the popular myth is gaining traction that “there is no Ebola.” Some people still think perhaps but they have not seen the face of Ebola. Which face?

Amidst all of this calamity and the literal collapse of nearly all the major hospitals throughout the country, what explains the need from highly educated, semi educated to the uneducated,  to rationalize a death as not due to Ebola.  Would people still be in denial? Is it for fear of stigma, is it fear to lose ones job or place in community? Or is it a post war phenomenon of plain outright dishonest neo-culture? And to what end and for what purpose.

Could these general explanations of plausible cause of death, rationalizing death be due to early newspapers account of horrid photographs of Dracula like, blood drenched faces, smallpox or other dermatology related rashes blown out in most of the local tabloids be the “face” people are out looking for acknowledge Ebola?

Prior to the death on Saturday of Sundaygar’s  Fiancee, a sudden death had also occurred in this family within the last week . The mother of Sundaygar’s fiancé had fallen sick. Her children had helped care for their mother. When she passed the family and friends said it was not Ebola.  That she was diabetic and had gone into a diabetic coma chewed on her tongue spat blood and had died as a result of high sugar, it was reportedly stated by family members and no mention of a doctors opinion is traced in the story line. 

As a rite of passage for people in this tribe and for her status as community leader and mother, she was taken to a funeral home reportedly in a community nearest where the death occurred and the body has reportedly been embalmed for burial at a date to be announced when her daughter died suddenly. Is it Ebola? “No.” Yet again we are told this is high fever and malaria

This diagnosis is not from a medical doctor but from a Rev Mother where the Fiancée had gone for prayers.  She was said to have come out well after malaria treatment but then a high fever which could not break became so high, she began to chew on her tongue and produced blood and death was sudden but after some excruciating pains.

She lay sick in bed the night before with her daughter besides her and her niece. In the house was also Sundaygar’s other son a lad of about 10years.  Could it be Ebola, “No” Maybe” maybe high malaria or just maybe Ebola

What a way to bring home the sound of a very sad song to show just how easily the Ebola can spread and will spread to reach what sounded like an exaggerated projection of 20, 000 (twenty thousand)  infected  due to the Ebola virus.  That it will get worse before it gets better, said the Dr Frieden of the Center for Disease Control. (Atlanta-USA) as was reported in most of the local dailies at departure Press Briefings.

A sad prognosis that encapsulates all of what he was able to see hear and assess in regards to our general disposition toward the control and prevention of one of the world’s deadliest virus.

In my own short life of more than half a century walking the face of the earth  mostly in West Africa,  as a student of journalism then, another deadly virus – Anthrax  hit Ghana and in particular Northern Ghana.  That the virus is said to have a life span of 28 long years before it can die is still a part of the things settled in the recess of my mind.  It took one big fat cow that dropped dead as a result of the anthrax virus and wiped out a whole  a village who ate of that Cow’s meat, to send  the message home to the entire populace.

The question then is, if Ebola is as deadly and devastating how can we make tracking toward containment a truthful endeavor to curb the spread?

Sundaygar’s mother in law’s death as describe by family members that she died of diabetes and so body is taken to funeral home just lay bare the problem.

if this disease is to be tracked and contained we must speak facts. We must help the team from the Ministry of Health with facts.  A possible review of the chain of infection.  In the next 2 to 21 days the family prays rather than the Angel of death, but  Angel Gabriel or Moses to ensure no new cases of suspected Ebola signs and symptoms  are seen.  As community and friends we must find means of solace and comfort for the several bereaved families.

Where did she get in contact with an infected person? When and how

How many children she had..who visited, cared and comforted her by touching.

If she was active in the Clara Town, Duala, New Kru Town Caldwell belt, was she an active member of the community. How many community members visited her while she was sick,  was she a church motherOr a member of a prayer band. How many people in the prayer band visited, prayed with her and touched her?

Now that she has expired and has been deposited at a funeral home, how many persons have gone by the house to sympathize?

if she is from one of the Kwa speaking people, the  “mat” is already down, in the house or in the room or near the room of the diseased deceased person.

The trail to track and own up to make observation, isolation and containment is a long one but a possible one if only we would own up and speak up and speak the truth. I did. I touched her.  when and how…

Now that she is a potential suspect of this deadly virus, we see that the basic and general directives to funeral home is not being followed or implemented to the later if it is true that the body was taken to a funeral parlor in or around the Caldwell, Point Four, New Kru Town area.

Taking supposition to another level, or as the legal maxim puts it, assuming without admitting was the dead body accompanied to the funeral home  with the requisite certificate of death and clearance for burial as is expected a procedure to follow during this period of emergency, or is there no such clearly laid down and spelt out procedure?

By the way which and which structure (s) in the local governance structure is responsible? The City Hall and Office of the Mayor, the municipalities and inspectorate divisions of sanitation?  Are they functioning and reporting on this critical terminal and important point in the vicious Ebola tracking system?

Should we take it for granted that the funeral parlor was shown the papers, were they signed by a registered/ licensed physician or medical doctor? Or is the small “world trade center” on Gurley Street at work, where every imaginable fake paper can be made to look real? We hope we are not in nit to take it, fake it till you make it…

We hope we have a standard death certificate which will pass muster if called for.  Do we have sanitary inspectors who could possibly monitor the records of the number of death and in takes at the various funeral homes? We hope the Ebola burial team records (which is temporarily being collected) will at some point converge and be made a part of the local records and will form a cogent part of the office of statistical records.  This will show government at work and looking to outsource those vital pillars at the lowest level of the governance structure.   The community in urban or rural areas are still the start and the end.

No one outside of Liberia would believe that in spite of all the world’s attention for good or bad reasons, that yet still “hardly anyone dies of Ebola inside Liberia.”

We hope that with the deaths in the family of this local folklore and musical hero will bring home the sad note in these songs of life as a wakeup call to allow us as a community and a people to stand up with the facts and state the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth, if we must fight and kick Ebola out of control.  To date there is no known cure except we open up ourselves as the laboratory for testing of potential vaccines.

Medina A. Wesseh
Attorney At Law
International Law Group, LLC

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