African Canadians not taking chances on Covid-19

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DESPITE FALSEHOODS OF AFRICAN IMMUNITY AFRICAN CANADIANS SAY THEY'RE NOT BUYING THE RUMOURS

  By Peter Uduehi

Despite social media chatter spreading the notion and unscientifically- tested premise that Black people are immune to the coronavirus, Africans in Canada are not taking chances.

Rumours swirled recently due to fewer incidences of contractions of the virus among citizens of African countries as compared to the rest of the world, leading to the notion that Black people cannot catch the disease dubbed by the World Health Organisation as Covid-19.

Worried, because he has heard the rumours, actor Idris Elba, who contracted Cocid-19, said it is “pseudo-science to think that coronavirus cannot affect Black people. No one is immune,” he said, noting that such unfounded chatter “is dangerous”. 

Toronto-resident and lawyer Peter Kalu, whose background is Nigeria, agrees. “Anyone with common sense should not fall for hoaxes surrounding Covid-19. Use your common sense, be wise. Coronavirus knows no-one of means, status, race, colour or religious affiliation; it can be contracted by anyone.”

Some Black people like myself have caught the virus, Elba says, “so let no one trick you into a false sense of invincibility”.

The World Health Organisation has said that fewer coronavirus cases in Africa is not an indication that the disease does not affect certain races of people, stating: “From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.“

Nigerian-Canadian residing in Toronto Emelike Ukpabi adds that “this is the time for everyone to be more vigilant of scammers in every sphere of life and this includes people who spread rumours that have no basis in empirical data and no basis in science. Only a fool will think a virus will spare them because of the colour of their skin”, he explains, stressing: “Black people should take precautions and not fall for this blandishment that would ruin their lives and those of their loved ones”.

Imam Abukar Mohammad of the Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque in Etobicoke, says he has warned his mostly Somali-born congregation in the GTA to take extra precaution at this time “especially in the face of these rumours concerning Black people and their immunity to the virus.

“We are not specially immune to it. There’s no reason anyone should fall for this unproven claim. There’s no science to it and it doesn't even make sense, he said. We closed the mosque to prayers and gatherings until further notice because we definitely don’t have immunity to this sickness.

Somalia has recorded only three known infected cases at press time compared to countries outside of Africa with thousands of cases. “It is not because people in Africa are immune to Covid-19. It is probably because there are no test kits readily available in a poor country like Somalia,” Muhammad said. Concurs Kalu. “The few numbers in Africa could be the result of a combination of factors including the fact that test kits are not readily available or accessible by a large majority of people in Africa,” he said.    

In a scathing indictment, Kalu opined that “most governments on the continent just do no have what it takes to readily test and identify cases”, noting that governments that cannot provide basic infrastructure for its citizens cannot be proactive in a pandemic like this. The hospitals are in a sorry state and most of the leaders do not even depend on the decrepit hospitals for their own health needs. They prefer to fly abroad for treatments and medical check-ups.  I just hope there will be a new order at the end of this pandemic”.

Africans in GTA: pandemic unveiling many life lessons

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HAS THE PANDEMIC CHALLENGED YOUR FAITH IN PEOPLE, RELIGION, CULTURES, OR INSTITUTIONS?

  

By Peter Uduehi

Ontario premiere Doug Ford has extended the province’s state of emergency by another 30 days until early May due to the novel coronavirus which produced a scare around the world in late February. 

But nobody knows when schools are to realistically reopen given the deadly nature of the Covid-19, the World Health Organisation designation for the virus.. 

For many African parents, in lockdown with their children during this time, “this has been an eye-opener for me on many levels”, notes Ghanaian-born Toronto resident Joseph Owusu. 

He said the restricted movement of persons due to the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. 

“Here in Canada, we work like crazy with little time for family. I love the fact that my children are constantly within an earshot of me these times...I’m cooking...actually doing a lot of cooking for them, doing a lot of things with them, not because I’m the stay-away-dad type, but because I do more things with them now than before and I’m enjoying these moments,” Owusu explains.

“As for my wife, it’s also been a blessing in disguise,” he stressed, adding “these relaxing times have offered us more opportunities to bond more and relate more for the benefit of our relationship.”

Joseph Bandera, Toronto-resident of Zimbabwean extraction, could not agree more.

“My wife and I are relaxing more too and taking our time to know each other better instead of the rush-rush rat race we were in before coronavirus lockdown,” he said. He added: “these days make it better to listen to each other more and I feel like this is how life should be anyway”.

In the meantime, some children (engaged now for several weeks with schoolwork at home via the internet as they respond to challenges from their teachers), are getting acquainted with distant learning. 

“One new thing I learned about my son is that he is smarter than I thought he was before Covid-19 shutdown,” says Bandera. 

“With this shutdown,” he continued, “ have e had enough time to give a critical analysis of many things around me,” noting: “usually I would do the things I needed to do around the house and in life because they were things I just needed to do, like taking my kids to school, preparing lunch for them, making sure their homework is done, etcetera...but now I am involved in the process of their education because they’re full-time at home with me. And I can see that my son is smarter that I thought.” he reiterated. “Process makes a difference and this shutdown is giving me a lot to process.”

Still, many school children, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are having an emotional rough-going because of the current pandemic, especially as “all of a sudden...you can’t go on play dates or have sleepovers...and your March break was certainly different than what you’ve hoped for. I get it from my kids as well”, he said in a special message to Canada’s kids.

“The Prime Minister is right. It’s true that things can change in life in an instant,” says Bola Idowu, a Mississauga resident. She said for a long time she has not had the time to teach her 11-year-old daughter how to cook certain Nigerian meals she likes, but that this resting period has given her the opportunity to do just that. “My daughter is like a chef now,” she said with a lot of laughter on the phone. “She’s now perfect at preparing the coveted okra soup,” Idowu adds. “There’s always a silver lining in certain rough situations,” she said.

Owusu’s silver lining, and quite the eye-opener, is that “socalled religious pastors or men of God...as they call themselves...are swindlers and crooks.

“They don't really care about your wellbeing.” Asked why the harsh criticism of certain pastors, he said it is downright offensive for a pastor to ask members of his congregation to continue to pay tithes to the coffers of the church at a time when everyone is in shutdown mode and out of work. 

“They (the pastors) develop an online process for their members to remind them of their duty to give a-tenth of their salaries to the church when most of them cannot earn a living wage at this time. 

“They (the pastors) are trying to impress upon their members the notion that those who are poor (or out of pocket due to the shutdown) should still give tithes because God, through some miraculous way, will always provide them with money. Why don’t the pastors believe the same notion that God will provide them money miraculously?” Owusu asked, stressing that the restrictions brought on by the pandemic has been very revealing of the relationship between religious leaders and their flock.

“I have changed my concept of religion. Covid-19 shutdown has given me the opportunity to know what to accept and what not to accept. I have decided that it’s important to look after oneself first rather than concentrate my energies on people who don’t really care about your wellbeing,” he said, adding: I think meditation is my new concept for higher spirituality.”

Spiritual care coordinator Rev. Augustus Oku (pictured left) and pastor of the York Memorial Presbyterian Church in North York says “it’s embarrassing to hear what fellow pastors are asking of their members at this hour of economic downturn and need.

He said members of his predominantly Nigerian congregation know not to expect any financial demands from him because this is the time churches should be giving back to their members.

“If I had a lot of money, and my church were a rich church, we would be giving a lot of money out instead of taking in money. Religion is not about money. It’s about providing hope,” he said.

“This Covid-19 lockdown has also taught me important lessons about the clergy and religion, because I am finding out that some of these so-called pastors behave like criminals. It’s wrong what some of them are doing in the name of God,” Oku, who has been a chaplain for prisons in the past, opined.

 In a scathing indictment, Kalu opined that “most governments on the continent just do no have what it takes to readily test and identify cases”, noting that governments that cannot provide basic infrastructure for its citizens cannot be proactive in a pandemic like this. The hospitals are in a sorry state and most of the leaders do not even depend on the decrepit hospitals for their own health needs. They prefer to fly abroad for treatments and medical check-ups.  I just hope there will be a new order at the end of this pandemic”.

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