GUEST BLOG: What if Covid-19 started in Africa? -Dr. Hamza Asumah Writes

The lessons of the coronavirus pandemic have been described from the medical standpoint to the social, economic, and political spaces. This, therefore, means that we, as a people, have conceded that if any of these arms are weak, then the established unforgiving character of the COVID-19 will be in full gear and we all know what that means.

The undebatable solution for these determining factors of future impacts of such pandemics is however deeply rooted in LEADERSHIP. 

Without doubt, countries with great leaders (not authorities), have proven that all challenges,  regardless of how mysterious and poorly understood they are, good leadership always has a miraculous way of figuring out the solution. 

The impact of a pandemic depends on;

1. Severity

2. Most importantly the political and socio-cultural reaction

The impact, unfortunately, is not as hinged so much on the severity as it is on the political and socio-cultural reaction. In effect, how we react as a nation to this will inform the overall impact it will have on us.

Pandemics are usually a stress test. It reveals which social, economic and political structures are adaptable and the ones that are brittle.

Leadership unfortunately for most African Countries leaves so much to desire. Sometimes it is almost impossible not to fall for a certain conspiracy ideology that leaders in most African countries read and understood leadership differently- undefined authority, questionable motives for taking up such positions and a desire to get rich at all cost. It is almost like getting quick money is an integral part of the leadership positions people take up in government.

But let this discussion not be limited to only our leaders in public positions but also to us the citizenry. Reports of outrageous costs for essential goods and services have clearly revealed that we are essentially the same as the leaders we vote into power, we just haven’t had a bigger stage to amplify our greed and wickedness. We, the youth, complain bitterly about not being given a chance to serve but when given the opportunity,  we forget that there is an established system out there that will most likely swallow us into the dark abyss of greed and selfishness.

Leadership is not about age, position or rank, leadership is about looking out for the welfare of the people around you. So before we start asking for a seat in those high places, we need to practice servant leadership right from where we are. In other words, start be leaving the washroom in a better state for the next person that will use it. That is how simple leadership can be.

So the question that really needs to be carefully answered is: What if Covid 19 started in Africa? Will it have caused so much havoc in the Western world? Will the leadership of some of these nations allow it to claim so many lives, after getting so much time to prepare?

These are question everyone may have an answer to but the import of all those answers will be clear on one word; NO

Our political and its consequent economic framework has unfortunately been so compromised over centuries, so much so that, the leadership have lost focus on what is important and what is not.

What is not important interestingly has become the new normal for what is right. It is only in good leadership can we identify the enormous resources that are available to us and use them efficiently. This can be likened to having a Hospital building without trained human resource and logistics to run the facility or a church building without a good pastor and congregation. The overall impact will still be zero.

It is time as a continent we renew our mindset from what leadership truly stands for. Leadership is about people not positions.  Leadership is about safety, leadership is about sacrifice. Leadership is about “looking out for the person to your left and the person to your right”.

I dare argue that the lessons of this pandemic will be forgotten before the next election and our leadership will just reset back to what we were and believed in.

In the meantime, we can only hope that the scars in our hearts and minds from what we have lost will constantly remind us to take a second look at how we define and choose our leaders and by so doing we can at least shoot for that self-reliant Africa we so eloquently preach to the world. We are living in a pool of enormous resources but we are still ‘hungry’.

Dr. Hamza Asumah is a Surgeon and Medical Director of Abenkyiman Hospital (a private hospital) in the Bekwai municipality and the founder and managing director of Halo Medical Services, a medical consultancy firm since October 2012. He plays the oversight duty of ensuring the daily clinical and administrative management of these companies.

Source: Dr Hamza Asumah

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