With Love from China: The Package of Dread, By Dapo Ajibua

The rest of the world is in love with Africa. From generation to generation across myriad cultures and civilisations, the strange love to loot and plunder Mother Africa has never been restrained. We are used to this by now and sometimes, we lose the will to fight and assert ourselves.
The latest civilization to visit its passions on Africa is China. Since Marco Polo exposed the world to the unexaggerated immense proportions of this culture, we have been mesmerized by its strangeness and peculiarity. From its previous seclusion, China is gradually asserting its colossal self on the rest of the world and Africa in particular, is in her full grip.
The inroad of China into Africa in the last 2 decades has been fierce. With an understanding of the misplaced taste of the African middle-class society for western and expensive luxuries, Chinese entrepreneurs have targeted this populous group by providing cheaper alternatives to its tastes for outlandish consumables.
Whilst these alternatives provide a temporary satiation of these puerile desires, it does not in reality, create the long-lasting value of a true luxuries as known by the west.
As a result of this, we are faced with the proliferation of Chinese “fakes” products in African markets. The impact on the society and economy proves to be costly on the long run, no doubt. The consumption of products with less than acceptable quality is now the order of the day and local production of basic household items is at its lowest. That is the effect of China on Africa. We sink in the stinking pool of sub-standard products!
Despite this ignominy, China is gradually assuming controlling influence on the foreign policies and relations of African states. With generous loans that are almost impossible to pay, so many countries are gradually turning to Chinese vassal states with less independent control of their natural resources which are often hugely exploited as payment for the loans. This is the advent of re-colonisation. Typically, it is an alternative form of colonisation, different from the conventional version which Africa previously suffered under her European overlords. This is vintage Chinese strategy of copying from the masters.
Now, I fear most, this thing called Coronavirus. Its epicenter is in China which also happens to be the hub from whence radiates most of our commerce. Africa and Nigeria especially, cannot claim insulation from this virus. I project that its only a matter of time before this strange plague berths here.
Already home to a variety of physical maladies that have disappeared from the rest of the world, the addition of Coronavirus to our worries could just be an addition to the list or the last addition that finally tips the scale in favour of perdition. The latter possibility is the dreadful one.
Ebola, Lassa fever and co. have found it easy to make Africa a comfortable home and their devastation continues although less reported. The devastation of coronavirus could prove deadly in the face of Africa’s unpreparedness.
China is expanding its lockdown to other provinces previously untouched by Coronavirus. The Chinese lunar holiday has been cancelled in many provinces as the lockdown spreads. For me, this decision by the Chinese government is a cause for Nigeria here to catch a cold. Millions of people have been effectively isolated by this directive but we are still busy here with other issues.
No travel ban, no airport checks. Absolutely nothing! Do we have an emergency plan or as usual, we are looking for divine intervention? Or are we waiting for Mr. Coronavirus to visit before we start looking for a plan? France has recorded its first case and already swung into action, but we are yet to effectively combat Lassa fever. Do we have testing kits? Do we have emergency response centres? I suspect that a country like Nigeria is still busy regaling in the success of its fight against Ebola and proposing that applause as a shield to this scourge; that would be suicidal by all ramifications.
Ebola is a familiar ground for Africa. We already have an understanding of its characteristics and a previous cases to study and plan with but Coronavirus will leave us in a lurch because its new and unfamiliar. We cannot continue to live in the success of the past while diseases are daily innovating and re-branding as they challenge human will and capacity.
Big Brother China is sending this package to the world and Nigeria needs to be prepared to send it back. We already have enough woes and I speak on behalf of the rest of us that this repackaged and rebranded package is dreadful, we simply cannot receive it.

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