Like the Rebel war – like the Ebola war

Reflections of an eyewitness

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 December 2014

rebels enter freetown“Operation Octopus”, “Operation Barras”, “Operation Final Push”. These were some of the code names for specific military assaults against the Revolutionary United Front during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

Not to be undone in ‘operational expressions’, the rebels also declared their own operations. We will not forget that infamous macabre “Operation No living Thing.”

Over a decade after that civil war, we are witnessing the deployment of special operations for a different kind of war: the professed war against the invisible, but arguably a more lethal enemy – the Ebola Virus Disease.

In September, the government of Sierra Leone declared “Operation Ose to Ose Ebola Talk”. And on 17th December, 2014, President Koroma declared another operation – “Operation Western Area Surge”.

I have the feeling that like the rebels, this enemy has also declared its own operation – “Operation Upset Everyone”.

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What shall we say to the coming generations?

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 December 2014

salone poverty1James Garfield once said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable”.

My belief is that Sierra Leone is gradually approaching the other side of midnight, when the farce and tomfooleries that have been our diet, under the façade that we have a divine right – at the behest of our leaders, for our tomorrow to be alright, must completely fade away, so that we can create a future that will not continue to impoverish and emasculate us.

Sincerely speaking, I don’t know about you reading this, but for me, after five decades of freedom and with the abundant comparative human and natural resources available to us, what I find excruciatingly painful is that we continue to sing the same old song.

The generality of our people teeter along without any real sense of purpose. And the nation itself, lacks a coherent vision in a world where some other smaller countries, such as Rwanda, Burundi, etc., have taken flight into the higher realm of human development.

What is most painful, is that day-in day-out in our bullet-ridden nation, which seems to be clinging on to dear life, we see the negative outcomes of the enduring problems of corruption and violence, of gut-wrenching poverty and grotesque political incompetence, as well as the mess that is Sierra Leone.

And yet, we still keep a straight face and pretend we can’t grasp what is happening.

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Sierra Leoneans in despair as Doctor Willoughby succumbs to Ebola

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 December 2014

Dr Victor WilloughbySierra Leone’s top physician – Dr. Victor R. Willoughby, this morning succumbed to the deadly Ebola virus, just four days after he was officially pronounced Ebola positive by the country’s chief medical officer – Dr. Brima Kargbo. (Photo of Dr. Willoughby, taken just days before he was confirmed Ebola positive).

Medical sources say Dr. Willoughby’s condition drastically deteriorated last night, after serious multiple organ failure, which left him in deep coma.

Today, Sierra Leone has been plunged into darkness, with the preventable loss of another doctor. How much more can the people of Sierra Leone endure.

The remains of the diseased doctor will be laid to rest at the Ascension Town Cemetery in Freetown later today, by the Ebola burial team.

Dr. Willoughby is the 11th Sierra Leonean doctor to have so far succumbed to the deadly Ebola virus, just as preparations are being made for the trialing of the convalescence serum therapy – a treatment for Ebola, he personally championed. Ebola’s cruelty.

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Christmas cancelled in Sierra Leone as the Ebola crisis worsens

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 December 2014

president santaAfter much speculation as to whether there will be a national Ebola lockdown this Christmas, and uncertainty as to the extent of such an action, latest report from Freetown says that President Koroma has this morning announced a military style – house to house search for Ebola victims starting from today.

This response comes, after serious criticisms for failing to back calls by the mayor of the capital Freetown to take tougher measures, aimed at curbing Ebola in the capital.

President Koroma is now reported to have acceded to proposals for change in market and street trading pattern, which many believe is a major source of Ebola transmission in the country.

The president has announced banning of all Sunday trading throughout the country, and has restricted Saturday shopping to morning hours only.

Koroma also announced that travelling between districts will be curtailed, as a measure to curb the rampant transmission of the virus between districts.

And for the first time in the country’s hundreds of year’s history, the president said that New Year’s Eve church services are to end before 5 pm, and that all New Year’s Day festivities, including church services are prohibited.

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Will Dr. Victor Willoughby receive Convalescent Serum Therapy

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 December 2014

Dr Victor WilloughbyTonight, as rumours of the death of Sierra Leone’s most popular and highly respected surgeon – Dr. Victor Willoughby makes the round across the world-wide web, news of the arrival of the much needed Convalescent Serum Therapy (CST) equipment was being overshadowed. (Photo: Dr. Willoughby. Courtesy of Awareness Times).

Ironically, it is through the efforts of Dr. Victor Willoughby and many others involved with the development of this untested, though promising CST project in Sierra Leone, that has led to today’s good news.

And it is understood that Dr. Victor Willoughby himself – now very ill with the Ebola virus at a state of the art treatment centre in Goderich, Freetown, may become one of the first – if not the first patient to undergo the CST trial in Sierra Leone.

But sources say that Dr. Willoughby is critically ill and that time is of the essence, if he is to benefit from the possible success of the CST trials.

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Ebola – our opportunity to face our realities squarely and collectively

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 December 2014

palo conteh and president koromaBenjamin Franklin s’ famous “Two wolves and a small lamb voting on what to have for dinner”, aptly describes the realities of our convulsing, blood-soaked Sierra Leone today.

Between Ebola and razzmatazz governance, stand the distressed masses.

With our leaders obviously otiose, we cannot take it for granted anymore that the future prosperity of our nation is guaranteed. However, remembering our socio-political past can bring the much-needed honesty.

But just as we – our leaders in particular, can take inspiration from the high points of our history, so also should we be humble enough to take perspective from the low-points, including the events of the immediate few years.

Sierra Leone is where it is today, simply because for so long, we’ve always had a problem with political conversations that we believe can’t, or should not have for the sake of the sensibilities of particular individuals or ethnic groups, while the allure of sentiments over substance was gradually being raised to an art, in our see-no-evil-speak-no-evil studio.

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