By Chinedum Ukandu
COVID-19, novel coronavirus, Coro-Coro, “another flu”; regardless of what you are calling this new strain of the virus that is sweeping the globe, it has already made its impact- and its only the beginning. Over the past few weeks, I (like everyone else) have been watching both small and large scale reactions from the world around us. Countries and their citizens and leaders are all reacting to a unique war, a war against the unseen. Many are reacting in ways that may or are may not be effective.
China, for instance, has changed its tune on the way they view foreigners. Since the Wuhan outbreak, news has surfaced showcasing how the Chinese government has developed a narrative that has shifted the blame from China to the US military. As a result, what once was a more welcoming and accepting tone of foreigners has now turned into xenophobia. Africans, Caucasians and anyone with US ties who are currently residing in China are receiving an immense amount of prejudice, discrimination, and hatred. This parallels the US climate as many people are pointing to any Asian person on the street as a scapegoat. In many places nationwide, US citizens are abandoning Asian restaurants, whether they are Chinese-owned or not.
Regardless if there are ways to rationalize this behavior, both situations are telling. They reveal how humans, when we are stressed and anxious, resort to the primitive behavior of “sticking to our kind”. What was developed from a process of growth, multiculturalism, and diplomacy has receded into an increase in prejudice and blame-shifting. Often, but not always, the African diaspora in the world of globalization has dealt with prejudice and discrimination in Western and Asian countries, however, we are now seeing that widen to other groups.
Yes, though there are negative reactions to COVID-19, there are also positive reactions. Countries across the globe are stepping up to put their citizens first. African countries like Nigeria, South African, Uganda, Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Ghana have closed their borders or placed some restrictions on flights. West African countries like Nigeria are more equipped now to fight the coronavirus due to an increase in the public health in-fracture gained from their Ebola defenses. See, even the infamous “shit-hole” countries are rising to the occasion.
It has been predicted that this period is not even the peak of this outbreak and we are already seeing its effects on human sociology and psychology.
As the world continues to react to this virus, we will continue to see what we truly value.