response to the discovery of the omicron variant of the COVID-19
virus by South African scientists, the U.S. has restricted travel
southern African nations.
This punishment of an African country for identifying the variant,
rather than praising it for its contributions to medicine, science
and public health, is emblematic of a long history of colonialism on
the continent. We should be outraged, yet sadly not surprised about
the omicron variant — which could out-compete
the Delta variant
— was first identified
in South Africa,
it did not first appear there. Rather, omicron
was present in the Netherlands
a week before South Africa reported the new variant to the World
Health Association, according to a Dutch health agency.
South African government and the World Health Organization have
called on countries to lift
on southern African nations. South African President Cyril
said his country is being punished, and offered that testing
travelers rather than “imposing bans unscientifically and
indiscriminately” is how to contain a pandemic.
prohibition of travel is not informed by science,” said South
African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who added the travel restrictions
“are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country
and our southern African sister countries.”
the omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world,
putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global
solidarity,” said WHO regional director general Matshidiso
as South Africa leads the world in the scientific
war against COVID
and developing vaccines to battle the virus, it is a reflexive
response for America and other White-dominated countries to ban
African nations in the face of disease. After all, in the minds of
some, Africa and the Global South are associated with filth and
pestilence. Viruses such as AIDS and Ebola were assigned an African
referred to the “sh*thole countries” in Africa and the
Caribbean — whose people, unlike Norwegians, he believed
America does not want to come here. And he and other White
nationalists called COVID-19 the “China
Virus,” “Kung Flu” and “Wuhan Virus,”
as if to racialize the disease and blame it on the savages, the
nefarious, so-called alien races. In other words, bad diseases, bad
people, keep both out.
civilizations had mastered mathematics and science long before
Europe, and yet it is hard for some people to fathom that an African
nation would lead in pandemic research and discover a COVID variant.
These people don’t even know what
African cities look like.
While the Europeans deliberately wiped out Indigenous people with
infectious diseases such as smallpox
just as surely as if they were firing their guns, it is more
convenient to characterize more melanated folks as contaminated
with the disease
— even as people of a darker hue were raped by White people
under slavery and colonial times, and performed the White man’s
house cleaning and child rearing.
idea behind colonization is to rape and pillage a people, extract
their resources — human and natural — and offer nothing
in return but more rape, pillaging, exploitation and punishment.
colonial exploitation continues today with the inequities in the
global distribution of coronavirus vaccines, creating a COVID
is worsening the existing state of global affairs. While Africa
contributed to COVID trials, it has not benefited from the vaccines.
Further, as the so-called West has hoarded vaccine doses and fully
vaccinated 66% of its people with 146 doses per 100 people, only 2.5%
of those living in low-income nations are vaccinated, with only seven
doses per 100 people.
And in Africa, less than 10% of adults have been fully vaccinated.
And as 70% of Americans are fully vaccinated and are now rushing for
their booster shots, few Africans have received their first dose.
called omicron a wake-up call to vaccinate the world quickly, lest
COVID continues to threaten us all.
the start of the pandemic, developing countries–led by South
Africa – have pleaded for the ability to manufacture their own
vaccines for their own citizens. Fueled by racism, neocolonialism,
me-first hoarding, and plain old greed, rich countries have refused,”
Oxfam America’s Senior Manager of Private Sector Advocacy.
Silverman noted that rather than act to protect everyone, our
political leaders have protected the profits of Big Pharma. “Our
leaders’ failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone,
everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness,
death, and economic suffering,” Silverman added.
the omicron African travel ban smacks of a history of colonialism
because it is present-day Corona colonialism.
commentary was originally published by The