Zero is the New Distinction for Sierra Leone to be Free from the Ebola Virus

Titus Boye-Thompson, Strategic Media & Development Communications Unit

No one has worked this hard, tried this hard and hoped so much to fail by scoring zero. This new truism only too well befits the people of Sierra Leone as they work assiduously to reach zero for 42 days to mark or otherwise signal the international declaration that Sierra Leone is free from Ebola.

One good thing is that the attention to rid the country of the virus has united us all in disparity. Disparity of disengagement now seduces a nation to live separate lives, deluded that such inexistence of closeness would replace the warmth that togetherness in life assures but how many do suffer in silence. The putrid stench of death is everywhere as communities count the dead not

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so much for their departure but for the ignorance of their final resting place and the gruesomeness of their final implanting. The dead sprayed with chlorine and other chemicals imposes a new death upon their cadavers. The whiteness of the powdery mixture and the effervescence of the liquidized sanitizer reminds you of a chalked existence, marked down by whitewash as if everything can be made clean again. The ghosts of the Ebola dead would definitely look different and their spirits would forever be accompanied by the stench of chlorine, whiter than white and aptly used for the cleansing of water itself.

When President Ernest Bai Koroma himself took on a door to door, village to village, district to district, tour to apprise traditional and religious leaders and other members of our local communities about safe practices and to warn from unsafe traditions and cultural prerequisites, the seriousness of this fight to rid the country of this deadly virus became ever more stark. The President in his inimitable way, has left no stone unturned in managing the situation to the point of engaging on a national drive to change hearts and minds. Just like a political campaign, Ernest Bai Koroma had to visit every part of this country to empathize with the people and to issue threats, and encouragement, the proverbial carrot and stick approach just so that the people take this seriously. The scourge had taken too many lives, and too many good men and women have fallen, trying to save others and to serve their country. The scourge of Ebola has changed the landscape and affected all spheres of life in this country. The no shake hands message has gone down better than most and as was remarked recently, even the offer of a handshake is now deemed an act of violence. Religion is not the same even though the sacred remain sacrosanct. The act of closeness usually found in religious gatherings is now suspect and the ways of dealing with the dead even more eroded. Safe practice means no touching or washing of dead bodies. A practice that some find so hard to forgo, as some are often known to wash the dead and make them up before calling in the burial teams. Sierra Lone will never be the same. The time for healing will come but for now, the distinction is zero. President Koroma is playing a key role in this seemingly abject failure, and if history should judge him, Ebola of necessity must be viewed as a penance for which he has paid his due. He has not failed this country and a gracious nation reveres him.

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