Don’t Blacks deserve Covid jabs? - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 14 February 2021

Don’t Blacks deserve Covid jabs?


The gods are angry. Perhaps it isn’t the gods. One thing is clear – Covid has ravaged the rich and the poor alike. In Southern Africa, Covid-19 recently took more than 10 ministers in three weeks.

Zimbabwe lost at least four ministers. Several African ex-presidents – Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza and Pierre Buyoya, and Eswatini’s PM Ambrose Dlamini – have been taken by the Grim Reaper of a pandemic. I suspect hundreds of thousands of African hoi polloi have suffered the same macabre fate. But we only hear of the demise of the high and mighty because no one cares about “little people”. Except South Africa, most African states either can’t, or won’t, collect and report accurate Covid-19 statistics. 

The lives of Blacks on this planet have been deemed worthless for centuries. We’ve been enslaved, colonised and murdered outright for the benefit of other races and religions. But – and this hurts perhaps even more – we’ve been subjected to terrible oppression and pogroms by our very own. Most African states, including Kenya, have treated their own citizens as human garbage. That’s why they haven’t responded to the pandemic with urgency.

Sadly, many have been Covid denialists, including the aforementioned Nkurunziza. I laugh in pain when Kenyan CS Mutahi Kagwe reports no new deaths from Covid on a given day. Pray, tell me, how would he know? The official numbers are hogwash and inaccurate, if not deliberate, lies. 

Vaccine inequality

To be fair to Mr Kagwe and many African states, they lack the ability to collect data. Many don’t know how many people live in their countries. The census, when it’s done, is usually shambolic. Corruption is clearly the number one problem.

Recently, Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta announced in broad daylight that thieves – read senior state officials – were stealing 2 billion shillings a day. No one was surprised. Surprisingly, however, no one did anything, or organised a demonstration to demand that government should arrest and prosecute the culprits, or resign. Theft of the public purse is normal in Kenya. Meanwhile, the public is in the deadly grip of the empty malignant ruse of “hustlers” versus “dynasties”. How stupid are Kenyans?

We don’t know how many Kenyans contract, and die, of Covid. But we know this – Covid vaccine inequality is real. 

There are two effective authorised vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna. AstraZeneca may be approved soon. Pfizer and Moderna have produced approximately 200 million doses. Production is ramping up and more vaccine is on the way.

Global South

However, so far, over 95 per cent of the available vaccines have gone to the wealthiest and high-income countries – US, EU, UK, China, UAE and Israel. Most people in the Global South, and especially in Africa, won’t see a dose until 2023. In Africa, only South Africans will receive the vaccine the earliest, perhaps in mid-2022. Meanwhile, the more deadly Covid variants will be rampaging.

The World Health Organization launched Covax in April 2020 to purchase and deliver Covid vaccines to over 180 countries, most of them impoverished. Wealthy countries, however, have directly bought the vaccines from Pfizer and Morderna. Could some poor countries have also directly bought the vaccine? I believe so. This would have required strategic thinking, planning, participation in the clinical trials, and ready funds.

However, I don’t know why Kenya’s leadership has been asleep at the switch. Even more troubling, who will get the vaccine if – and when – it finally gets to Kenya? Will folks be given fakes and placebos? Will the country’s leaders and their families get it first? Have they and other bigwigs been secretly vaccinated already?

Recently, I received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine because I am teaching at my university in New York. I shared the good moment on Twitter, largely to discourage vaccine hesitancy and denialism among persons of colour.

Beggarly nation

My good friend, the flamboyant Nairobi lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi – a native of Mandera County – complained I should’ve protested against vaccine inequality and declined the shot until people in Kitui, where I was born, received it first. His comment, as usual, was snarky and tongue-in-cheek.

However, I took it as a teachable moment. I reminded the esteemed attorney of how much vaccine Kenya could’ve bought but for scandals such as Kimwarer and Arror dams, among others. My backhanded jab was a no-brainer. 

As it turns out, Kenya is very rich. We aren’t poor, people! Imagine 2 billion shillings stolen every day. How much money is that in a year? I bet you it’s enough to buy Covid vaccines for every Kenyan twice over. Instead, the government has gone to the World Bank, EU, China and other multilateral lenders with a begging bowl for Covid relief funds.

What’s wrong with this picture? We can’t continue to be a beggarly nation. A beggarly people aren’t a proud people. It’s unforgivable our leaders have made us beggarly. Now, we are slugging it out for the leaders in the silly name of the “hustler-dynasty” stupidity to choose how to remain beggarly. 

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