Hey Gals and Guys,
Greetings from Guinea!
Lately I’ve been suffering from insomnia. I’m 100% sure it is linked to my anti-Malaria drug and this is precisely why I tried to get away with not taking them on this trip. From 2007 to 2014 I visited this continent over 10 times and never took anti-malarial medicines. In the late 2000’s, whenever I visited Ghana, my parents would send me back to the States with a box of Malaria medicine, just in case I got sick after I returned. Never needed them! I had Malaria a couple of times growing up in Ghana and it is not pleasant, to say the VERY least. But I hate medicine. Don’t get me wrong-I know Malaria kills. It is the #1 killer of children in Guinea and thousands more people have died from Malaria than Ebola during this outbreak. But I’m gangster! Or at least I thought I was. After sharing a ride with a visiting doctor and eavesdropping on his phone conversation about plans to medivac a patient that is on life-support due to Malaria, I decided to put my “thug life” ways behind me and pay him a visit the next day 🙂
During my visit, I was presented with two options: Mefloquine and Malarone.
Mefloquine is a weekly tablet and the side effects include (but are not limited to):
- depressed mood, feeling restless or anxious;
- confusion, extreme fear, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior;
- severe or uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea;
- cough, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
Malarone is a daily tablet and the side effects include (but are not limited to):
- severe or uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea;
- fever, mouth sores;
- problems with speech, balance, or walking;
- severe skin rash;
- nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools
I would rather have two doses of MALARIA than take either, but the kind doctor informed me that if I didn’t choose one, the Embassy Medical Unit would not take care of me if I got sick for ANY disease- including Ebola. I took the Mefloquine and thanked him for his time.
Since then, I’ve had several sleepless nights; have considered quitting my job; have become very homesick (despite not having a “home” to go back to); and have thought of some very unorthodox ways to get rid of a headache. I won’t share these “unorthodox” ways with you all because some may say they sound suicidal and would be obligated to get me psychological help.
This week, I had only one good night of sleep-Tuesday night. That was the night the Nigerian election results were announced.
Like everyone else on the continent, on Tuesday I was glued to the news all day long. On my computer I had BBC Africa Live on one tab, nigeriaelections.org on another, and a political map of Nigeria on a third. I was adding and subtracting and doing all sorts of analysis! One would have thought for sure that my father was one of the candidates, when in fact I wasn’t supporting either candidate. I think they are both bad.
Two important facts to note:
- Roughly 90 million people were eligible to vote in that election BUT only 28 million people did. That is 30% of the population. Seventy percent of Nigerians have zero faith in either candidate.
- A country of 170 million people and Goodluck Jonathan and General Buhari made it on the ballot paper. I will leave it at that.
But at the end of the day I was still VERY proud of Nigeria and of Africa as a whole. I don’t agree with the saying “when Nigeria sneezes, the rest of the continent catches a cold”. I also don’t agree that the political destinies of Ghana and Nigeria are linked as some would like to suggest (God Forbid!). But I do believe that if you stick a thermometer in Nigeria, you can get the general temperature of the continent. YES, Jonta, there is a difference!
The “Sneeze/Cold” analogy usually follows with a discussion about how Nigeria is 1/5th of the African population; it’s the largest economy; it has major stakes in all the other countries, especially West Africa; If there is a major economic downturn, or other catastrophe in Nigerian, it will reverberate across the continent; blah blah blah … I don’t buy it. Nigeria went through hell with Boko Harram, but Africa has still been on the rise.
Now to my “Thermometer/Temperature” analogy. For the past couple of years several African countries with bloody pasts have been relatively peaceful. Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Rwanda, and DRC have all been pretty stable. Even Nigeria, despite all odds, waited until the election to change their head of state. I’m not saying that one country has an effect on the other. There just seems to be a general move in the right direction for all of these countries.
Of course there are some outliers, like South Sudan and the Central Africa Republic, but from this election we can tell that there has been a drastic change in the tide. It didn’t start with Nigeria at all. In fact some may say they were late to the table. But we can accept that we are all generally doing better. I also like my “Thermometer/Temperature” analogy better because now we can say Nigeria is the armpit of Africa 😉
Nigeria has had its ups and downs but on Tuesday, on behalf of the entire continent, it announced to the world that Africa is tired of wars and coups and negative press and is MOVING FORWARD. There are a couple of other elections to look out for this year. Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, and Guinea all go to the polls in October. Something tells me they will all do just fine!
This week, Africa also announced to the world that it is funny! Trevor Noah was announced as the next host of The Daily Show. I haven’t spent that much time in the States since he joined the show last December and prior to this week I had never even heard of him. I was skeptical at first because he’s only been on the show since December. I’m not one of those Africans that get all excited just because a fellow African has been given the international spotlight. Lets be honest, Africa has given the world some “questionable” characters. So I did some research on the guy and I was not disappointed! He had me rolling on the floor in tears. I think his “AfricanNESS” will bring another dynamic to the irony on the show. It’s one thing for a fellow American to make fun of the U.S. government. It’s a totally other thing when the flaws are pointed out in an “African” accent (and he has a couple of accents up his sleeve!).
This week I leave you with this clip from Trevor Noah at Comic Relief. This set really hits home for me and I’m glad that he and I will have a shared experience!
Have a Happy Easter for HE IS RISEN! Hassmiou and I will be eating a whole chicken this Sunday 🙂
See you next week, on the Chronicles of Conakry.
P.S. I’ve attached some of my favorite memes about the Nigerian election. Even though Africa gained major points with the Nigeria election, we also lost a much loved public figure: First Lady Patience Jonathan a.k.a Mama Peace. But never worry! She will be back, because Deris God oo!