Coronavirus: Another 1984 Replay

Dr. Tedros & Donald Trump

AGAIN: It has Begun

Coronavirus has gone beyond medical issues, at least for now; it has assumed a new dimension, political and racial tension.

The world health watchdog organization, World Health Organization (WHO) under its current director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has come under attack from United States, specifically, from the POTUS, who accused the organization of “China-centric.”

With comment of this magnitude coming from American chief executive officer, it has opened WHO chief executive to unnecessary or needless verbal attacks, insults, racially maligned undertones; in some quarters, people are calling for his resignation coupled with death threats to his life, as claimed by Dr. Ghebreyesus.

The Why Questions

Why should Africa or Africans be subject of ridicule and insult, whenever the continent has a chance at global organization top job? Why racial undertone every time on issues when Africans hold top world jobs? Why examining or scrutinizing Africans with under racial binoculars? Why a skewed telescope, contorted microscope, and convoluted magnifier to examine Africans for the same job others have free rein?

Back in History

Some thirty-six years ago in 1984, United States government became very uncomfortable with UNESCO, when an African, a Senegalese diplomat of impeccable character, Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, led the organization.

From alleged corrupt practices to administrative and budgetary indiscipline; “a totally politicized, demoralized bureaucracy,” west under United States launched attack against Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, accusing him of anti-America, anti-Israel, but pro Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

The attack continued until 1984, when United States withdrew its membership, and a year after in 1985, United Kingdom, another ally followed suit.

Their Reasons

Was corruption the matter? Was reform and democratization the matter? Was organization’s overhaul the issue? Certainly no, they were some underlying issues, which made American government very uncomfortable with UNESCO.

The pro-USSR and anti-Israel allegations were mere pretense; however, the main reason for leaving the world body revolved around “MacBride Commission” otherwise known as International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems.

Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow set up the Commission in 1977, and the Commission’s task include but not limited to “analyze communication problems in modern societies, particularly relating to mass media and news, consider the emergence of new technologies and to suggest a kind of communication order (New World Information and Communication Order) to diminish these problems to further peace and human development.”

For decades, West controlled world media.

The five world news agencies: Reuters, UK; Associate Press (AP), USA; United Press International (UPI); Agence France-Presse (AFP), France; TASS-Russian News Agency, Moscow, Russia.

These agencies ran-one-way-communication-traffic; telecommunications technologies were under their grip; media contents, gathering, processes, distributions, storage were under their control.

Telecommunications union: International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and affiliate organs: Radiocommunication (ITU-R); Telecommunication Standardization (ITU-T); Telecommunication Development (ITU-D) they owned.

In addition, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) was under west control.

The imbalance in information flow, M’Bow’s UNESCO decided to correct and fixed for the future generations.

With McBride Commission, all media issues at global, continental and national levels considered; the Commission came with 82 far-reaching recommendations, grouped into five different parts.

In fact, the Report has been the most significant document in the field of Mass Communication in 20th century.

It pulled down yesterday’s barriers, created new frontiers; moreover, it unbundled communication from top to bottom, lay the groundwork for what today’s media world should look like.

Recommendations include:

  • Strengthening Independence and Self-reliance-with communication policies; strengthening capacities.
  • Democratization of communication, strengthening of national media to avoid dependence on external sources
  • Promotion of policies to liberalize media, Telecommunication market, electronic media.
  • Integrating Communication into Development
  • Facing and preparing for Technological Challenge.
  • Strengthening and Promoting Cultural Identity.
  • Reducing commercialization of Communication.
  • Protecting Media practitioners in hostile environment.
  • Media Social Responsibility
  • International Cooperation and Synergy.

Even though, United States and United Kingdom returned to the UNESCO years later; nevertheless, the damage from membership withdrawal was already done, which to this day affect the organization.

Mahtar M’Bow’s Treatment:

Unfortunately, the fate suffered by M’Bow, two successive African Secretaries-General of United Nations, Boutros-Boutros Ghali and Kofi Annan pass through.

Should Africans be made scapegoat for faults not their making?

Should Africans be judged by yesterday’s racial constructs, which have been scientifically proved wrong?

Should Africans be held responsible for the failures of others just because they hold world top job positions?

Should negative racial undercurrent feature in everything about or around Africans?

After all, history is replete with all kinds of people who had led, or still leading global organizations with terrible past. At a time in history, a Nazi ally or “Mitlaufer” was a two-term head of UN, and nothing happened to him. In many instances, high profile cases against international civil servants had made headlines, only to be dropped with “lack of no evidence.” The homelands of individuals involved in these cases never suffered attack or ridicule, as they pass through legal routes.

Africa or Africans should not be condemned collectively, when one of her own holds top global job; if such an individual is unfit or deserves reprimand, let the law takes its course.

Collective insults, racial teardowns, and attacks will continue to create racial tensions among people, until people tone down racial attacks. People should know, no nation is autarky, just as Africa needs west, west needs Africa MORE.