Postcard From Angola

8 September 2020. Updated 9 September 2020.
A young girl walks through the Buracos market, in the Angolan restive region of Cabinda, on April 9, 2019 in Cabinda, Angola. Photo by Daniel GARELO PENSADOR/AFP via Getty Images.

After following Lockdown Sceptics for months with interest, a daily routine that much contributes to slowing down my eroding sanity, I felt compelled to contribute with a postcard of sorts from Luanda. I would prefer to remain anonymous for more or less obvious reasons, and I apologise for my language mistakes as I am not a native English-speaker.

I thought it would be worth it to stress the immense, gargantuan damage that the COVID-19 global reaction is causing to most African countries. I’m not here referring only to the obvious economic chaos, misery and hunger that will be spread over years to come, in which deaths will surely be measured in millions. Rather, I’d like to point out that what is happening right now in countries like Angola. It far outreaches, by orders of magnitude, what in the West is perceived as eroding personal liberties and growing authoritarianism. It brings dystopian perceptions to new unthinkable levels.

Angola is a country in tropical Africa of roughly 30 million people, has of the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the world, and ranks quite high when it comes to corruption, child mortality and lack of access to health care, even by African standards. And, of course, it is plagued by all sorts of diseases, in which Malaria and Diarrhea account for most of the annual mortality. It is also one of the last countries on earth still battling to eradicate Polio, and even a few years back experienced an outbreak of Marburg virus, an Ebola-related disease. You would think that a country with this record and problems would have better things to worry about than COVID-19. And, of course, given its young population, with no care homes, the few that reach old age cannot afford to carry lasting and chronic co-morbidities (so, of course, they die of those co-morbidities before even having the chance of contracting flu, let alone Covid.) Living in a tropical setting subject to warm and moist weather, the population should be pretty unaffected by COVID-19. And not to mention that Angolans, and possibly most Africans, have likely much stronger cross-immunity developed from being constantly exposed to all sorts of viruses on a daily basis!

Against this background you would hope that Angolan decision makers would take the global hysteria with a pinch of salt, and decide go on with their lives and possibly even try to recover some of the development lag towards the rest of the world, right? Well, no. Instead, we bought into this world madness with a zeal that would make proud some of your most fervent bedwetting western politicians. Maybe it is not so surprising if one considers that this is a free ticket to increased authoritarian measures and a tighter grip on a police state. So Angola quickly went into a strict lockdown in March, suppressing people’s movements and liberties etc., and has remained locked down since.

How a lockdown is supposed to work in a city like Luanda with six million people, mostly poor or miserable, crammed into endless favela-style slums, is anyone’s guess. This is a country where COVID-19 allegedly has claimed in six months 124 lives according to Worldometer – less than one per day. The same country where (according to official records, but probably much more) 20 under-fives die every day of Malaria alone. Masks have been mandatory in the streets of Luanda since early July and soon after extended to the whole country. “Science-based” regulations are so strict that everyone is obliged to wear a muzzle everywhere, even if you’re alone driving your own car! And, of course, the police have been very strict in enforcing the law to protect citizens.

During the first few months of this crisis more people were killed by police enforcing rules than by deaths attributed to Covid. A recent report by an NGO mentioned sixteen adolescents shot by police for not wearing masks, including one occasion in a poor neighbourhood where the police stormed into a group of kids playing football on the street, killing at least one. If this alone is crazy, last week madness reached new heights, when a medical doctor was intercepted by the police for not wearing a mask while driving in his own car and unaccompanied. He was duly dragged to a police station to be compelled to pay a heavy fine. What happened next is not clear, and subject to speculation. He ended up dead with a smashed skull and early reports claimed he had been beaten in the police station. Not surprisingly, the police report explains that he died of natural causes, as he had a heart condition and felt sick, and subsequently collapsed to the ground and hit his head, which ultimately caused his death. This news has been widely reported in the local press and has even been written up by Bloomberg.

It just serves to show how far the fear porn instilled into the minds of Westerners can reach out and be amplified when transported into an African context. I wonder if this poor medical doctor entered the Covid death statistics, possibly as an asymptomatic covid death with co-morbidities (heart condition and broken skull)?

Many thanks and keep free!

Friend from Angola

Stop Press: In response to the public outcry over the doctor’s death, an Angolan Government meeting this afternoon was followed by a Presidential decree stating that starting today it is no longer mandatory to wear a muzzle while driving on your own private vehicle!

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