Liberians, Why All This “Hard-Head” On The Fight Against Ebola?

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

Every society has certain parlances or phrases that are easily understood or accepted and commonly used in communication among members of that society. They may even be used as idioms. Accordingly, in the Liberian society, there are certain parlances or phrases that convey certain meanings and messages to the people. One of such is “hard-head” which denotes stubbornness or ‘failure to pay heed or take advice for one’s own benefit, survival or something to avoid harm or danger to oneself. This means that whenever this Liberian phrase is used, it normally refers to one who despite warning, advice always fails to make a change in attitude and behavior.

Today, I have decided to use this phrase of “hard-head” because of the latest report I am hearing about the Ebola virus. On Saturday, I was awakened to a call that a neighbor (name withheld) in the proximity of my former office on Gurley Street has fallen victim to the virus. The neighbor, a female, who is a member of a church (name withheld) in which it is said that the virus claimed the lives of others after they reportedly came in contact with a sick person. The story is that the sick person came from Margibi County and sought prayers at the church.

The situation at the church where it is reported that the Ebola virus has hit just right on Gurley Street has left at least four persons dead and two critically ill. According to family members of the last victim, a man who was the first to have fallen prey to a strange illness was believed to be suffering from poison by his family members and was taken to the church for healing.

The story went to say that while at the church during the heat of the Ebola virus, the pastors began laying their hands on him and believing God to deliver the fellow and at a point, one of the pastors who is now ill and said to be at one of the Ebola Treatment Units took the fellow to his home where he spent four days under the condition that he got poisoned from his house therefore he cannot return in that community or house until he is delivered.

According to the story, without seeking medical attention, the pastors continued taking care of the man. It is said that the first to die was the man who was taking care of him at his home, later a woman in the church and then a pastor. The latest to die is the wife of the pastor in whose home the fellow had been taken. Now still living in disbelief of the Ebola virus, the family members of the pastor’s wife are blaming the pastor of leading their daughter to her early death while the family of the carrier who is now somewhere in the Caldwell Community with another sister has blamed it on “spiritual attacks,” and not the Ebola virus.

I have decided to make this an issue today because there seems to indicate that while it is true that the number of cases of Ebola has been decreasing, citizens have equally been told repeatedly that the virus is still around and should therefore abide by the measures announced by health authorities until the virus is kicked out of the country. With this, the government has even launched what is known as “Zero-Case” by the end of this month. This means, with the cooperation of the citizens, this virus would cease to exist in this country.

This is why it is disappointing that despite all efforts by the government and its partners, including the local and international partners. Some individuals and groups are still laying hard-head to believe that this virus still exists, as they fail to abide by all measures by the medical authorities to curtail the spread of the virus. Some of the measures include reporting cases of sick persons, washing hands, not bathing dead persons and avoiding traditional beliefs or practices that have the potential to cause one to contact the virus.

Since the outbreak of this virus that has claimed the lives of many of our compatriots, one of the measures, as stated supra is the issue of reporting cases of sick people, as such persons would be carrying the virus. And so for someone to begin to offer prayers for a sick person, without taking note of the measures announced for sick people at this time, was unfortunate and counter-productive to the fight against Ebola.

It is sad to note that at this time when the nation is being praised for making gains against this fight against this pestilence, some of our people are still hard-headed in abiding by these measures, all geared towards curtailing the spread of the virus. Yes, it is true that the numbers of cases are reducing, but if we are not careful, the situation would undoubtedly get out proportion, something, we should not pray for.

Coincidentally, while receiving news of this latest incident about the church members, as

I listened to UNMIL Radio’s morning program, “WHAT’S GOING ON,” I gathered that it is true that the cases are reducing nationwide. During the program on Saturday, many of the callers from Maryland, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Sinoe, Bong County, Margibi, affirmed that the situation of Ebola has improved in those areas. But it seems that it is in Montserrado County that was badly hit that we are still playing hard-head. Even Lofa, the epicenter of the virus, is said to be under control.

Initially, when the epidemic started, there were doubts in some quarters of its real existence. One lawmaker denied the existence of this, saying it was intended to put money in the pockets of some individuals as there was nothing called Ebola in Liberia. Similarly, one other lawmaker said this was a curse on the President. Interestingly, as the number of persons affected by this got on the increase those who had doubts, changed gear and believed the existence of the virus.

And so today to see people still in state of denial and disbelief is disheartening. This same issue of “spiritual attack “or sorcery led to the death of many persons from Ebola. Also, a man who claimed to have cure for Ebola in Nimba County, reportedly tried to treat people with the virus but he also died of the virus. Indeed, the Ebola situation is not child play or a joking matter as it exits; hence, it is imperative that all Liberians abide by these measures to curtail its spread, so that Liberia, in the next few weeks would be declared “EBOLA-FREE.

As it is said in the Liberian parlance, “when someone is helping to scratch your back, you should make effort too to scratch your stomach.” And so as the international community is helping to fight this disease, we, too, must help ourselves by abiding by these measures to avoid its spread.

Let us stop the denial and disbelief, as EBOLA is real; it is still around. A hint to the wise is quite sufficient. Let’s stop this complacency. I Rest My Case.

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