Op-Ed: Don’t Let Ebola Dehumanize Africa
A few days ago, I posted a note on Facebook about my scheduled concert next week at Carnegie Hall honoring the late South African singer Miriam Makeba, who was known widely as Mama Africa. I was saddened to see the following comments appear: “Instead of mama africa it should be mama ebola” and “I wonder if she is bringing aby Ebloa [sic] with her?”
Overnight it seems that all the naïve and evil preconceptions about Africa have surfaced again. Ebola has brought back the fears and fantasies of Africa as the Heart of Darkness and the fearmongering about the disease threatens to reverse decades of progress for Africa’s image.
I’ll always remember the night Mama Africa entered my life. I was about 9 years old and there was an old turntable standing in the corner of the dining room of our house in Benin.
I was browsing through my brother’s vinyl-record collection and discovered a Makeba album called “Pata Pata.” On the cover, Miriam’s shoulders were bare; she had a gentle but determined smile. I carefully dropped the needle and an irresistible groove literally jumped out at me. I couldn’t help dancing.