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Message from Editorial Team

Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo


As we watch Covid-19 wreak havoc across the world, readers may be interested
to know that the then Gold Coast (modern Ghana) was severely attacked by the
influenza pandemic of 1918–19 (Patterson, 1983). Patterson notes that the disease
was introduced by shipping along the southern coast and also overland across the
northern frontier. As was the case across the continent, the influenza’s spread
was greatly facilitated by the new colonial transportation network. Quarantines
and other preventive measures were futile and therapy, African or European, could
do no more than alleviate symptoms. Although the disease struck the majority of
the population, mortality rates varied across the country, with deaths especially
numerous in the far north. This is not surprising if we consider that the disease
death rate is positively correlated with poverty, and northern parts of the country
were the poorest. The influenza epidemic killed 100,000 or more people in less than
six months during 1918-19, and, Patterson argues, was almost certainly the worst
short-term demographic disaster in the history of the Gold Coast and Ghana.
Today we have better health facilities, better and faster information flow, but also
more fake news and greater inequality and ethical issues to consider about who
survives and who does not in times of crisis. In the early days of the pandemic,
just before Ghana closed its borders, a group of Italians boarded a flight to Accra,
Ghana, but were turned away when they got to Kotoka International Airport,1 while
another group of Italian tourists whose visas had expired refused to leave Ethiopia.2
This will not be the first time Italians refused to leave Ethiopia.3 At the time of
these two incidents back in March 2020, Italy was at the epicentre of the disease,
and for a country that has, in recent history spurned African migrants, to now have
some of its citizens view Africa as a safe haven was the ultimate irony.

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print ISSN: 2343-6530