Opinion: Afua Hirsch Was Gratuitously Abused by Her Ghanaian Journalistic Ersatz(es) By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe Jnr., Ph.D.

I knew one or two punks from the Ghanaian social media would come out swinging at Afua Hirsch to please a totally nonchalant Western academic and professional media mainstream that at best looked on with amused contempt, because it was embarrassingly obvious that these White-/West-ingratiating critics – I am almost tempted to say “buffoons” – obviously were too cognitively dissonant and superficial to fully appreciate the very simple albeit deftly nuanced message that the renowned young professionally trained journalist and lawyer sought to send in her rather short, sweet and well-informed piece titled “Why Are Africa’s Coronavirus Successes Being Overlooked,” which appeared in the UK Guardian newspaper edition of Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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It was quite obvious that the mixed-race Mrs. Hirsch, of Ghanaian fatherhood, if memory serves yours truly accurately, was not making any special pleading for the way and manner in which the COVID-19 Pandemic has, so far, been tackled and is still being tackled by Continental African leaders, especially by the government leaders of Ghana and Senegal, which was unusually on par and even in some respects more efficient and forward-looking than what prevailed in the traditionally and putatively cutting-edge scientifically and industrially advanced countries of the world like Britain, France, Germany and the United States.

On the question of the so-called Madagascar Tea Remedy or Cure for the COVID-19 Pandemic, what Afua Hirsch simply did was what most first-rate journalists do in many a scientifically and technologically advanced countries, which was to speak directly to the Director of one of the most globally renowned and respected research establishments, namely, the Max Planck Institutes of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany, which Mrs. Hirsch tells us, is currently conducting clinical trials on a different breed of the same plant specie that is known to grow in the US State of Kentucky. To be certain, the reporter could have spoken to experts from several major research institutions engaged in similar studies or clinical trials.

The Director of the Max Planck Institute, namely, Prof. Peter Seeberger, according to Mrs. Hirsch, stated that so far the Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood plant, was being tested for its COVID-19 curative efficacy, and that the tests were yielding “very interesting” results. Now, what the preceding simply means is that the Madagascar herbal tea brewed from the same species of plant as the one in Kentucky may very well prove to be an effective cure for the Coronavirus disease in the long run. Now, what is wrong with Mrs. Hirsch’s call for the same level of media spotlight that has been focused on countries where clinical trials are being conducted out here in the West to be focused on Madagascar and other countries on the African Continent where similar trials are being conducted? What has such all-too-savvy call got to do with peer-reviewed journals, and the fact that the President of Madagascar, who has been vigorously pushing the medicinal efficacy of the aforementioned plant, may not possess a college degree or a college degree in the sciences?

Mrs. Hirsch’s grossly misguided Ghanaian critics have every right to pretend not to be aware of the general and longstanding disdain and skepticism that tends to readily and invariably greet any progressive scientific developments in Africa by the rest of the world, especially the scientifically and technologically advanced countries of the West. What these critics have absolutely no right to do is to blindly and unwisely imposed their ignorance on a clearly well-educated journalist who undoubtedly knows what she is doing and talking about far better than these would-be familiar male chauvinist armchair critics. I am, personally, disgusted by this imperious and unwarrantedly grandiose display of arrogance by these clearly intellectually and epistemically unenlightened Ghanaian critics of Mrs. Hirsch.

It is also rather ludicrous for these self-appointed apologists for Western science to be servilely impugning the professional competence and moral credibility of the UK Guardian writer and editor. By the way, I am a regular reader of the US Edition of the UK Guardian newspaper and misses absolutely no prime opportunity to read the refined and decent journalistic fare of Afua Hirsch.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe@modernghana.com

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