By Chris Mbunwe, *Melanie Kengni & Chunya Manka’a
Scary phone messages warning regular pork and bush meat consumers that they risk contracting the virus that causes the Ebola disease, have put pork dealers out of business.
Pork has been a delicacy in almost all popular drinking palours in Bamenda and that no death celebration is carried out in villages of Moghamo or Meta tribes without the slaughtering of pigs. It is no longer the case.
According to Cyprian Anye, who has been in pork business for years at the entrance to the Bamenda City Council, his customers have been scared away and he is finding it very difficult to operate. Anye said he takes a lot of precaution and that his pigs are always examined by veterinary doctors before he slaughters them, boils and serves to customers.
He argues that, that way, any disease in the pork is killed. He admitted that most of his colleagues have shut down their businesses for lack of customers. Another pork dealer at Hospital Roundabout, Bamenda, Simon Ndeh, told The Post that for about three days he has been unable to go home with FCFA 15,000.
“I used to go home every blessed day with, at least, FCFA 125.000, when the business was good and today I am very uncertain because people are not buying the pork. If the situation worsens, I will have to close the business. In the first place, when you take the pork home, no neighbour is prepared to even buy a slice at a give-away price of FCFA 100, down from FCFA 500 that we used to sell,” Ndeh lamented.
Other pork dealers are of the opinion that the Government should counter the messages sent to phones infering that they are from the World Health Organisation, WHO. “Let the Government use the same social media and reassure our population, especially pork consumers that eating pork would not infect people with the Ebola virus.
This should be done very fast to save us from crumbling,” remarked Jones Tamfu and Thomas Anye, both pork dealers in Nkwen. A consumer, Quiniva Dobgima, said she no longer eats pork nor “bush meat” since she heard of the Ebola virus. Another pork consumer Zita Nde, said she has decided not to eat meat, be it pork or whatsoever.
She said she has received several messages instructing that people should not eat bats, pork, chimps and monkeys; that they should put salt in warm water and use for bathing. The author of the sms also advises that, to prevent Ebola, people should eat “bitter kola”. In an interview with The Post, Dr. Nick Ngwanyam, CEO of ST. Louis University of Health Sciences at Mile 3 Nkwen, dismissed the eating of “bitter kola” as a preventive measure from Ebola infection.
“Those propagating this theory want to sell or push up the prices of
bitter kola because it has not yet been scientifically proven anywhere by medics that it is helpful in the prevention of Ebola. If people want to remain stupid, let them eat a basket full of bitter kola, it will not help. This disease is the most complicated and we should talk more on hygiene and hygiene only.
People, even PHD holders, are so careless about personal hygiene. Some body goes to the toilet and after relieving himself, does not wash his/her hands with soap. A man goes and urinates, wriggling urine on fingers and on return, starts sharing kola nuts. So, you see; we have zero concepts of what hygiene is all about.”
Dr. Nick Ngwanyam said until Cameroonians will learn how to break the cycle of diseases caused by germs, if Ebola ultimately finds its feet in Cameroon; so many will die of the disease. He said this is the time for Government to develop a strategy to handle complicated diseases rather than make speeches. He blames Cameroonians for always looking for cheap methods to problem solving.
“If they don’t eat pork, will they die? In the first place, who told them that pork contains Ebola? The good thing is that, if Cameroonians shy away from consuming “bush meat”, our endangered animal’s species would be saved.
Meantime, medical doctors from the Bamenda Regional Hospital and Nkwen PMI Hospital, Drs. Julius Sama and Arrey, have been on the airwaves, stressing on hygiene and that no case of Ebola has been discovered in Mamfe as rumours hold. They advised lovers of pork and other meat to ensure that it is well cooked before consumption.
*(CCU Journalism Students on internship)