Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

An Epidemic Sweeps Into Europe In Style

A Touch Of Nokoko by Kofi Akumanyi

For months the improbable rumour made the rounds that a terrible disease is about to spread in Europe. The disease, in fact originated in Africa where the virus that had been spreading the horribly debilitating illness still thrives. Medical experts have predicted that if nothing is done to stop it, the invasion would leave nothing but disaster in its wake.

The last time a carrier of the epidemic visited Europe, according to medical records, was some twenty years ago and it was so internationally repulsed that it had remained "quarantined" in South Africa while the international community tried to find an antidote to the problem.

The symptoms of the disease for those who have not experienced it, are very complicated indeed. When the patient first comes into contact with the 'disease' his temperature shoots up suddenly and the blood pressure soars to a dangerous level while the adrenalin pours into the bloodstream. The poor victim then goes into a fit of extreme anger or depression depending on his constitution. The disease has the uncomfortable characteristic of striking the victim in public places like schools, on buses, hospitals and sporting activities.

The worst aspect of this abomination is that the victims are all blacks and the carriers of the virus are the descendants of the Boers and English who colonised the southern tip of the African continent. They exhibit the disease only as a serious psychological hang-up.


The obnoxious disease if you haven't guessed by now, is Apartheid.

When I first heard that Prime Minister Pieter Botha would be visiting No. 10 Downing Street when he comes on a European tour this week I was, naturally, filled with trepidation. As an African I was afraid that Mr Botha may infect people he comes into contact with that highly infectious disease but I was assured that Mrs. Thatcher's top medical scientists have been working around the clock and are on the point of isolating the virus that causes the disease.

Since the lady herself holds a degree in chemistry and with her reputation as an 'Iron Lady' who brooks no nonsense either from diseases (eye troubles) coercion (check it out with the miners on strike) or socio-economic malaise like inflation, she is determined to handle the problem with the usual attacking style.

Not exactly satisfied with these assurances and armed with knowledge of the devastating thoroughness of the apartheid epidemic I rang the Foreign Office branch of the Apartheid Isola- tion Unit and spoke to the director.

"What's the latest line of action to combat the epidemic which I have no doubts in my mind would be sweeping across Europe this week?" I asked.

"Relax, we have everything worked out and we do not expect any contamination provided people involved with the whole business follow our laid- down instructions to the letter," he said with some confidence which surprised me.

"I'm dying to know the procedure."

"Well, for starters, immediately Mr. Botha, the chief carrier, steps down from the plane he would be whisked away in a specially constructed car to avoid any contact with the Anti Apartheid demonstrators who are expected to cause trouble," he said.

"Now, this is becoming very interesting. There can't be anything more effective than this."

"What Mr. Botha himself would not realise is that he will be in quarantine. But we'll tell him that it is all in his own interest."

"But Mrs. Thatcher has been saying all along that personal contact is of the utmost importance in cases like that. Now that Botha is going to conduct his diplomatic business in a quarantine atmosphere things would not be any different, would they?", I asked.

"Now you don't seem to appreciate the finer points about the issue, do you? All we are saying is that these measures would be announced only as a ploy to pacify the Anti-Apartheid lobby".

"What you're now telling me is that, in fact, when Botha comes in spite of the noises from the media it will be business as usual?" I asked. I couldn't hide the incredulity from my voice. "Does Arthur Scargill know about this?"


"He hasn't been informed yet but the Prime Minister is thinking of inviting him to a meeting with Botha."

“"What for?"

"So that she could tap his energies and persuasive style to talk to him about the appalling working conditions of Black miners in South Africa" the Foreign Affairs man confided.

"This is getting complicated."

"Not until you realise that Mr. Enoch Powell and the National Front also plan to meet with Botha.

"Good grief! That's a pretty messy situation that this is going to create. Can you imagine the contamination that the mere association is going to bring in peaceful Britain?" I said weeping silently into my tear-soaked handkerchief.

"Please don't be so emotional about this small matter. Botha's disease isn't so unique if you come to think about it. It's endemic here too but it's perfectly under control."

"Are you really telling me that the disease is already here in Britain?" I was shocked.

"Yes sir, it's extremely hard to eradicate it. You may check it out from "British Social Attitudes: The 1984 Report which is just out. The difference here is that it has no government backing."

"This is surprising!"

"I know. Mr. Botha, we are reliably informed, will have a copy in his briefcase."

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