So, despite the prayers of all our men of god and prayer warriors, Ebola somehow found its way into Nigeria. It is not my place to judge the efficacy of prayers or if the men of god should review their status as people with access to heaven. I mean with all the 10% gate fees these men of god collect, we should expect more, but I am more concerned about earthly issues.
For example, the Federal Government has announced that it will start checking the body temperature of people coming on certain flights into the country. Why are they checking for high temperatures? Because a fever is one of the early symptoms of Ebola. Other symptoms of Ebola include, weakness, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, rashes, red eyes, vomiting, hiccups, internal and external bleeding and muscle aches. (To be clear, if you experience any combination of these symptoms you should immediately go to a hospital. Ebola patients who survive usually get early treatment.)
This article is about how a healthy person avoids being mistaken for an Ebola patient and have his or her hustle truncated for a long time. Because the moment for example, your temperature is detected as being high, you will be immediately quarantined and observed/tested for Ebola. And you know Nigerians. Even if it turns out to be a wrong call and it was your laptop that created the heat and you are allowed to go after a few days, Nigerians will avoid you for the next three months. Neighbours will ban their children from going to your house. The church committee you are on will suddenly start having meetings behind your back. Your wife may suddenly decide to go and visit her cousin for a while. Your relatives, in anticipation of your eventual demise will begin quarreling over your property as if you didn’t exist.
Yes, fear of Ebola is understandable and even expected, but we are the lords of stigma and will judge you for even being suspected of Ebola.
If you ever thought that anyone cares about you in Nigeria, stop it. Now! We are not America that flies one citizen alone on a plane from Liberia to receive the best care at home. You must take matters into your own hands to avoid all the things that can raise your temperature or make you a suspect at an airport.
1. Do not sleep on the plane. Getting off the plane looking groggy or red-eyed can lead to profiling. A health officer from the Ebola team will pull you aside for questioning and with social media, within two minutes your family and entire community will hear on Facebook and Twitter that you are being tested for Ebola. Even if all the health officer did was ask you one question before letting you go.
2. Do not take too much alcohol before flying or landing. This gives off at least two symptoms of Ebola: red eyes, and weakness.
3. Do not be a glutton and eat everything offered on the plane. You do not know what you will go and eat or drink that will make your stomach run. And in these days of Ebola, once Nigerians see you go to the toilet many times, they will be the first to tell airport officials that you seemed to have diarrhea on the plane and they suspect you have Ebola. Eat only what you know please. And drink only water. You can eat well when you get home.
4. Do not slouch or walk sluggishly as you leave the plane. Walk upright. March if you have to. Sing songs. Show signs of strength and vitality. Anything that will make them not suspect you have Ebola.
Now, one consequence of the Ebola scare is that you may become paranoid and suspect every passerby of having the virus. Sometimes extreme worry can stress you out which can in turn reduce your immunity and make you have headaches and all. Then you start really freaking out and go to the hospital because of the headaches which you think might be Ebola. Even though the doctor will tell you it is only stress, people will hear that you freaked out and went to check if you had Ebola, and then the stigma will begin. That kind of stigma takes months if not years to disappear.
So, how do you put your mind at ease about being exposed to the virus? I do not suggest that you stop touching people altogether, but if you are that kind of thorough person who hates loose ends, here are ways to politely avoid touching people in public:
1. If you are a northern woman this is easy. Just say you do not shake hands with men. When you meet women tie your veil in such a manner that your hands are hidden from view. Make exaggerated gestures with your head to distract them. Say hello but quickly add that you are in a hurry.
2. If you have nail polish, use it often. Always tell people you want your nail polish to dry. If there is anything we respect in this country, it is the right of nail polish to dry undisturbed.
3. Tie a bandage around your hand before you go out and tell people you have a fracture. They will not attempt to shake you and will even feel sympathy for you. In fact some will go as far as invoke the healing power of da lord to cure you. This one has a downside: as the overzealous person is trying to pray for you, he or she may end up trying to touch you, lay hands on you. Quickly inform them that your own man of god has it covered and you don't want to fuck up that prior prayer. Walk away quickly.
4. For people who are stubborn, pick your nose exaggeratedly just before they want to take your hand. No one wants to shake someone who has just finished digging into their nose.
May fear of the virus not find us and permanently truncate our hustle.