Ebola interruption

Nigerian academics were delayed their visas into South Africa, allegedly due to fears that they may be bringing the Ebola virus into the country.

Now a seminar about Boko Haram at the South African Institute of Internal Affairs (SAIIA) which was to be held at Wits last week – has been postponed.

“This is partly as a result of difficulties around the recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa,” said Sarasa Ananmalay, events manager at SAIIA.

Communications manager at SAIIA, Hopewell Radebe said the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) communicated the message to those who were due to attend the seminar. He confirmed that SAIIA had not received official comment on the matter from the South African Commission in Nigeria.

Executive director of AMEC Na’eem Jeenah said guests were not denied visas into the country because of the Ebola scare, but the media are “suspecting that this is the case”.

“This is partly as a result of difficulties around the recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa,”

Jeenah said the Department of Home Affairs had outsourced the processing of visas to a private company suggesting the processing of visas is “longer than normal because of the Ebola issue”.

Seember Aie from the South African embassy in Abuja, Nigeria disagrees that a visa application would be denied due to health fears of the Ebola virus: “We have never denied a visa based on that,” she said.

The health concerns of travellers have been an issue since the outbreak of the virus, but despite this, airlines continue to operate in West Africa, according to spokesperson of South African Airways (SAA) Tlali Tlali.

Tlali told Wits Vuvuzela this week that the airline had taken measures to ensure safety of passengers adding that staff members would be on “lookout for passengers who bear specific and visible symptoms associated with the Ebola virus”.


Wits adds its voice to #BringBackOurGirls campaign

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SOLIDARITY: Students at Wits University show their support for the missing Nigerian schoolgirls. Photo: Anazi Zote

It has been just over a month since more than 200 girls were abducted from a school in Nigeria and today Wits University added its voice to the international show of support.

About 50 Wits students gathered on the library lawns as part of an art-based solidarity campaign.

Today’s gathering was part of the broader initiative known as #BringBackOurGirls, which advocates for the release of the girls from Boko Haram, a terrorist group which has claimed responsibility for the abductions. The event made use of various art forms such as hand painting and the spoken word to communicate messages of protest.

Wits Amnesty International president at Bambi Stewart said: “The campaign started just under a month ago in Nigeria and we as collective university students, decided to come and show support for the girls.”

[pullquote] “We as Africans in the continent are saying lets come together lets help countries like Nigeria put a stop to such inhumanity”[/pullquote]

Stewart said that Wits University has an important role to play in raising awareness: “More girls have become weaponized (sic) and tools of war, we think that its time as a university we raise our voice as a collective, irrespective of political affiliations or religion”.

The campaign was convened by Dluwadamiloa Apotieri Abdielai, a masters student, who says that the said there is a culture of silence in Nigeria and it is problematic because, “Whatever is happening in Nigeria is happening in several other countries, but people are not talking about it.”

Nigerian community speaks out

The Nigerian diasporic community was also present at the campaign to show their support and disdain for the lack of action towards the Nigerian government towards finding the girls.

Gloria Ernest Samuel who is a PhD fellow from Imo State in Nigeria said, “If the government had done enough, we wouldn’t be here and that is part of why we are supporting the campaign”.