This article is a machine translation from French. Click ‘Français’ in the menu to read the original text.

Coming from Bamako, we were considered as potential carriers of the virus, even though we were not. The Malian capital is the epicentre of coronavirus disease in the country.

We are members of the Voice4Thought Academie team. We train young people to do research in their home regions in order to deepen their knowledge of their own country and to better develop their voice to be heard in the process of change.

Not a day goes by without the various media around the world making a gruesome tally of the victims of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything about this virus is controversial. Its origin is the subject of heated exchanges between the United States of America and China; how the virus spreads, how to prevent contamination. In the end, however, it is a deadly virus whose neglect or misjudgements would have facilitated its spread with consequences that are known to be unfortunate.

In Mali, people were following with great interest the evolution of the disease in the affected countries, given the importance of the Malian diaspora in highly affected countries such as China, Spain, France and the USA. On social networks, Malians of the diaspora informed their relatives on a daily basis about their situation. Some tried to calm the spirits of one another while others were borderline alarmist. In general, they gave information on the seriousness of the disease, the conditions of transmission of the virus, the barrier measures and the consequences of confinement on their activities. This last point is important because the diaspora feeds many families in this country. If migrants are no longer active, it is because the money will eventually stop being sent. Malians in the diaspora were finally asking for blessings from the listeners. The communes covered by the Voice4Thought project were no exception to the rule. Because with our various visits to the sites, the debates on COVID 19 were at the beginning and end of all the interviews.

It was on the night of 24-25 March 2020 that Mali, following many African countries, announced imported cases of coronavirus disease. A man and a woman both from France turned out to be infected. Previously, as a precautionary measure, the State had taken care to close schools, hotels and leisure areas and introduced a night curfew from 9pm to 5am. Despite the various announcements and statements referring to deaths, grounded aircraft, and the near halt of the world economy, interpretations around COVID 19 were going strong. Conflicting opinions are circulating all over the place on social networks and sometimes even on television screens to defend or deny the truth of the very existence of the pandemic, while the whole world is alarmed, not to say inflamed, by a microbe invisible to the naked eye but which is cutting off sleep in many cases because of the damage it is inflicting on all humanity.

No country, no race, no civilization is officially spared. Even Africa, whose climate and the darkness of the skin of its inhabitants were touted as being able to resist the said pandemic, has not escaped. But all this has not helped to calm the ardour in Mali as in Africa and elsewhere of the supporters of conspiracy theory and the ultra-sceptics. The latter, whose opinions are out of step with those of the sick, the caregivers, those who have lost loved ones, not to mention all those who have found themselves unemployed around the world because of this pandemic, which “came to us but I don’t know how,” said one of Macina’s interlocutors, continue to nod in spite of everything.

Having said that, the coronavirus is here and it’s after us, so what should we do?