Bramble On: When there’s nothing you can do…
October 3, 2014
Throughout most of our lives, we seldom encounter times when there is literally nothing we can do to solve a certain problem. But even when presented with that situation, most of us do something.
With upbeat rhythms that characterize music from the area, calls to action and educational lyrics, musicians in Sierra Leone are attempting to help, the only way they know how, to reduce the spread of the Ebola virus and keep their people from losing their fight against the disease.
During recent months, countries in Western Africa, such as Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been devastated by the virus, which has produced nearly 7,500 confirmed cases and caused 3,431 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In Sierra Leone alone, 2,179 cases have been confirmed and 575 deaths have been reported.
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
It spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids and with surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids.
The disease has spread panic throughout the area, forcing people infected to be quarantined and placing the population at the mercy of foreign help.
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Still, there are those who, despite not having any medical or scientific training, try to do something to help.
"Mustapha Bai Attila says his songs are deliberately to uplift the spirits of people," BBC Africa's Umaru Fofana said during a radio show. "People shouldn't just be groaning and be moaning. That's Ebola mood. He (Bai Attila) says uplifting the spirits of Sierra Leoneans in itself is a curative mechanism."
It is true that when faced with a situation such as the epidemic in Western Africa most of us would have practically nothing we could do to improve the situation.
We are cripplingly ignorant and untrained in most things that involve survival, particularly here in the U.S., because for a long time we have not needed those skills.
In life and death situations, a well-written column, a masterfully produced movie or a passionately constructed song won't directly save someone's life, but art is almost always inherently part of the healing process.
If not lifesaving, it keeps us alive.
Music, outside of actual medicine, scientific research and well-planned precautionary measures, is the best way to get through catastrophic times.
It gives people an identity, even when life is fading.
Historically, music provides a time stamp. It provides a mirror image for society of how we dealt with tough times. It is as much a recorder of history as a dustying book in a library, except its life and public awareness tends to be more resilient.
There may be times in life when there is practically nothing you can do to better your situation or that of someone else. When that happens, just do what you do best, you never know how it could help.