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African stars join fight against virus with donations, songs

AFP/London
Filed on March 26, 2020
Legendary striker Samuel Eto'o

It (the virus) knows neither race, religion nor political parties. It kills the rich and the poor. Even in countries where research is done well, Eto'o said

Footballers and musicians have been on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus in Africa, reaching not just for social media to spread awareness of the dangers of the virus but also for the cheque book.

Among the first to step up was Senegalese winger Sadio Mane -- a key player in Liverpool's push for the English Premier League title this year -- who donated 30 million CFA francs ($50,000) to his country's National Medical Commission to fight the deadly microbe.

In Ivory Coast, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba gave masks to the cathedral of Abidjan, with the warning: "My sisters, my brothers, I ask you to take the matter very seriously... we tend to be too light about our reactions to the situation."

Another great African striker, the Cameroonian Samuel Eto'o, also now retired, was quick to urge African communities to adhere strictly to precautionary measures.

"My African brothers and sisters! Corona Virus has taken over our lives. With malice, arrogance and without notice," Eto'o wrote.

"It knows neither race, religion nor political parties. It kills the rich and the poor. Even in countries where research is done well, the consequences are disastrous. Unpredictable.

Eto'o spent most of his playing career in Spain.

"For all these reasons my brothers, sisters, dear parents, I ask you to respect the instructions given by the authorities of our countries and the World Health Organization."

Affected after Asia and Europe, sub-Saharan Africa has recorded only 1,642 cases and around 20 deaths, according to an AFP count at 1100 GMT Thursday from officially declared cases.

The continent, however, fears a lightning-like spread that would overwhelm its already fragile health structures.

In South Africa, the most affected country on the continent, Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi released a couple of videos online showing himself at home with his children, adhering to the isolation regulations laid down by President Cyril Ramaphosa

"Stay safe, stay strong, let's fight this together," he says.

African musicians are also stepping up as the continent faces one of its bleakest hours.

Youssou N'Dour, described by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 as "the most famous singer alive" in Senegal and Africa, handed over a batch of medical equipment to the health ministry in Dakar in mid-March.

Fellow Senegalese rappers collective "Y en a marre" ('Had enough') set aside their usual antipathy towards corruption and current politics to release a song called "Fagaru Ci Corona" which warns of the dangers of the virus and advises on washing hands and wearing masks.

They are among other artists who have temporarily laid down their protests against governments to join forces and rally around messages being put out by the authorities.


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