Melinda Gates, the wife of billionaire Microsoft founder, Bill Gates and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has come under fire for what many critics have tagged a racial statement against Africans.
While speaking to CNN on the effects of the deadly virus on third world countries, Mrs. Gates opined that it would only take a matter of time before dead bodies from Covid-19 casualties’ line the streets of Africa if something drastic is not done to curb the spread of the virus.
“It’s going to be horrible in the developing world,” she said of a possible impact on African countries if COVID-19 situation on the continent turned out as bad as the situation in Europe, China or the U.S.
The philanthropist also said the low number of cases of COVID-19 in African countries compared to some other parts of the world is because of the limited testing facilities.
“Part of the reasons you are seeing the case numbers still do not look very bad is because they don’t have access to many tests.
“Look at what is happening in Ecuador, they are putting bodies out on the streets, you are going to see that in countries in Africa,” she said.
She said African countries have a poor health care system and need humanitarian support.
She added that when she “saw what China had to do to isolate an enormous part of its population, my first thought was Africa. How in the world are they going to deal with this?
“I have been in townships all over Africa and slums. When we talk about physical distancing and hand-washing, if you live in slums that can’t physically distance, you have to go out and get your meals.
“You don’t have clean water to wash your hands.”
Well, it appears that her remarks did not go down well with some critics who accused her of racism. Some social commentators ascertained that her statements only highlights the worries expressed by many foreigners as to why the epidemic has not ravaged Africa as expected.
A renowned Nigerian activist, social commentator and Chieftain of Nigeria’s largest opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Femi Fani-Kayode expressed anger at Melinda Gates’ statements.
The one-time Minister of Aviation in Nigeria tweeted:
“I see dead bodies all over Africa” Melinda Gates.
“Horrendous vision from a horrendous lady with a horrendous husband.
“We reject it and return it to the sender! The agenda of Satan for Africa shall not stand. Those that have dug a pit for us shall fall into that pit themselves.”
Many Africans on social media have commented on the issue, with some defending Melinda Gates, saying she was only making a statement of fact. Some have also highlighted that the philanthropic activities of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Africa give Mrs Gates the authority to comment on Africa issues as a stakeholder.
Below are some reactions to Twitter users on the issue.
Adunni Achebe @_Adadioramma says:
“For a couple that has given out billions of dollars in grants to help eradicate Polio, malnutrition, Malaria plus free ARV medications to reduce the burden of HIV, Bill and Melinda Gates sure do receive a lot of hate in this country.”
Dr Ola Brown @NaijaFlyingDr says:
“Melinda Gates is implying that if necessary measures are not put in place to prevent the Covid-19 outbreak in Africa, will be a calamity.”
Babanla @biolakazeem says:
Bill & Melinda Gates morphing into villains deserving of vilification & scorn instead of appreciation for investing so much of their wealth & time in poor countries is a plot twist I never saw coming. There’s a lesson there for us. No matter what you do……….. 😊
Olawale Olaleye @Zaheeto says:
Covud-19: Don’t Wait Till… Truth is, if we do not take this Covid-19 challenge as seriously as it requires, Melinda Gate’s predictions are nearer home than we can imagine.
What are your thoughts?