African artists urge French-speaking world to act on Ebola

27th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

A collective of 20 African artists is calling on leaders gathering at summit of French-speaking nations in Senegal to make the Ebola crisis their top priority.

The International Organisation of French-Speakers, founded in 1970 with the ambition to be a "French Commonwealth", meets every two years, and Ebola is expected to dominate the 15th summit in Dakar from Saturday.

The group, including Malian musicians Amadou and Mariam and Burkinabe rapper Smockey, addressed the summit in an open letter entitled "Ebola: every passing day erodes our hope" published by various media outlets from Wednesday.

"As we write this letter, thousands of health professionals are painstakingly trying to save people affected by Ebola virus, sometimes at the expense of their own lives," they said.

The letter criticises members of the organisation of 77 nations for not having "taken a position" on the epidemic, which has seen some 5,700 deaths in French-speaking Guinea and anglophone Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"Dear heads of state and government, at your Dakar meeting you will need to show solidarity with Ebola victims," add the musicians, who also include Cameroonian musician Richard Bona and Senegalese film-maker Amain Gomis.

"In particular, we expect you to translate your high level political will into concrete actions to help stop Ebola spread and reduce the suffering of your people."

The text urges heads of state to rebuild the damaged health systems after the crisis is over, and re-open schools, ensure food security, safe water and sanitation are available, and "support children who may have had their parents dead".

More than 35 heads of state and government are expected in Dakar for the weekend summit, according to Senegalese foreign minister Mankeur Ndiaye.

French is currently spoken by close to 274 million people, with more than 50 percent of those in Africa.

© 2014 AFP

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