Conspiracy is a word that’s on everybody’s lips at the moment. The word conspiracy for me brings to mind a classic noir film full of skullduggery. The film is The Big Heat from 1953. Glenn Ford plays a straight-arrow cop who gets caught in a case that leads to his wife’s death. He then goes on a crusade to avenge his wife, uncovering all sorts of dark underhanded dealings from anybody from crooked cops to dirty politicians. It’s a great film, you should watch it.
Mufaro Makubika diasporan
At this moment the word refers mostly to the topic of Covid-19 vaccines. The last year or so has dramatically changed our world as the pandemic rages on. Mass vaccination programmes have been rolled out all around the world to get a grip on the virus and return us to some sort normal.
The UK has been an early and keen adopter of a number of vaccines from the Pfizer to the Oxford vaccine. There are also a number of other vaccines yet to be approved. The UK has arguably the worst death rate in the world so you can see their urgency. The UK has already vaccinated over 4 million people.
It will be a long time before I get the call for my turn to take the vaccine. So, will I go for it? The answer is probably yes. In a recent survey carried out among people of colour in the UK, 72% said they were unlikely to take up the vaccine. This puts me in a very small minority who are willing to take up the chance. There has been a concerted effort by Boris Johnson’s government to encourage people of colour to take up the vaccine.
Statistics prove people of colour are more likely to catch and die of Covid-19 than the white people. The reason for the small uptake in the vaccine is down to widespread and raging conspiracy theories among people of colour.
What are these conspiracies then? The one I hear most is a quote attributed to Bill Gates referencing to population control in Africa. This theory supposes the virus was planned. Gates is neither a scientist nor doctor, so why does what he says matter so much? He has long been an advocate of vaccines and has been putting huge resources into Africa through the Gates Foundation for a very long time. Where was the outrage then? Why now?
Over the last decade or so there has been a world-wide explosion in conspiracies now perfectly encapsulated by the rise of QAnon. During the recent storming of the Capitol in the United States prominent among the insurrectionists was someone calling himself the Shaman for QAnon.
A shaman, as I understand it, is a medicine man or spiritual guide. Maybe in this seemingly odd description of what any normal person would call a whack job lies the heart of the rise of conspiracies. There has been a general rise in socio-political turbulence around the world, from wars and mass migration from the southern hemisphere to the north. It’s created an uncertainty in what were once certain lives leading to people searching out for meaning and stability outside of the traditional norms.
The rise of fake news has also led to a boom in conspiracies. Where once the news was the preserve of a few newsmen now anybody can state a lie on social media and have it spread around the world in minutes and accepted as fact, just ask Donald Trump. Another reason for the rise in conspiracy theories is that someone is making money and benefitting hugely from this disinformation. An example is Marjorie Taylor Greene, a newly-elected Republican congresswoman and confessed QAnon advocate. She ran with conspiracy theories at the centre of her campaign and won.
What’s my reasoning for wanting to take up the vaccine? The answer is simple, I believe in science rather than the ramblings of Tinashe on social media. The reader might argue that since I’m in the UK maybe I’m confident of getting a superior type of vaccine if such a thing exists. There’s a huge fallacy in this argument. Here’s my reasoning for this argument. We are diving into the unknown with all the vaccines on the market. The science may be flawed now but it will get there. The first disease people tried to prevent by inoculation was smallpox in 16th century China and it took many years to get it right. I remember going with my mother to the antenatal clinic at Makoni Shops in Chitungwiza to get my brother his childhood vaccinations. Most people in Zimbabwe have a scar on their upper shoulders as a result of vaccinations received as children. These vaccines weren’t developed or made in Zimbabwe yet we took them and they probably saved our lives. Why the hesitancy with this one?
I’ve been speaking to family and friends in Zimbabwe and a number have expressed the opinion that they won’t be taking the vaccine once it’s available to Zimbabweans. My retort has always been the same as I have stated above: I believe in science. Science is the greatest force ever deployed in this world to save and preserve lives. I remember a few years ago climate scientists were encouraging the world to take climate change seriously to no avail from much of the world’s population. Some even called it a conspiracy by the west to keep Africa underdeveloped. Today you’d be hard pressed to find people who do not believe in climate change.
Devastating droughts and freak storms have all convinced us to take this threat seriously. To get to this point we’ve had to rely on science. As we aim to tackle this pandemic, I implore my fellow Zimbabweans around the world to embrace the science. It’s our best chance of returning to some form of normalcy. I for one I can’t wait till we get there.