In West Africa, one of the simplest ways to slow the Ebola outbreak is to educate people about how to keep from getting infected with the virus. Now, there are some signs that Ebola awareness is indeed driving down the number of cases in parts of Liberia — and Liberian musicians and DJs may deserve some of the credit.
The airwaves in Liberia are saturated with songs about this disease. Early on in the epidemic the government and aid agencies commissioned public awareness songs but they actually ended up terrifying people. The message: There’s no cure. Don’t touch anybody. Stop eating bush meat.
Adekoya, also known as The Milkman, says one of the most popular songs right now is by F.A. and Soul Fresh, called “Ebola is Real.” It tells people to protect themselves from getting infected. He says two of the most powerful phrases are “The thing, Ebola, now come” and “The thing now show face.”
Radio remains an incredibly powerful medium in West Africa. It blasts from shops and young men crank it up in rust-bucket taxis. You hear it playing from simple shacks and tidy stucco homes.
In addition to the Ebola songs, announcers are regularly talking about the disease. They urge people to stay away from dead bodies, regularly wash your hands and get to a treatment center right away if you have symptoms.