Author Archives: admin

Ebola Spreads to Mali

Ebola Update: Mali confirms first infection case

23 October 2014

Despite health officials in Mali checking people returning from the Ebola-hit countries in West Africa, the Mali government has confirmed the first case of Ebola in the country today.

A two-year-old girl had tested positive for the virus. She recently returned from neighboring Guinea. Patient Zero, the first known case of this new strain of Ebola that’s ravaging West Africa, was also a 2-year-old who died in December 2013 in Guédéckou, Guinea near where the borders of guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia intersect.

Almost 10,000 cases have since occurred, and 4,800 people have died of Ebola – mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – since March 2014.

Speaking on state television on Thursday, Malian Health Minister Ousmane Kone said the infected girl was being treated in the western town of Kayes.

Kayes is near the border of Guinea-Bissau, 612 km (380 mi) by road from Bamako, and only 96 km (60 mi) from the border with Senegal.

Mali is now the sixth West African country to be affected by the latest Ebola outbreak. Nigeria and Senegal contained their small numbers of cases very quickly and efficiently, and are for the time-being Ebola-free. Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone continue to experience exponential growth of the disease. Although the northern areas of Guinea have been the least hard-hit, they have reported cases, and the spread of Ebola across its porous borders with Mali and/or Guinea-Bissau was just a matter of time.

Kayes is nicknamed the “pressure cooker of Africa” due to its extreme heat. The town has been described as the hottest continuously inhabited town in Africa. The average daily high temperature in the city is 36 °C (97 °F), with temperatures usually peaking in April and May at an average of nearly 42 °C (108 °F).

Once a small village, it became the capital of French Sudan before being replaced by Bamako. It is still a hub for Senegalese commerce, and its proximity to Senegal and Bamako are a concern regarding further spread of Ebola transmission.

Kayes, Mali 2006

Kayes, Mali 2006

The second peak of Ebola in Sierra Leone is linked to viral spread to Kenema, a large city of an estimated 188,463 people (pre-ebola). Ebola occurring in Kayes, with a population of 127,368 in 2009, is of major concern. Also, it has an international airport, facilitating translocation of cases.

At the SE end of the infected region, as we’ve already noted, the only barrier keeping Ebola out of Ivory Coast is the Cavalla River. Given the porosity of the (closed) borders between Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Liberia, and the historical ease of migration across the borders as seen during the conflicts of the 1990s, it is odd that Ivory Coast has not yet reported a case. Underreporting may be at play.

Renovated Musée Picasso (Paris) Opens 25 October

Musée Picasso Reopens 25 October in Paris

Grebo Face Mask.

Grebo Face Mask.

The Picasso Museum in Paris reopens this Saturday, on 25 October (Picasso’s birthday), having been closed since 2009. Expanded to over five floors, the museum boasts more than 5,000 pieces of paintings, sculptures and prints, as well as Picasso’s personal archives.

Thanks to Bruno Claessens for the heads-up on this.

Fernandez Leventhal Gallery — Exhibition Opening 20 November

Fernandez Leventhal Gallery announced a special exhibition entitled Limousin Sculpteur: Rencontres Africaines.

7838532a-098a-48fa-bf1b-cbf6d52b231aThe show explores the shared aesthetics and sensibilities between the sculptor Limousin and African art. The opening will take place on Thursday, November 20, starting at 6:30 PM at their Paris gallery located at 8 rue de Bièvre, Metro Maubert-Mutualité

Musée Dapper Exhibition — L’Art de Manger: Rites et Traditions


Fang Reliquary Figure. Gabon. Musée Dapper, Paris. Photo Hughes Dubois.

The exhibition L’Art de Manger: Rites et Traditions (The Art of Eating: Rites and Traditions) at the Musée Dapper opened 15 October, and will run through 12 July 2014. It is curated by Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau and Anne van Cutsem-Vanderstraete.

The essential theme is that food, the foundation for any group’s survival and its members’ well-being, also allows man to relate to the beings of other cultures. These practices and the myriad objects associated with them are presented in the exhibition. Special utensils including dishes, bowls, cups, spoons, ladles, and other fascinating implements from important cultural practices as marriages, births, initiations, and funerary rites are displayed.

Alain-Michel Boyer of the Université de Nantes, known for his expertise on the Baule, Yaure and Wan of Côte d’Ivoire and his many books on the arts of sub-Saharan Africa, is co-author of the accompanying 350 page book L’Art de Manger: Rites et Traditions en Afrique Insulinde et Oceanie from Éditions Dapper, which will not be released until 30 October.

West African Ebola Education Material in Wrong Language


Are We Educating W. Africans in Pig Latin?

When some of us were children (pre-texting era) we would use “Pig Latin” as a coded language when we didn’t want someone within earshot to understand our secrets. Our elders simply talked in the languages from the “old country”.

Since local and international aid groups and health care workers are making important efforts to educate W. African communities about Ebola avoidance, reporting, and decontamination, one would assume they’re doing so in languages that the people can understand, right?

Not so, points out Don Osborn on the linguistics site Beyond Niamey, who has been making this irony clear to us for quite awhile. West African Ebola education material is often in the wrong language.

Several recent posts on his blog have highlighted the need to provide information about Ebola in diverse African languages. He mentions two important efforts to share material for communication on the disease, which include almost no information (yet) in African languages: the Ebola Communication Network (ECN), funded by USAID and run by the Center for Communications Programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and “Ebola and C4D,” a page on UNICEF‘s Communication for Development (C4D) website.

The need for translators and materials in appropriate languages and dialects (such as Krio, and various Mande, Limba, Kruan languages) is essential, as e.g. only 13% of Sierra Leone women use English.

He notes that on the “Ebola and C4D” page, apparently launched in August, all linked materials are in English, French, or Portuguese, with one item in Khmer and one poster from Uganda in “Bantu” (which is a language family – may be Runyoro or Luganda – seeking to identify).”

Osborn makes a valid plea for “any proactive effort to develop the collection of materials in African languages in affected areas that might otherwise be overlooked.”

Tribal Art Fair Amsterdam 24-26 October

Screenshot 2014-10-20 21.00.53Tribal Art Fair Amsterdam 24-26 October 2014

The TAF in Amsterdam will be held from 24-26 October, with an invitation-only preview on the 23rd.

Twenty art dealers from Holland and abroad will display their pieces, including objects from Oceania, Africa, Indonesia, South America, Tibet and The Philippines.

The exhibitions include jewellery, sculptures, textiles, masks, implements and furniture. All objects at the Fair will be vetted by experts of that region. Collectors, enthusiasts and anyone who is curious about ethnographic art can come and browse or learn more by attending a guided tour or an interesting lecture, all at ‘De Duif’ church in the centre of Amsterdam.

Opening times:
Opening 23 October, 15.00 – 19:00
(by invitation only)
24, 25, 26 October 11.00-18.00
Admission fee: Euro 5,00

De Duif
Prinsengracht 756, Amsterdam

more info:


Nothing We’re Doing or Might Do Will Halt Ebola in W. Africa

0,,17911388_403,00No Short-Term Curb Expected in Ebola Epidemic

Improved infection control practices, increased contact tracing, and even hoped-for pharmaceutical interventions like vaccines or antiviral drugs will apparently not halt the short-term spread of Ebola in West Africa, according to a new study.

A new research paper (Rivers et. al. 2014) using existing data from Liberia and Sierra Leone to model the forecast of the epidemic, concluded that “Near-term, practical interventions to address the ongoing Ebola epidemic may have a beneficial impact on public health, but they will not result in the immediate halting, or even obvious slowing of the epidemic.”

“…the epidemic has progressed beyond the point wherein it will be readily and swiftly addressed by conventional public health strategies. The halting of this outbreak will require patient, ongoing efforts in the affected areas and the swift control of any further outbreaks in neighboring countries.”

This is consistent with earlier predictions by those who stated that the window during which the epidemic might have been contained was back in May and June 2014 and was missed, such as Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg. Early in September, he agreed with others who believe that there is no way to halt the disease now in Liberia and to a somewhat lesser degree in Sierra Leone. His prognosis was grave, predicting that the only way Ebola will stop in Liberia is when it has infected all of the people and killed almost half the population—about 5 million people. He felt that more and continued efforts, particularly international in scope, were still needed, and he did not suggest that we should abandon Liberia and Sierra Leone as lost causes. (Osterath 2014) .

New Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève Opens — 31 October



New Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève Opens — 31 October

The new Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève (MEG) in Switzerland is opening at the end of this month. The old cramped museum closed its doors in September 2010. The new building (shown above), will be inaugurated on October 31, 2014. 1.000 objects from the MEG’s permanent collection are on display.

Its first exhibitions, free to the public, begin 1 November 2014, and include not only the above-noted display entitled “The Archives of Human Diversity” but also “The Mochica Kings: Divinity and Power in Ancient Peru” running from 1 November 2014 – 15 May 2015.

The MEG has one of Switzerland’s two biggest ethnographic collections: some 80,000 objects and 300,000 books and documents including images, photographs, audiovisual and sound recordings. Collected over several centuries, these holdings are divided into five departments according to the objects’ geographical provenance (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania). The museum’s ethnomusicology department is of worldwide scope and boasts a specialized library.

The displays have seven main sections: a historical introduction, a separate section for each continent, and one devoted to ethnomusicology.

The Autumn edition of Tribal Art Magazine features an interesting overview of the museum’s holdings by Boris Wastiau, the museum’s director (73: 76-85). You can read about all planned festivities here.

Ebola Update: All Poro Groups Now Involved in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea

Ebola virus (shown spewing from an infected cell) does not recognize ethnic or political borders.


October 11, 2014

Ebola Update

Neil Carey

All Poro ethnic groups in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have now had cases of Ebola.

• In Liberia, the rural district of Gbarpolu, has reported its first two confirmed cases. This is home to some Gola, Kpelle, Belle, Gbandi and Mende people (Map 3).

• As of 7 October, all ethnic groups in Liberia have become involved, although SE Grand Bassa County (Bassa) and Maryland County (Grebo) have not had any active cases reported in the 3 weeks prior (according to WHO). The case in Grand Gedeh (Kran) that was reported on 19 September was not included on the map below.

• NE Sierra Leone and much of northern Guinea have also not reported any new cases during the 3-week incubation period prior to 19 September.

 There is still no significant headway being made in the fight against Ebola. A total of 8399 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease have been reported in seven affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States of America) up to the end of 8 October. There have been 4033 deaths (WHO UPDATE).

• Medical infrastructure strain and social unrest continues, particularly in Liberia and Sierra Leone. These factors inhibit containment efforts.

• When American healthcare workers (HCW) Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol became ill, there were difficulties in securing medivac from Liberia. This highlighted the dual problems of inadequate training of HCW and inadequate infrastructure to support aid workers. These problems continue, and have many negative side-effects on recruitment capacity, medical infrastructure resilience, and translocation risk. Local containment efforts will continue to be inhibited until these problems are addressed.

 For some unknown reason, Côte d”Ivoire has yet to report a case. Many people wonder if this is not due to a failure to report. Although there have been no new cases of Ebola reported in Grand Gedeh County (Kran territory) since an infected man from Ganta (Mano land) became ill in Zwedru, active and new cases have occurred along the Ivorian border with N’Zerekoré, Guinea, and Nimba, River Gee and Grand Kru Counties, Liberia.The risk of movement of infected individuals to Cote d’Ivoire is increasing.

• These problems contribute to the growing global scale of the problem. It is almost certain that there will be new global infections involving HCW treating aid workers (such as those reported in Spain) and in the United States, for as long as foreign HCW working in West Africa are unable to obtain local treatment, and West African borders remain porous (which they will).

• The potential remains for re-emergence in countries making progress towards containment. This ‘twin peaks’ nature of distribution has historically been observed around Ebola outbreaks, and has already occurred in Guinea and as we’ve noted in Foya, Liberia.

• There seems to be a general mistrust of the data, and there remains concerns about information suppression and incomplete public health data.

Figure 1 shows the location of cases throughout the countries with widespread and intense transmission. In Liberia, the rural district of Gbarpolu, has reported its first two confirmed cases (WHO).

Advice for African Art Dealers, Collectors, Travelers:

Although we’ve briefly discussed the issue of decontamination of objects and the wisdom of avoiding possible exposure to newly arrived travelers from West Africa, the following advice meant for physicians is useful:

• When asking a travel history, TRUST BUT VERIFY and err on the side of caution.

• Significant lack of data and active information suppression in West Africa is inhibiting accurate assessments.  This is a poor indicator.  Epidemic curves now falsely show a “peaking out” of cases.  This is not the reality.  Things remain very much completely out of control.

• Several African nations have resumed flights to Liberia.  This is an exceedingly poor decision according to infectious disease experts.

• As noted above, there are new cases popping up along the NW border of Côte d’Ivoire.  We are waiting for a declaration of Ebola involvement in this country, coming by water from across the Cavally River or from newly re-established flight connections.

• There are reports of West Africans who have successfully fled by airplane to Colombia, and reported intercepts at the southern border of the US.  Some of this information requires verification, but if true, it is obviously a point of concern for the involved states, and this is no longer just an East Coast problem.