Life in Wuhan: An African Student Reflects on Months of Forced Isolation

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By The China Africa Project. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Just as the rest of world struggles to contain the highly-infectious COVID-19, China is now starting to emerge from its own battle with this deadly virus. Slowly, people are being allowed out of their homes and even returning to work. But not everyone.

In Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, residents are entering their third month of forced confinement in their homes. And even though some now see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, it’s nonetheless been a difficult ordeal for everyone, especially for the thousands of African students who were unable to leave.

Although there’s no precise number, it’s widely believe there are around 4,600 African students in Wuhan, many of who have struggled mightily over the past few months dealing with fear of being infected, the loneliness that comes forced isolation and just being a foreigner in a country far away from friends and family.

Their ordeal and calls for their evacuation have been widely covered in the African media but now with the crisis ebbing in China and escalating back home, it seems increasingly improbable that they will be repatriated by their governments. Instead, they’re just going to have to ride out the remainder of the quarantine period in the hope that the virus truly has retreated in China.

One would think that this difficult experience might have tainted how these students view China given all they’ve had to endure. But Michael Addaney, a doctoral researcher at the Wuhan University School of Law and Vice President of the local chapter of the Ghanaian Students Association, said, actually, it’s the other way around. He’s been impressed with how the Chinese have handled the crisis while at the same time felt abandoned by his own people back home, many of which were fearful of him and the other 82,000 African students returning to Africa potentially infected with the virus.

This left Michael and his peers with a sense they’ve been abandoned by their own people.

Michael joins Eric & Cobus from Wuhan to talk about his experience living under quarantine in the epicenter and what day-to-day life has been like for him and so many other African students there.

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Twitter: @eolander | @stadenesque | @MicAdney

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