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Dr. Mandisa Haarhoff at ASA 2020 Teacher’s Training Session

COVID 19 in Africa: The Danger of a Stereotype Lens 
Dr. Mandisa Haarhoff 

This presentation reflected on how stereotypes continue to be a framework for making sense of African countries. Even as the continent is doing exceedingly better in handling the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. media’s reporting on the low infection and death rates rehearses dangerous stereotypes that undermine the exemplary leadership and management by African leaders. When news of Covid 19 broke out throughout the world and cases began to rise in February, the West panicked over the disastrous results this would have on African countries. The prediction was that once COVID reaches Africa it would be a disaster, an unmanageable catastrophe, and bodies would litter the streets. These fears have proven false and instead, it is leading western countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and France who are struggling with the high COVID infection rates and deaths. African countries have relied on their experience with pandemics to help mitigate the deadly impact of the virus and curb its spread. This presentation looked at how these countries have handled the virus in effective ways and what western countries could learn from them. It discusses the responsible leadership, innovation, and reliance on scientific wisdom, community organizing, and the arts in African countries such as South Africa, Senegal, Lesotho, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. These countries responded with immediacy to institute a national lockdown, mask mandate, offer clear communication in multiple languages and through various artistic mediums, and set-in place community care centers to care for COVID patients.