Saturday, 27 June 2015

Deceiving Africa to Death

"... It is ridiculous to claim a group of people in the infant stages of a process of adopting an alien culture would overtake the same alien culture in rates of a medical condition, such as hypertension, associated with the alien culture's life-style. There have to be factors at play causing this anomaly, and genetic susceptibility to hypertension cannot be one of them given, in Africa, the manifestation is restricted to the present. Genetic susceptiility to a condition is permanent, and should as such be notable as a factor in the present as well as the past..."

It was with a sense of deja vu and a justified paranoia that I listened to a radio broadcast in which a Dr. Samuel Odgi Odgi from Nigeria was giving his opinion on why rates of hypertension in Africa have overtaken those in Europe and America. According to this doctor, westernization, especially as it involves the habit of eating voluminous amounts of unhealthy fast foods, takes the Lion's share of the blame for Africa seeing a remarkable increase in the rates of this medical condition. The other part of the blame, according to him, is genetic susceptibility. The last item appears to be a conclusion drawn from what can be considered dubious scientific studies when the history of hypertension on the African continent is reviewed in perspective. These studies, done God-knows-where, neglect the truth hypertension in Africa, evidenced by the rapid rise in the number of strokes, for example, has only become endemic in the last two decades.

What disturbs me the most is the fact I have heard the very same excuses given for the rapid rise in the rates of diabetes on this continent, by different people in different parts of the world ... all of them purportedly highly educated, all of them experts in the field, all of it normative ... and I caution Africans that while the self same arguments may seem sound on the surface, especially given they are made by men and women wearing badges of high erudition which also implies high intelligence, consideration of a few simple facts shows the arguments supporting the conclusions are absolutely illogical ...

Westernization: French Fries or Dried Cassava Roots with Groundnuts

Let Africans who own large flatscreen televisions, Blackberry phones, cars, etc., Africans readily exposed to such reports because they can afford to be connected to the major world media, not make the mistake of overloking the truth that even though they may feel like they make up Africa, because they tend to go places where those whose lives resemble theirs frequent, they are in reality the minority. The majority of Africans cannot afford to buy what are meant by the term fast foods. For this group in society, fast foods are not humburgers at a Macdonald joint, but the healthier local foods not included in the causes of hypertension, such as peanuts or casava roots ... dried or fresh.

Comparison of the quantities of fast foods consumed between the two cultures shows that they differ accross the social board. While it is true that nary an African household has not been westernized ... does not for example drink tea with bread in the morning, the typical African breakfast may be of western origin but differs from it significantly where the ingredients are concerned. Tea with bread and butter, sometimes with just bread, is the norm for an Arican breakfast, which is a far cry from the cooked beans, omeleted, sandwiched breakfasts considered the norm in the west.

To be clear, this difference isn't just an indicator Africans have not adopted the western culture in full, but an issue of expense as well. The rich in African society can afford to approximate western standards because they can afford it, but the social layer just bellow them, people actually in gainful employment or self employed, running small scale businesses, who are considered well-to-do in African communities, cannot afford to eat even as much fast foods as a homeless person in the west. Fast foods for these African people are as such a luxury, compared to the same strata in the west, or even a homeless person whose choice whether to gourge themselves on fast foods or not does not depend on what is in their pocket because they can, if they so choose, eat an exhorbitant amount of fries, cakes and burgers donated by food retailers to charity organizations just before their sale-by date, given they know the charity's location and turn up on time.

Fact of the matter is, in light of all this glaring evidence, rates of a medical condition associated with a lifesyle typical of the affluent west cannot rise as rapidly in Africa as they have in the recent past because this is a region where only a fraction of the population can afford the lifestyle held responsible for the condition. A better explanation needs to be sought.

Acquired Genetic Susceptibility (AGS)

By merely adding the passage of time and process to the argument, we have shown that it is ridiculous to claim a group of people in the infant stages of a process of adopting an alien culture would overtake that same alien culture in rates of a medical condition, such as hypertension, associated with a lifestyle germain to the alien culture. There have to be factors causing the anomaly and genetic susceptibility to hypertension cannot be one of them when the same factor of time is taken into consideration. In Africa, this manifestation is restricted to the present. Genetic susceptibility to a condition is permanent and should as such be notable as a factor causing the same medical condition in the present as well as the past.

Rates of Hypertension in Africa have increased exponentially over the past decades alone and if susceptibility has helped raise the numbers, then its impact is also recent. Given doctors, specialists and scientists are unanimous susceptibility is just another of the factors contributing to the rise in rates of not just hypertension, but diabetes as well, and that lifestyle is the major cause, the conclusion should be drawn that this susceptibility is acquired, that it is also new to the people of the African continent.

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