Food and vaccines: The holes we have dug ourselves into

Wednesday September 29 2021
food aid

Women sit with their rations after receiving relief food at an IDP camp in northern Somalia. PHOTO | AFP


This week will carry “World Day” for the proper use of food. It speaks to the unacceptable paradox between the starving millions of human beings juxtaposed to the huge amounts of food wasted every day by those who may have never heard of the plight of the former.

The day (September 29) is called International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction.

Following all the talk surrounding this problematic, I could not avoid thinking of the other mind-twister that has installed itself in our midst just recently, the one that has been spawned by the latest coronavirus — Covid-19. I am talking about, on the one hand what has been termed vaccine nationalism, and on the other, vaccine scepticism.

Whereas the math and the politics in this phenomenon can be quite complex, still it is possible to subsume it in the centuries-old quiz that has asked us whether the fool who is thirsty in the abundance of water is necessarily responsible for his demise if he does not know that he is actually surrounded by water, or if the idiot who lets himself die of corona is culpable for his own death if the shamanism of his governors has so corrupted his psyche that he thinks he can play dice with the virus.

Cost of waste

Concerning food, when one looks at the figures of the cost of hunger as compared to the cost of waste, it looks almost as if it is plainly possible to eliminate the former by deploying the latter dressed as a solution. In fact, if the two extremes were to be brought together, the world would walk away with substantial change in its pocket.


We know that waste comes from surfeit, stupid surfeit at that, because eating too much, or too richly, will necessarily mean that certain sections of the offending society will suffer from preventable diseases.

It is quite disconcertingly interesting that it is in those same societies where food is thrown away that some people worry about how much they or how they look, spend fortunes trying to starve themselves into thinner bodies. Would it be helpful if the societies with people trying to starve themselves were brought together with those who can hardly keep body and soul together?

Right now the world is eager to counteract this pandemic that has proved itself to be totally unpredictable.

As I write there seems to be a faint light at the end of the tunnel, though for all we know it could be a train coming our way.

For, who knows what new variant will steal another show on us, or what new totally novel virus could piggyback on this one and wreak some more havoc?

All these existential threats against humanity profit from the assistance they receive from humankind’s own worst enemy, humans.

With all its gigantic strides in scientific discovery, the world has not managed to equip itself with wiser governors and operators to run its expansive systems.

The world has built impressive citadels of learning we call universities without being able to stop dangerous students from graduating and going on to pollute fellow humans with their distorted minds.

Killer virus

In our neck of the woods we still have to struggle to convince our “elites” that they have to vaccinate against a killer virus, after a period in which our PhDs saw people dying and refused to accept that what they were seeing was indeed death.

Now, those who had convinced some of our brighter members of society that the virus had been chased from our shores are the ones telling us the very opposite and they sound bewildered that no one is believing them.

A meathead preacher in Dar is sticking by his guns claiming corona has been chased away with prayer, and his ruling party apparatus is castigating and threatening him with sanctions, for a stance they themselves helped spread all of last year.

I say to them that though this particular preacher is as mad as the proverbial monk, he is not any madder than his fellow members who banded with him last year.

But now, we are forced to consider what needs to be done in the midst of all this madness which could easily plunge us into a cataclysmic self-destruction.

Food and vaccines are going to be at the top of our global deliberations, and we are all in this together. If more than half the globe is starving while the rest are throwing food away, the starving part will continue trekking to the overfed world.

Richer countries

And, if vaccine nationalism persists, and richer countries do their “boosters” when the poorer nations cannot even do the first vaccines for all their citizens, the inhabitants of the Third World will continue serving as hosts to vectors that will not die out, because they keep on duplicating.

Now, what of those who simply refuse to vaccinate, and who could be a real danger to the “rest of society”? In fact, what id the “rest of society” actually refers to those who have embraced vaccines? Think about it.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]