President Obasanjo, Graça Machel and singer Akon among 51 signatories of an open citizens call to action against Ebola

In an open letter, former heads of state and celebrities as well as leaders from civil society and business launch a petition call for more solidarity and a more coordinated approach to deal with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Please sign the petition!

London, 2nd September 2014 – In a letter published in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites across Africa, leaders of civil society and business have called for more solidarity and a more coordinated approach to deal with the recent Ebola outbreak.

Ebola is having a great economic and social impact, more so in the young democracy Liberia, which has come out of a long and debilitating civil war. The response has often been knee-jerk and counterproductive, such as the closing of borders and cancellation of flights, something which both the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have denounced.

This call for action, which through a petition has so far attracted 51 signatories with the numbers increasing, calls for all citizens to play their role and demands a coordinated and rational response from African governments and international institutions.

High profile leaders such as former Presidents Mkapa of Tanzania and Obasanjo of Nigeria have signed the petition, as well as Graça Machel, civil society leader and wife of the late President Mandela, the singer and former Minister Youssour N’Dour and a number of prominent leaders and personalities from music, media and business.


Open letter published in newspapers, magazines and websites across Africa:

Citizens Call to Action against Ebola

As the Ebola virus becomes an overwhelming human catastrophe affecting public health, social institutions and economic well-being in Africa, we stand in solidarity with our fellow citizens in the countries victimized by this deadly disease.

We also thank and salute the local and international health workers who are risking their lives daily, intervening on the ground to eradicate the scourge of Ebola, often without access to gloves and other protective supplies.

We acknowledge and applaud the decision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) health ministers to call for the lifting of travel bans to Ebola affected countries, which are hampering the fight against Ebola and restricting the arrival of essential expertise and equipment, as well as fuel to provide electricity, medications to treat other deadly diseases such as malaria and food to prevent famine.

In the name and interest of our common humanity, we are collectively launching this urgent Citizens’ Call to Action.

We call on our respective Heads of State and Government to avoid full embargo against Ebola-affected states. While we understand the legitimate concerns for the protection of their population, we remind African leaders of their obligation to pan-African solidarity and the global community of their humanitarian obligations in emergencies. We urge the following immediate actions:

  1. Ensure that the flow of essential assistance can reach those in need, while maintaining economic activity necessary for sustaining life in cities and villages, by

    Authorizing and implementing the local recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO)
    Acknowledging the impossibility of quarantining entire nations and instead establish much-needed economic and humanitarian corridors of access – essential life-lines – both within the affected countries and between countries.

  2. We call on African opinion leaders – including artists, athletes, filmmakers, writers, journalists, academics – to initiate or to actively take part in public information campaigns on prevention and transmission of the Ebola. These can happen via road-shows, film screenings, theatrical pieces, discussion groups, and the distribution of messages via cellphone networks. And we call upon global opinion leaders to add their talents and voices in support.
  3. We call on the broad private sector, the pharmaceutical industry, and the research community, in particular, to fund, facilitate and make immediately available access to all known methods of prevention and treatment of this menacing threat to our global well-being.

    Join the call by signing the petition at

    Signed on August 31, 2014

    Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

    Benjamin Mkapa, Former President of Tanzania

    Mrs Graca Machel, President, Foundation for Community Development

    Bineta Diop , Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, African Union

    Youssou N’Dour, Singer

    Ali Mufuruki, InfoTech Investment Group

    Kandeh Yumkella, Chairman, UN-Energy and former Director-General

    Zainab Bangura, Special Representative, UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict

    Ashish Thakkar, Founder, MARA Group

    AKON, Singer

    Frannie Leautier, Founder, Mkoba Group

    Wendy Luhabe, Africa Chairperson, Cartier Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs

    Dele Olojede, Journalist, Pulitzer Prize Winner

    Amadou Mahtar Ba, Executive Chairman and Co Founder, AllAfrica Global Media

    Akere Muna, Presiding Officer, AU Economic, Social and Cultural Council

    Mamadou Toure, Founder, Africa 2.0

    Thelma Awori, Chair, Institute for Social Transformation, and former UNDP Director

    Angelle Kwemo, Founder & Chair, Believe in Africa

    Linus Gitahi, CEO, Nation Media Group

    Prof. Ousmane Kane, Harvard University

    Ebrima Sall, Executive Secretary, CODESRIA

    Slim Othmani. CEO, NCA-Rouiba, and Chairman, Algeria Business Council

    Prof. Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Columbia University

    Prof. Alioune Sall, Director, African Futures Institute, South Africa

    Prof. Mamadou Diouf, Columbia University

    Trevor Ncube, Deputy Executive Chair, Mail&Guardian

    Omar Ben Yedder, Group Publisher and Managing Director, IC Publications

    Oulimata Sarr, Country Coordinator, IFC Advisory Services

    Férial Haffajee, Editor In Chief, City Press

    Zyad Limam, Director, Afrique Magazine

    Aminata Forna, Professor of creative writing and award-winning author

    Mahen Bonetti, Founder & Executive Director, African Film Festival, Inc.

    Fatou Wurie, Activist

    Aliou Goloko, CEO, Goal Communication

    Reed Kramer, CEO, AllAfrica Global Media

    Aly Leno, Président, Union des Journalistes Culturels et Animateurs de Guinée )

    Tidiane Soumah, PDG, Todoane World Music

    Dr Tendai Mhizha, CEO, Integra Africa

    Samba Bathily, PDG, ADS

    Prof. Cheikh Ibrahima Niang, UCAD

    Prof. Penda Mbow, UCAD

    Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o, former minister, Kenya

    Dr Tami Hultman, CEO, AllAfrica Foundation

    Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur, Women Human Rights in Africa

    Harriette Williams Bright, Femmes Africa Solidarité
    Isham Elgar, Olympic and World Champion

    Younes Maamar CEO, Eone Investments

    Prof. Fatima Harrak, President CODESRIA, Mohamed V Souissi, University.

    Prof. Kwadwo Ansah Koram, Director, Noguchi Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Legon

    Prof. Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor, University of Witwatersrand

    Prof. Olive Shisana, CEO, Human Sciences Research Council

    Prof. Suren Pilley, University of Western Cape

    Note to Editors:

    You are free to quote and/or republish the Citizens Call for Action. If you are to republish the Open Letter, please do so in its entirety.

    For more information contact Amadou Mahtar Ba on :