The second season of Al Jazeera’s award-winning Africa Investigates kicked off on Wednesday, 12 November 2014, asking whether the Liberian government is making the Ebola crisis worse.
“This groundbreaking series gives some of Africa’s best journalists the opportunity to pursue high-level investigative targets across the continent – using their unique perspective and local knowledge to put corruption, exploitation and abuse under the spotlight,” says Al Jazeera English’s executive producer Diarmuid Jeffreys, who adds that the first season’s Spell of The Albino won a One World Media Award and was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award.
In the first episode of the second season, Liberia: Living with Ebola, Sierra Leone’s Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody winner Sorious Samura teams up with Liberian investigative journalist Mae Azango, a winner of International Press Freedom Awards from both The Committee to Protect Journalists and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Working together, the pair explores the reality of living through the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic, which has killed nearly 5 000 people in eight nations.
Sorious and Mae film with a Red Cross body collection team who risk their lives travelling around Monrovia picking up the dangerously contagious corpses of the deceased. They also spend time in an Ebola treatment unit run by Medecins Sans Frontieres and follow emergency response teams working in the Red Light slum, one of Monrovia’s poorest and most densely populated districts.
Some of these Red Cross workers are unpaid volunteers, like Robert. “I’m doing this to have this particular sickness alleviated from my country,” he says. “I love my people.”
But Sorious and Mae also encounter deep anger among Liberian health workers. Most receive $280 a month for jobs that bring them into daily, dangerous contact with Ebola victims. Many are suspicious that government corruption is preventing the distribution of money donated by the international community.
“This remarkable film gives a deeply disturbing insight into what it is like to live in a society gripped by dread of contagion and mistrust of the authorities, a place where no-one shakes hands any more, where a mother will think twice before picking up a sick child to give it comfort,” says Diarmuid. “But it is also a world in which ordinary people are making the most extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of their community – and indeed the rest of us. If the fight against this deadly virus is to be won, then it is in places like Liberia’s slums where Ebola must be overcome.“
As in 2011, Africa Investigates is produced in collaboration with the Emmy-winning investigative team at Insight TWI: The World Investigates. Liberia: Living With Ebola is directed by Clive Patterson and features original music composed by Grammy Award winner Daniel Platzman.