Life in Wuhan: An African student reflects on months of forced isolation


Play episode:

Although there’s no precise number, it’s widely believed there are around 4,600 African students in Wuhan who have not been able to go home amid the COVID-19 epidemic. Some have struggled mightily over the past few months dealing with their fear of being infected, as well as the loneliness of forced isolation and of being a foreigner in a country far away from friends and family.

Their ordeal and calls for their evacuation have been widely covered in the African media, but now, with the crisis ebbing in China and escalating back home, it seems increasingly improbable that they will be repatriated by their governments. Instead, they’re just going to have to ride out the remainder of the quarantine period in the hope that the virus truly has retreated in China.

One would think that this difficult experience might have tainted how these students view China. But Michael Addaney, a doctoral researcher at the Wuhan University School of Law and the vice president of the local chapter of the Ghanaian Students Association, said that, actually, it’s the other way around. He’s been impressed with how the Chinese have handled the crisis, and at the same time, has felt abandoned by his own people back home, many of whom were fearful of him and other African students who planned on returning to Africa from China.

Michael joins Eric and Cobus from Wuhan to talk about his experience living under quarantine in the epicenter and what daily life has been like for him and so many other African students there.