PROTECTION

Maji Maji rebellion and Covid-19 vaccine

Today we do have body armour that can deflect bullets, but in early 1900 this technology was not available.

In Summary

• The way many of us learned history, with a western world lens, means we often hear the story of the Maji Maji rebellion and laugh at how anyone in the right mind could put their lives at risk against the certainty of death by bullets.

• With the bias of looking at the past and interpreting it with today’s knowledge, it can be difficult to appreciate the context that lead to the decisions being made then, how people came to follow Ngwale.

Maji Maji rebellion and Covid-19 vaccine
Maji Maji rebellion and Covid-19 vaccine
Image: OZONE

It is estimated that by the time the Tanzania Maji Maji rebellion ended in early 20th Century, between 250, 000 and 300,000 people had died.

The people who died were up in arms against a tax introduced by the German colonialists. Villages were being tasked to grow cotton for export with quotas set. Furthermore, forced labour was being used to build infrastructure such as roads.

At that time, Kinjikitile Ngwale, a charismatic leader arose, and organised people to believe that they could defy bullets and defeat the Germans.

The way many of us learned history, with a western world lens, means that we often hear the story of the Maji Maji rebellion and laugh at how anyone in the right mind could put their lives at risk against the certainty of death by bullets.

With the bias of looking at the past and interpreting it with today’s knowledge, it can be difficult to appreciate the context that lead to the decisions being made then, how people came to follow Ngwale.

For example, today we do have body armour that can deflect bullets, but in early 1900 this technology was not available. So, what was used was a combination of water, flour mixed with castor oil. And so it is with the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The last major pandemic was in 1917-21 at the tail end of the First World War. No vaccine was available, despite knowledge of vaccination having been around for 2,300 years. It is known that as early as 430 BC, survivors of smallpox were called upon to nurse those afflicted with small pox. Inoculation against small pox, taking some of the pus from a person with small pox and giving it to a healthy person to protect them from ever getting the disease was practiced in Africa, China and India.

Only in the late 18th century did the knowledge and practice of inoculation reach Europe.

Covid-19 is a virus. We know how it spreads, from one human to the next. So if you are not near a human who has it, it cannot spread. It enters the human body mainly through the nose and mouth.

Cover your nose and mouth when near another human being who may have the virus, prevents it from crossing over. If it does make the jump and you have been vaccinated, then your body has at least had time to prepare for the virus and knows what is attacking it and what to do about it. The vaccine buys your body time. The vaccine also takes time to be set up. It is not magic that seeks to fool the virus. It’s proven technology.

The human body’s immune system is divided into two. A rapid response unit, of white blood cells, is found mainly in the blood. They patrol 24-7, looking for any intruder, bacteria or virus.

A lot of the rapid response is around the nose, throat and in the stomach. Much like people hover around Kemsa. Except they are not looking for tenders. When any of the rapid response unit come across something that is not foreign or behaving funny, they act. They do not take bribes. They act, by first swallowing any bacteria or virus that they come across.

Then they die and are expelled from the body. This is what we see as pus if they are many that have died. The process of expulsion is what makes us cough and sneeze. At this point, the rapid response are few in number and so there is a chance that a few virus may escape into a cell, where they cannot be found. Once inside the cell, they multiply and after a bit of time more are released into the blood, where they get to move and infect other cells.

Here is where a vaccine helps. Instead of the general rapid response team, the vaccine helps to create a disease specific response team. They already know what the virus looks like and how it behaves. So, when there is an attack, it is quickly countered, without much fuss.

But for any vaccine to work, it requires time.

Vaccine is not medicine that acts on the virus, but more like your Standard 1 teacher who teaches you how to write. Once you learn, you should know forever how to read and write.

The vaccine teaches your body’s immune response team how to recognise the virus if it enters your body. That training takes three months to complete from the first dose, that is three weeks after the second Covid vaccine dose.