Searching for the next Ebola in the Congo Basin

by Elaisha Stokes, AlJazeera

KISANGANI, Democratic Republic of Congo — At a crowded stall hidden deep in the the city’s central market, a group of women hover over charred pieces of meat. They call out to the passing shoppers: $4 for an antelope, $6 for the thigh of a bushpig. For $10, you can purchase an entire monkey. Officially, the sale of bush meat is illegal, and when the market chief walks by, the women quickly shove their wares into tattered plastic bags hidden behind the concrete slab tables.

“I sell everything,” says Motumbe Marie Biako, who has been a vendor at this particular stall for the last 10 years. “Usually I have monkey, wild pig, antelope, python. Even bat. But I’m not selling bat today.”

The sale of bush meat, she laments, has slowed. Not because it’s illegal to purchase, but because a constant stream of programming on the local radio station has convinced Biako’s customers that they are better off eating more typical dinner fare, like chicken or beef.

“People are saying, ‘Ebola, Ebola,’ ” she sighs. “I’m eating it. My family has been eating it for generations. How come I don’t have Ebola?” According to Biako, monkey is the sweetest meat, and if Ebola gets her, it won’t be from eating a primate.   Read the entire story.

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