Guinea celebrates victory over Ebola with concert

  • 27/09/2015

Thousands of Guineans celebrated the country reaching the final stages of the battle with the deadly Ebola epidemic at a concert featuring artists from across Africa.

The tropical virus has killed more than 11,000 people in west Africa - 2500 of them in Guinea - since it emerged in the country's southern forests in December 2013.

But with Liberia declared free of transmission, and Guinea and Sierra Leone registering just three and six cases respectively in September, life is returning to normal in all three countries.

Entitled Ebola: All Together towards victory, the free open-air concert in the capital Conakry featured around a dozen Guinean artists including Soul Bang's, Sia Tolno and Banlieuz'art.

Ivorian hip hop group Kiff No Beat also performed, as well as Nigerian rapper WizKid and singer Denise, from Madagascar, with the crowd predicted to peak at around 25,000.

WizKid, 25, said he was singing to "encourage the healthcare warriors on the ground", rallying the audience to "stamp out Ebola with song".

"We are singing for humanitarianism and it's free. We are participating in our own way to comfort families, people in tears and orphans who have no support," Denise told AFP.

The event, broadcast on Guinean television, was staged by Paris-based international media group Vivendi, which owns a number of businesses including French TV channel and movie producer Canal+.

"Vivendi wants to pay tribute to remarkable efforts from the Guinean government and the World Health Organisation in their continuous fight against the Ebola outbreak," the company said ahead of the concert.

Earlier in September Guinea notched up a week without a single new case of Ebola, its first since March 2014, and the country has been able to announce presidential elections for October 11.

Despite positive signs that an end to the epidemic is within reach, the United Nations has repeatedly warned against complacency, including in the international community.

The outbreak "is not finished by a long shot", Bruce Aylward, the head of the UN's response to the epidemic, told reporters in Geneva earlier this month.

He added that vigilance in the three hardest-hit countries would be essential through to the end of 2016, as the virus is embedded within the area's animal population.