Sunday, November 19, 2017
SMUGGLED BUSHMEAT IS EBOLA'S BACK DOOR TO AMERICA.Less than three miles from Yankee Stadium, the colorful storefronts of African markets lining the Grand Concourse are some of the first signs of a bustling Bronx community that includes immigrants from those West African nations hit hardest by the recent and unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus. We are here today looking for bushmeat, the butchered harvest of African wildlife, and an ethnic delicacy in West African expatriate communities all over the world. A turbaned woman smiles vividly when we enter one small market with canned goods displayed in its window, but the light in her eyes immediately dims when we ask about bushmeat. Shrugging, looking away, she says she knows nothing about it and then, after a moment’s calculation, asks us to repeat the word, as if she didn’t understand what we had said. #bushmeat Paa George Appiah is from Ghana, but has been living in New York for 10 years. A former GNC employee, he sidesteps questions about his current work status, but is cheery and candid when it comes to bushmeat. “Akarnte is the best, my favorite,” he tells us. Akarnte, he explains, is a type of “grass-cutter.” His brief curbside mimicry of buckteeth suggests a large rabbit, but the grass-cutter is in fact a large rodent, more commonly called a “cane rat” in the U.S. Cane rats are similar in appearance to a guinea pig, prized as a source of protein throughout Ghana and other parts of West Africa, and officially unavailable anywhere in the United States. #bushmeat Bushmeat, which can range from bat to monkey to lion, including a number of endangered species, is beloved by many African-born Americans, despite the fact that it is illegal in the U.S. In the Bronx, the high price (up to $100 for six or seven pounds, Appiah tells us) attached to bushmeat (or viande de brousse, as it is known in the French-speaking world) indicates a luxury indulgence in the same way illegally imported caviar might for Russian émigrés in Brooklyn.