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From Ebola in native Guinea to COVID-19 in Mass., musician accustomed to viruses

Holyoke, Massachusetts, resident Alpha Kabinet Kaba was no stranger to pandemic when COVID-19 arrived in the United States. The native of Guinea saw his home country ravaged by Ebola in 2014 and lost three relatives to that contagious virus. A new outbreak of Ebola in Guinea this year appears linked to that original outbreak in 2014.

On Mondays, And Another Thing focuses on interviews with a single guest about challenges the guest has faced and what the person has learned. Our guest this episode is Alpha Kabinet Kaba, who traveled home to Guinea months before the Ebola outbreak in western Africa. He is better known in western Massachusetts musical circles as Bisko.

Bisko’s return to his homeland, accompanied by some of his American students, came 15 years after he left.

It was my student meeting my family, my mom, brothers and sisters to see where I came from and to witness everything that had been shared with them in person in Guinea. So that was a big special thing for me. And then 15 years later, to go see my mom,” Bisko told And Another Thing.

Not long after Bisko returned to this country, Guinea saw the first signs of the Ebola spread. A few months later three of the relatives he visited, including his mother, had died.

When COVID-19 arrived, Bisko would be on the telephone with his family in Africa nearly every day reminding everyone of the precautions they should take.

“I have to like, remind them because I don't want to go through that again,” he said.

Bisko plans another trip to Guinea in December. He has been raising money and wants to buy open a school and orphanage for the children of people killed by Ebola or COVID-19 on land that he has already purchased.