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This is a linkpost for https://youtu.be/ljmifo4Klss

This video is an animation of 500 Million, But Not A Single One More, by @jai 

Some notes for the curious about the cult of Sopona, the god of Smallpox of the Yoruba people

When I was getting feedback on the storyboard from Jai, he mentioned that there is an actual god of Smallpox: Sopona. We decided to use it to lightly inspire our design by adding a mask similar to the ones found in wooden statues representing the god. 

Apparently, in Nigeria there were cults of Sopona that strongly opposed vaccination. At the bottom-left paragraph at this link, there's an interesting story. Dr. O. Sapara, a Nigerian physician, infiltrated "the sopono cult", described as a large secret society in western Nigeria that used to cause smallpox outbreaks to generate clients to "cure" and to follow-up on blackmails. Sapara infiltrated the society and helped the government ban the cult as an illegal organization. After the cult was banned worship of the God continued. 

Jai rightly mentioned the priests of the cult as a striking example of the most hollow humans allying with the enemy.


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The last person to have a case of smallpox, Ali Maow Maalin, dedicated years of his life to eradicating polio in the region.

On July 22nd 2013, he died of Malaria, while traveling again after polio had been reintroduced.

Fantastic video – I'm really impressed with how you managed to match the high quality of the text. Thanks a lot for such great work!

Minor feedback about this post: I think the photo of the Yoruba folks might be a bit misleading in the context of this post, and I wouldn't include it. My sense is that the religion is followed by millions, that the radical smallpox-inoculation cult was quite fringe, and that the body painting of white dots doesn't have anything to do with smallpox. It doesn't seem fair to me to associate the whole religion and the folks in that photo with such a radical, harmful cult.

I think the photo of the Yoruba folks might be a bit misleading in the context of this post, and I wouldn't include it.

I'm not entirely sure If I agree, but I removed them out of abundance of caution. 

Edit: yeah, you are correct actually. 

Nice. If you're looking for a follow-up, Jai's essays What Almost Was and The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics are also great. 

Edit: link fixed

I'd like to apologize for "What Almost Was" being a dead link now - I've been trying to retire that blog for a while now while preserving the content elsewhere. "What Almost Was" can now be found here.

This is my search optimisation brain talking, but I'd change the title to reference smallpox directly.

"Ending Smallpox: 500 Million, But Not A Single One More"

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