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International Lightning Safety Day,
28 June 2021,
was observed by lightning safety advocates from 41 countries.
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Newsletter Content:
Lead Story, Editors' Note 
'Tell your story'
Lightning Folklore
Lightning events reported for June

Video: Lightning Injuries while caring for Animals or Fishing 
Tarmac Voodoo: Plane Struck By Lightning Exorcized After Landing
The Ethiopian Airlines plane that regularly serves the New York-Lomé route, was hit by lightning just before landing June 20 at the airport in Togo's capital. Slightly damaged and unable to take off again, a group of voodoo priests were called in to exorcize the plane the following day.
The ceremony consisted of splashing the plane with water and pouring liquor as an offering to appease the anger of Hiébiésso, the "divinity of thunder" in Mina, a local language spoken in South Togo. 
Link to video of part of the cleansing ceremony
Read more

On June 28, people from 41 countries and six continents commemorated International Lightning Safety Day (ILSD2021), marking the tenth anniversary of the day 18 children plus their teacher were killed by a single lightning strike at Runyanya primary school in Uganda in 2011. Stephane Schmitt of Meteorage, based in France, volunteered to lead and did an excellent job, assisted by ACLENet, in mobilizing all the groups, organizations, and individuals involved in promoting lightning safety across the globe.
A global community of lightning safety advocates is emerging.

Meanwhile, as we all prepared for ILSD-2021, back in Africa, a story went viral. Ethiopian Airlines, a recognized leader in African enterprise for many decades, was highlighted on Twitter and YouTube when a local civil aviation official in Togo, Lt. Col. Gnama, supervised a voodoo ‘cleansing ceremony’ for its plane after it had been hit by lightning before landing at Togo  international airport on June 20. This ceremony was to chase away ‘the spirit of thunder’. We are told that repairs on the plane were also done before it could fly again, though pictures of the damage and repairs could not be accessed. Airplanes are hit so often by lightning (every year or two on average) that airlines have guidelines for checking planes for damage before they are allowed to fly again. 

When we inquired of Ethiopian Airlines, the corporate office denied being informed or involved before the 'cleansing' was done.
Misinformation, and worse, misrepresentations about lightning protection and safety in the media and public domain is dangerous because it can actually increase the risk of injury by confusing the public about the effect their own actions have on their personal safety. Spiritual causation, implied by a cleansing ceremony to chase away the ‘spirit of thunder,’ makes people feel out of control and hopeless to prevent injury. Also, it implies that technical repairs and rituals are alternative forms of lightning protection. In the absence of one, the second alternative can work, but where both can be performed, the better.

We are still living in a global pandemic of covid-19 where we have learned the impacts of confused public safety messaging. Lack of clarity and denigration of science, in simple messaging like wearing of masks or vaccinations, creates confused responses which leads to increased risks. We need to be alert to promote lightning safety based on science not folklore and myths. At ACLENet, we aim to continue our focus on addressing the misinformation and misrepresentation concerning lightning.

Know the Facts - Be Prepared, Not Scared!
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Miseke Marries the God of Thunder
There was once a woman from Rwanda who was Kwisaba’s wife. Many months had passed since she had seen her husband who left to join the war. One day, while she was alone in the hut, she became ill and felt so weak that she couldn’t stand and build fire. She then burst into tears and shouted her hopelessness, 'Oh, what should I do? If only someone could split the wood and build a fire for me. I’m going to die from the cold! If only someone would really come – even if it’s the Thunder from heaven!'

When she finally calmed down and stopped crying, oblivious of where the words she let go would take her, a cloud appeared in the sky. More clouds gathered until the sky turned dark. It became like night and she heard roaring thunder from afar. Then lightning tore the sky apart, revealing Thunder standing in front of her with a man-like form, a shining axe in his hand.

In the blink of an eye, with one blow of the axe, the wood split, stacked, and ignited. When the wood caught flame, he turned to the woman and said, 'Now, wife of Kwisaba, what should you give me in return?' She stiffened and turned pale, speechless as the Thunder continued, 'By the time you bear your first child, a daughter, you will give her to me and become my wife.'
 Read more.
African Lightning Events Reported in June
Labé : Lightning injures 3 people in Tata 2

23 June 2021
Read more
Ethiopian airlines B787 Dreamliner aircraft was hit by lightning
25 June 2021
Read more
A lightning makes damage in Faranah: A death and three injured

26 June 2021
Read more

Lightning Injuries while caring for Animals or Fishing
Ronald L. Holle, AMS101-10MALD meeting

For video of lightning across Africa,
Click to read past Newsletters
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