Africa: Our Mother Land
Like many others, I have asked the question, “How did we get here”? A world so complicated that sometimes I tends to think that we are just like tourist on a stop over, probably still have some more miles to travel before we will sure arrive our destination.
Several years ago, my mother in conjunction with my father gave birth to me in a small village in Nigeria, West Africa. Little do I know that who you are or will be on Earth is directly related to where, when, and to whom you were born. I wish it was possible for a Fetus to choose which uterus to develop at, maybe I could have chosen to develop at the uterus of the wife of a president of one of the developed counties of Europe or America.
Africa, a continent most people in the developed country still imagine if life exist at it, a continent that appears on headline of television broadcast only when there is war, poverty or disease out break. A continent that was so stigmatized by most people in the developed county that they see anybody with African Citizenship as a third class citizen of the world. There I was born
Africa, a continent many who were associated with it do not want to let it go. The land of my fathers and fore-fathers, the Land we all love with passion. They fought and strife to create a better image of Africa to the world than the image they are viewing now. That’s where I was born. Humiliations and embracement most Africans faces when they travel out of Africa, have made many of them to denounce Africa as their home. Just sometime ago, a colleague of mine asked me if there are streets and roads in Africa. I was not annoyed with her, but I rather took some time to make her realize that Africa was and is still home for the brave.
Speaking about hunger, disease and poverty; I have lived them, experienced them but was not trapped by them. In 1990, in small city of Onitsha, I watched my best friend died of Malaria with “smile” on his face. As though that was not enough, I lost two of my soccer teammates to Typhoid Fever in 1995 and 1997 respectively.
It is my utmost desire to save these lives as I watched them struggled in their hospital beds. This I believe, that no matter you were born, no matter where you grew up, no matter what you do for living, no matter whom you are in the society, good health should be a right. My father told me we were born equal, may be he was right but am yet to understand what he meant. One thing I could think is that we were born equal with desire to affect lives in our own way.
As I grew up, graduate from high school to college, my knowledge of disease and their devastating effect keep growing. In year 2000, I started working with Victory Christian Hospital, one of the most popular hospitals in the Eastern Nigeria. His popularity came as a result of their “charity” policy. The directors of this hospital believe that health is a human right and he was ready to save the life of his patients even when they have no money to pay him. One thing I discovered while working at Victory Christian Hospital is that people in Africa did not go to the hospital because they do not feel good; rather, they go to see a Physician because they are scared they might die. Body temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit that could scare someone in America is just normal to some homes in Africa. They simple will use could water and try to cool the person down. That does not mean that they do not like going to the hospital or that their religion prevents them from seeking medical help as most of us in the developed country might think but because apparently, the word “health insurance” does not exist in the dictionary found in Africa, Poverty and hunger apparently snatched the position one on the scale of preference away from health. Its not as if they did not love their life, but there is no resources to show love to life.
As a hospital worker, I watched innocent kids died of illness that could have been prevented. Most of these kids even died at home or on their way to the hospital. I saw pretty but malnutrition kids. It’s a mixed feeling. I saw their fathers cried, and their mothers screened. Many families have to decide between using the last money in their wallet to buy food or to pay for their children to get medical treatment. Day-after-day, as I hear this parents cry and screen in pain for the lost of their children and some times kids screen and cry for the lost of their parents, the sound rings like a bell in my ears even days and weeks after the incident. I dreamt dreams and I woke up same person.
As though these were not enough, in the early 1980s, another un-invited Guest, HIV/AIDS visited Africa. Countries like Kenya, Mozambique, Gambia, South Africa and so many others were devastated as the number of children without parents increased dramatically. In 2007, Christiana Amampour aired a report with caption “Where did their parents go”? There parents died after contracting HIV/AIDS. The situation does not get better when these parents died, rather, hunger, poverty and disease became companion to these children.
I remember one thing my father always say; “You never run away from your home when trouble calls. Africa, what are you going to do at this point? Will you rather run away or adhere to my father’s advice? Africa as a continent will never run away from its territory. It is calling for help. Here I am, I could not bear it no longer. ‘This I believe” according to the words of great and brave African I admire so well, we could be whatever we desire to be, No king, No Prince nor Princess could say no to that. It requires hard work.
I am fortunate to migrate to the United State of America. I count it joy, but did not see my migration as deliverance rather I see it as an opportunity. A opportunity to answer the call of mother land Africa, to come and join the combat team that want to save it from further deterioration.
This I believe that, Public Health Epidemiology, a career I diligently pursue will give me the skill and knowledge I will need to discover, propound, and implement policies that will alleviate poverty, hunger and disease from the face of the Earth to enable mankind breath the breath of life once again.
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