Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

The man who hated hospital

Emeka Chibuikem V.
Enugu State, Nigeria

A rural village without a hospital
Our Beautiful Life. “Rural life in Katsina State, Nigeria” photo by Yusuff Suleiman on Wikimedia. 2018. CC BY-SA 4.0.

An emergency patient was in critical condition. The staff nurse on duty moved swiftly to attend to him. Then she went to the waiting hall to meet with the patient’s family and asked them why they had waited so long before bringing him to the hospital. They stared at her, surprised. “It was his choice,” the man’s first wife replied. And nobody said anything further.

The man in this emergency was Alhaji Adamu. He was a very wealthy man and a core Muslim from Katakata town. But he was part of the illiterate group who detested western civilization. He never allowed his children to go to school; all they ever studied was the Quran in the central Mosque. He had four wives and twenty-one children—fourteen sons and seven daughters. His last wife had no children. She was the same age as his last daughter Amina who was just eleven years old.

Like all his ancestors, Alhaji Adamu lived a local-rich life. He was a chief farmer and a chief herder, with vast farmlands and thousands of cows. He divided his sons into two family labor factions, seven were herdsmen, the other seven were farmers. They spoke Hausa and Pidgin-English fluently.

Alhaji Adamu was a household-name in his town. He was highly respected. He was the richest, most religious, and most charitable personality in Katakata. His words were final; no one dared to ever question him. Whatever he said was true in his gullible town; they saw him as the representative of Prophet Mohammed on earth.

In Katakata, cows had more value and worth than women. To them, a cow did the same function as a woman: giving birth. Wives worshipped their husbands more than Allah. A man alone could pass any judgement on his wife and it was never questioned. All that was needed for a man to divorce his wife was for him to declare in the presence of three witnesses—“I divorce you, I divorce you, and I divorce you.” And the woman left his house without her children shamefully, never to return. It was a status lower than a widow. The unmarried were plenty, but nobody ever glanced at a divorcee as she was regarded as a prostitute and an infidel. As such, a wife never dared to question her husband. She knew that she could be divorced for no reason, let alone when there was a reason. Obedience was greater than sacrifice.

Alhaji Adamu had never been sick for more than three days. Each time he was sick, he would mix some herbs and roots, cook them, and drink. This traditional way of treatment was wide-spread in their town. All attempts to build a hospital in Katakata failed. The people were comfortable in their ignorance and turned their backs to progress.

Death was believed an “act of God” in Katakata. The dead were buried within twenty-four hours. Many died from lack of good care, some children died from polio and malaria. Yet, the people maintained their stance against civilization. They held to a primitive belief system. They looked-up to Alhaji Adamu who never looked further than his local town.

As a devoted Muslim, Alhaji Adamu never drank alcohol. But he smoked a lot of tobacco. His sons did too. His wives had advised him to quit smoking because he was already in his seventies. But Alhaji Adamu remained adamant. He suffered from tuberculosis and never quit smoking. He took daily early-morning herbal medicine for his incessant cough. His wives and children advised him to go to hospital but he declined.

That fateful morning, Alhaji Adamu’s tuberculosis had worsened. He coughed out blood on each loud cough. The previous night, no one slept in his house, the entire family were gathered and awake. They feared he might die that night, and they prayed ceaselessly to Allah to have mercy on him. Then, Alhaji Adamu’s sons went behind his back and arranged for him to be transported to the city hospital.

Alhaji Adamu found out about their plans, and was okay with it to the surprise of his family. He was afraid to die. He did not want to lose his family and his riches. So, he accepted being taken to hospital.

It was half past ten in the night when they reached the hospital. Alhaji Adamu was too weak to walk and his sons carried him like a baby out of the vehicle. In the process, he collapsed in their hands and they ran like mad cows screaming, “Help, help, help.” The nurses on duty rushed to help him to their emergency table. An oxygen mask was immediately placed on him, as they hurried him to the emergency room.

Alhaji Adamu’s sons kept asking to see the doctor, but the nurses told them that the only doctor in the hospital was out treating another emergency in a far distant town. It was very late in the night; the doctor was expected to be around the next morning. They did not trust the nurses to treat their father better because they were women. They believed that women were no good outside of procreation, pleasure, and household chores. Yet, they had no other choice than to place the life of their father in the hands of the same women they devalued.

The morning of the next day brought hope to Alhaji Adamu and his family. He had regained consciousness, and his cough was better. He woke to see himself being cared for by nurses. He was shocked beyond belief; it was as if angels were treating him in heaven because he saw the nurses in impeccable white uniforms. He requested to see his family at once. He could not believe his eyes; he wanted to be sure he was still on earth.

After a week of treatment, Alhaji Adamu was discharged and given the necessary drugs for his illness. He thanked the nurses immensely for saving his life. He made three promises right there in the hospital. First, he would apologize and lead his town the right way. Secondly, his last daughter Amina would go to school and study nursing. Lastly, he would build a school and a hospital in Katakata town. Alhaji Adamu left the hospital a true believer of western civilization.

EMEKA CHIBUIKEM V. is a Nigerian writer, poet, political scientist, research analyst, lyricist, actor, and human rights activist. He is the former Corresponding Editor of Lumen Magazine, St. John-Cross Seminary Nsukka (2007-2008), Editor-in-Chief of Political Science Press and Critique Board, Political Science Department, University of Nigeria Nsukka (2015-2016). His Awards includes Best Writer (2009) from St. John-Cross Seminary Nsukka, Outstanding Writer (2016) Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria Nsukka. Best Legislator (2016) Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria Nsukka. Emeka is the Amazon Author of The Secret Thoughts of a Prodigal Mind (Revolutionised Twenty-first Century Poetry), True Truth, and The Legitimate Bastard. He is a writer at talkingmoney.com.ng, Naijaffairs.com, and Operanewshub.com.

Highlighted in Frontispiece Volume 13, Issue 4 – Fall 2021

Summer 2021



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