This is another article from Mr. Chimezi Agwu. Please read on: The man was a successful businessman and a prominent politician. One day, he was returning from abroad, and the members of his family and party stalwarts thronged the airport to welcome him. In the course of hugging and exchanging of pleasantry, he slumped and before anyone could bat an eyelid his lifeless body had metamorphosed into a useless heap on the ground. His relations and onlookers were aghast. Some hours later, under breaking news, the radio announced that the man died after a ‘brief illness’.
Some years ago, one night, a popular musician in Lagos State, slumped on the stage while receiving applause for a spectacular performance. He was rushed immediately to a nearby hospital. The following morning, the daily news-papers were awash with the news of his death. It was later gathered, however that he did not. He recovered from the shock but it brought his musical career to an end.
Another man was not as fortunate as he was. He was driving home, in his car, at the close of work and stopped at an unusual long traffic holdup. When the road was free, he remained on the same spot until the traffic officials forced the door of his car open. They discovered that he was no longer alive. It was revealed later that he died after a ‘brief illness.’
In a recent time, a young man went to bed in what was described as good health but could not wakeup the following morning. His wife raised an alarm. Their neighbours gathered, and he was rushed to different hospitals. The doctors’ verdicts were the same, that the young man, a father of two, was dead. It left their neighbours dumb-founded.
‘Men of God’ are not spared from the embarrassment of death ‘after a brief illness’ also. Some of them were known to have died after slumping in the pulpit or on a crusade ground. Some football enthusiasts have slumped and died in their homes while watching a football match. Such deaths were also anchored on ‘brief illness.’
The spate of death ‘after a brief illness’ nowadays, makes one to wonder if what is usually referred to as a ‘brief illness’ was actually brief. I was in my village in Abia State during the last Christmas and the New Year Celebrations. One can imagine my consternation when I returned to Lagos in the second week of January and shortly after, I received the sad news that some of those I interacted with at home, had died after my departure, not by accident but after a ‘brief illness’. Much as death, the ‘grim reaper’, is unpredictable, and will come when it will come (my apology to Shakespeare), we must however tell ourselves some home truths. The average Nigerian believes in self-medication and bothers only to go to the hospital in most-extreme cases. We do not seem to place much value on life. When my wife and I went to England, some years ago, we travelled by road in a public transport from Manchester to London. It was a journey of about five hours. Half way into the journey, our driver pulled over by the roadside. He left the bus and another driver walked in and drove us to London. It was the same arrangement when we were returning to Manchester.
The change of drivers, we were told, was to prevent stress on the driver, when making long journeys, and thus avoid accidents that could put passengers’ lives at jeopardy. Back home in Nigeria, there is no such consideration for drivers or passengers. On Friday March 15, 2019, my mother in-law passed on at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) at the age of 96. Do not ask me if it was after a brief illness.
The Driver that conveyed her corpse in an ambulance to Isuikwuato in Abia State, left by 4p.m. on March 16, and drove at a break-neck speed. He reached the destination by 2a.m the following day. After discharging his ‘cargo’, he made a u-turn, and left for Lagos that same night. His consideration was not life but the money he was going to make. If in the course of that the so-called unexpected happened to him, it would be blamed on ‘brief illness’.
Many Nigerians are not wary of stress until they are broken down completely. That is why much thought is not given to rest or relaxation in planning their daily routine. Some office workers do not like to go on vacation. They will accumulate rather their vacation or monetize it, instead of resting. Where some job schedules are considered more lucrative than the others, those handling them are reluctant to go on leave, fearing that the person, standing-in for him, will discover the ‘hidden treasures’ there. At death due to stress, someone takes it over. Oyibos can sacrifice anything but not their vacation, which to them, is a time for fun and resting.
It is for similar reasons that some workers, who are overdue for retirement, still hang on though their output may be dwindling, until they slump in the office. Some politicians scheme for tenure elongation at the expense of their physical fitness, thereby inviting death after a ‘brief illness’.
The Holy Bible makes us to know that the Almighty God rested on the seventh day after finishing His creation – Gen 2:2. He further commanded us in Exodus 20:8-11 to rest on the Sabbath day. If the Author of life Himself rested, and ordered us to do so, should we, mere mortals, not comply?
That our hands and legs are seemingly moving normally is no proof that we are okay. A problem may be lurking in the body, and one day, may deal us a lethal blow if undetected by doctors. On March 16, 2006, the present Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Sun newspaper, Robert Obioha, in his article, ‘At 40, watch that tokunbo heart’, wrote: “At 40 and above, you can no longer run the engine (heart) on full throttle. At this stage, the heart like a second-hand engine (tokunbo) has been weaned of all youthfulness and agility possessed by only the young in age and at heart”. He added, “Overuse of your sexual power at this stage, can be counter-productive and can lead to fainting and sudden death”.
Some Pastors are not helping matters by discouraging their members from going for medical checkups or from taking drugs. Contrary to this, people should know their health status at all times by going for medical checkups frequently. This will reduce the number of those moving about as walking corpses, and it will bring down the figure of deaths often associated ignorantly with ‘brief illness.’
By Chimezie Agwu, a retired Bank Manager:07082882568.
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471; [email protected]