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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Friday, August 03, 2007

Watching Tunde die

Its only a little story but l wrestled with telling it at all. In the end it told itself. His name is Tunde and last Thursday l stood watching him in the sunlight, he drawls his words through mouth slackened and crooked by the accident. Spittle dribbled through his yellowed teeth as the words gurgled out of his mouth. His body is completely emancipated in the manner of the famine survivor stumbling through the gates of a refugee camp. His skeletal finger makes slight jabbing movements seemingly to lend power to his feeble speech. His death mask face is immobile but shockingly his eyes are bright and clear, his manner weak but matter of fact. Those around us stare in confusion, l suspect less at the sight of Tunde but at our manner for we carried on as though in contemplation of the lairy weather. I can smell his ailment even as l leaned closer to him; my face remains expressionless, experience has taught me not to display ineffective sympathy, pity, fear or anger. I focus on the facts even as my core weeps.

Tunde came to me 3 years ago, as a budding freelance sports reporter, he had been in a ghastly accident that broke his ribs and punctured his lungs. When he came he had already been mauled by our ailing health care system and his family impoverished by his travails. He was not so thin then and his mouth was still in front of his face, he is one of the many who come. We turn back the most hopeless cases, harass, beg, and solicit support for the bad cases. The fair cases we solve ourselves, we don’t accept money directly. Tunde’s was hopeless but he is a friend to two boys whom l mentored and who are successful full-fledged sports journalists now so he is like aburo (younger brother) to me. You don’t give up on an aburo.

After 2 years and some operations we were told he only requires a last corrective operation in Luth so we got support for him from Lagos State government who part paid directly for the operation, case closed or so l thought.

Many of the people who are assisted never come back to me, they don’t need to, the knowledge that they are on their feet again suffices so l assume Tunde was back doing what boys do until last Thursday when this shell with Tunde’s soul visited me.
Apparently the operation was half done, the other half had been delayed because he was waiting for equipment which LUTH had taken delivery of, but not started using.
I know the story of those equipment. Perhaps you read about it in the papers too, the last president commissioned some multi billion-naira overhaul of the teaching hospital. As happens here, the equipment arrived and sat in containers until such a time when the president can make time in his schedule to commission them. They waited almost two years. Post commissioning in the last days of Obasanjo, it was discovered that some had become faulty and some were substandard. There are whispers that the exorbitant kickbacks demanded occasioned the need to subcontract. That of course might be a lie. Now in all of this someone forgot to train the staff so another year of training is in the offing. The maintenance contract is for 5 years so add the 2 lost years to the 1 (conservative) training year and you get the picture. In all of this drama Tunde is dying, many more Tundes have died, much more will die.

So as we both stood casually considering his options, we did it with the unemotional matter of fact ness of the lost. Our sanity is dependent on it.


Anonymous said...

Funmi, I am utterly shattered by the thought of this young man, with all his promise, being allowed to rot away because the vultures have lined their pockets nonchalantly. It's astonishing how readily available good basic medical treatment is in Nigeria, if you can afford it. Stroll in, stroll out, of posh hospitals, with far better response times than the UK NHS. Yet our rich folk flaunt the fact that they fly abroad for a headache. Kudos to the previous Lagos State govt for supporting your initiative.

Pyeri Boy said...


horse`s mouth said...

kabiyesi o!it is really a pity.i honestly do not like hearing of a brother dying.to make matters worse,all these government workers care less about the people in their care, they would honestly treat him like shit.i pray he lives.dear blessed father hear tunde`s cries.please!

tokotaya said...

A sad story indeed, but what is really sad is the commissioning of projects and all what`s not,which are not impacting anything to the lives of the masses. At the end of the last tenure, many administrators where all about commissioning this and that.What for? I must ask.Is it to enrich the pockets of their cronnies or to better the lives of the citizenry or it is just so that their names would be engraved on the commission plaque.Please tell me,we don craze finish. What can we do to help Tunde, is it totally hopeless?


wao. ki no eyan fe so si iru eleyi??? im totally speechless!!!

bibi said...

wow...so sad..when will our leaders learn how to act....

Ms. Catwalq said...

It is devastating when we see those dear to us go through pain and suffering that could otherwise have been avoided if only others did all that they had agreed to do and put service before themselves.
Please be strong for him and remind him that he has been fighting all along and so far, God has kept him here. And HE has never once left his side.

Anonymous said...

im speechless..
na wa ooh
in our country...very unfourtunate.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ all, l really dont know what we can do. l will get his full medical report and with his permission post it. Perhaps someone out there will have the expertise to help him and we can support.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to Tunde and the many others whose stories we have not yet heard, or probably will never hear.
I have to say, it's not just equipment failure that mauls our health system. that aside, 'medics' who flaunt themselves as ''heroes'', only to find they are after your money. What is so hard in accepting that a case is beyond your expertise and referring it on to a collague?
No o, they seem to have this 'me sef, i must chop my own' attitude, and render the lay-man even more hopless than when they 1st meet.
I speak from personal experience.
Money....and Greed...that is what needs to be rooted out of Nigeria's system, and im sorry to say that the only way that can happen is if all Nigerians (at home and abroad), including myself are bombed by some mega nuclear-weapon, so life can start afresh.

Anonymous said...

This is really something, i don't even know what to say however supporting him is a very good idea, in our own way we can help save a life.

And please why must they commission a machine before they save a life- maybe i am naive but who cares who brought the machine or is it not the functionality that matters.

And yes, we can bring God into it but sometimes i think he just watches us and wonders when we will start using and thinking with the brain he gave us to do everything we set our heart to do.

Anonymous said...

Great idea, let's see if we can do something practical for Tunde.

Copido said...

How completely pathetic and lackadaisical can our government be!
Very sad...