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Halleluiah, Express Graveyards! 

By Azore Opio

When news reached me a fortnight ago that Uncle Willie, my dear friend, who was born Enoh Williams, had died at the Limbe General Hospital, the news took away the use of my speech. Afterwards, when I recovered my power of speech, and was able to speak, and had a mind to speak about Willie’s death, I was further astounded when I discovered that, Bessengue Boy, as I fondly called him, had died while the Limbe nurses bickered about payment before they could lay their hands on the unconscious body of my dear friend.

Two groups of persons murdered Willie, one would say; the guys who dumped gravel before the Moliwe Bridge after Mile 4, and the nurses who stubbornly refused to give Willie first aid because they had not seen the colour of his money. In this manner, one would say they willingly, without remorse, killed a man, who could, with the healing hands of the nurses, still be laughing with us. Even then, before Willie’s calamity, three other motorists had narrowly escaped death on the heap of gravel at the roadside.

When some of us say the devil has pitched camp in Cameroon and should be laughing out his lungs, if he has any, we are usually judged unworthy to utter a word to that effect. Yet, the bitter fact is that Cameroonians continue to die on the highways, if they are not being tortured quietly to death at Government hospitals.

Deaths, especially untimely deaths, bother me the most and it is time we called a spade a spade. When a person dies due to an idiot’s carelessness, this is what happens. They will never laugh again. They will never celebrate another Easter, another Christmas. They will never go to the bar again; they will never go for a walk on a beautiful frosty evening. They will never watch football on a Friday evening and scream their heads to high heaven. They will never have a gossipy bitching session with friends again. They will never be able to eat soya and wash it down with a frothing beer again. Never. They will never go to another funeral.

They will never buy that Charlie-Charlie, a new car. They will never, ever drink a good glass of red wine again. They will never lie in the arms of a lover, grinning, easing the cramp out of their toes, hips and ribs. They will never enjoy all of the fantastic moments life can provide. They will lie dead cold in the grave. Done, gone for good, forgotten about. Like Bessengue Boy. But the cold-blooded nurses and the happy-go-lucky road repairers will continue living in their lust and continue quietly murdering innocent people.

Greed often works negatively. Bessengue Boy is wavering between life and death, while a bunch of callous nurses stand by arguing over his still body about money. A friend, who has just parted with Bessengue Boy after Barcelona scored against Eto’o, and has been alerted by the hospital about Bessengue Boy’s desperate situation, begs the nurses by phone. "I beg if it is money you want, I’ll bring it, but please, just begin to treat my friend. I am coming!" Blinded by cruel greed, the nurses hold their grass, as we say in Cameroon. They want to see the money first before they put on their gloves.

As the saying goes, "money for hand, back for ground", except this time, it was Willie’s back on the death bed. It is likely that as the nurses salivate for his money, Bessengue Boy is dying slowly. Anyway, they do a search of poor Willie’s pockets and find amongst his personal documents something like FCFA 30,000 or so. And then Willie’s devastated friend arrives with FCFA 50,000! But Willie is stone dead. And gone with his money.

The nurses missed out on the money they had so hungered for. The Limbe Hospital missed even more money assuming Willie had survived and spent more time at the hospital. It is not only Willie who has had to expire in the hands of brutal public-servant murderers. Many are those Cameroonians who have perished on the highways and at the hospitals manned by a lot of quacks paid from taxpayers’ sweat.

When late Pius Njawe’s wife crashed in a car some years ago, her handbag was flung far away from her body. Her identity remained obscure and so she didn’t smell like money. The nurses ignored her and turned their attention to the driver on whose body they found a Le Messager business card. They had struck a rich vein! They put in their best skills on the driver as Njawe’s wife bled to death.

A couple of years ago, a young man was shot in Buea by unidentified men. He was rushed to the Regional Hospital Annex, yelping and writhing with his bullet wound pains. You could see the mocking devil shine up in the eyes of the nurses as they gawked at him while he bled to death.

These are just tit-bits. There are more dreadful scenarios at Government hospitals that leave casualty patients much worse for the wear, which, for want of space, I’ll reserve for another day. But suffice to say that although Government hospitals are cheaper, reachable and meant for the masses, it seems to be the best place for a swift death. Corruption stinks in the surgical wards as well as in the wards, where nurses steal drugs directly from patients, rubbing in more pain on the bedridden "specimens".

As if this is not enough, the drugs from Government hospital pharmacies are sometimes sold at black market prices, whereby receipts are not issued against purchased drugs. Now, this is stealing from Government. These nurses, road repairers and other partners licensed to commit crime against the Cameroonian taxpayer, have become resistant to criticisms. They are like the gonorrhoea strain that strives on penicillin. They are quietly relieving Cameroonians of the mean burden of their lives. For a fee.

It looks to me like a syndicate to cause accidents on the highways while the nurses collect the blood money at the hospitals has taken root, otherwise, why should nurses and doctors insist on payment before treatment as one bleeds to death?

As for the Ministry of Transport, banning travel agencies have never stopped road accidents. Even banning night travel by public transport that is currently under contemplation, as if road accidents happen only in the day, is impeccable madness! These are some of the unhappy affairs of the heart in our advanced democracy.
 

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