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Issues At Stake: We Are All Corpses In-Waiting, Sir! 

By Yerima Kini Nsom  

Last week, the dreadful giant and enigma, called death, descended on a towering Professor of Economics in Yaounde. Before other mortals could blink in disbelief, Prof. Fondo Sikod had been committed to mother earth in his native Bali Nyongha village.

The soft-spoken don was an exceptional star in the galaxy of the few academics providence chose to call issues by their real names in the country’s economic policies. Almost every English-speaking journalist in Yaounde ran to him for analysis on different economic issues. He was a daring don whose ideas were unsparingly frontal and catholic in scope.

All the same, death, that callous reaper, harvested him at his academic apogee. It has reaped many fine brains in our country.

By its fatal stroke, death has become the most dreaded phenomenon in the world. It hits the pauper, the rich, the king and the servant, the doctor and the patient, all the same. That is why humanity is united by a prevalent fear of its power. Even those who try to demystify it are humbled by its omnipotence, omnipresence, commonality and universality.

Every human mortal, somehow, is devastated by the sheer thought of his or her day of death. Many of them do not even want to imagine that they will one day quit this sinful world. Anyone who mentions the idea of writing a will to them in anticipation to the ultimate end ignites hostilities. Yet death has the knack of imposing its agenda and logic. We are all corpses in-waiting, because, death’s agenda is not our agenda, its ways are not our ways.

The sheer thought of death is so mind-numbing that different people have made different statements in attempt to demystify it. In a piece titled, “Le jour de mon enterrement,” one of Cameroon’s prominent musicians, Ottou Marcellin, describes what the day of his burial will look like. He gets into a self-consolation bid by naming all the important personalities that will attend his funeral. That is his psychological capitulation to the almighty death.

In the play, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, a fictional construct of Shakespeare’s imagination, says life is like a walking shadow. This is a description of the ephemeral nature of life as a shadow that fades into death at a very short notice.

Before the letter bomb plucked life out of one of Nigerian’s erudite journalist, Dele Giwa, in October, 1986, he had challenged death in his famous column, Parallax Snaps. Hear him: “Let me die. After all, what is here on this hellish earth?” Not long after that, IBB and the death-inspired elements of the Dodan Barracks decided to cut down the fine journalist at his prime through one of the strangest lethal phenomena in the world – the letter bomb. Death seems to have simply told the audacious Dele Giwa: “Mr. Journalist, here I come’’

For his part, the English poet and sermonist, John Donne, simplifies death as a mere cessation of breathing.

William Shakespeare describes the death of a young soldier at the battle field with all levity. He simply puts it that “Young Siward has paid a soldier’s debt’’.

Not even the various sermons drawn from the scriptures have succeeded to tame humanity’s fear of death. People are not only devastated by the loss of their loved ones but they also think about the day they will lie inert and motionless in death.

Since death is inevitable, many Christian churches and Muslim religious institutions encourage their faithful to pray for a good death. Catholic faithful recite one of these prayers on a daily basis.

‘’We must die, but we do not know when nor how, nor where. If we die in mortal sin, we are lost forever. Dear Jesus, have mercy on us.” This prayer is an appeal for good death. It is a prayer for every Christian to die in a state of grace, not that of sin, so as to have a place in heaven. There is a group in the Catholic Church known as Bonamos that is constantly praying for Christians to have a good death.

There are people who believe in the hereafter, especially the everlasting heavenly bliss. So, they lay emphasis on feeding the soul, instead of just the flesh that will finally just end up as food for worms. Unfortunately, many Christians and atheists, alike, do not believe in the hereafter death. They behave as if death is not on their agenda.

After their dictatorial power, like wine, leaves their stomachs for their haughty heads, some leaders turn to believe that they themselves are death itself because they kill people at will.

When the former Ugandan death-inspiring dictator died, many people rejoiced in disbelief. His death washed ashore the emptiness of life. The bartered and emasculated Ugandan citizens could not believe what they saw with their naked eyes. Idi Amin, the man who had shown so much disdain for humanity, expired eternally after throwing his elephantine frame abroad. Many people heaved a sigh of relieve, saying death had died.

For the former Nigerian military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, only other human beings could die. Only critics of his iron-fist rule deserved to die. But death visited him, all the same. His exit was most ignominious, for, he sailed blissfully to thy-kingdom-come in a belligerent carnal pleasure encounter with an Indian prostitute.

Many other leaders, who behave as if they will never die, stalk the length and breadth of the world. They take pleasure in the cruelty of their earthly vanity, refusing to give a single thought as to where their souls will go to when they leave their bodies. They wallow in spiritual emptiness.

Such people run plutocratic and gerontocracy-inspired kakistocracies that have a penchant for standing reason on its head. They strive in a series of illogicalities that can only lead to a cultivation of national madness. They seem to derive so much sadistic pleasure when they miscarry every reason and wrong-foot every policy to fuel the suffering of the people.

They escort the masses to their early graves by denying them basic necessities. They steal from the people’s wallet and use the money to go to the best hospitals abroad. Yet, they die even in their simulacrum of immortality.

They don’t take their material opulence with them to their graves. They are also dispatched contemptuously, six feet, into the belly of mother earth. Their corpses are lavishly dressed, their caskets gorgeously decorated and their graves are tiled with gold. But it is all vanity of vanities. Their funerals are attended by towering VIP’s who unleash outbursts of bombastic eulogies. But no one has ever resurrected from death because of the posthumous encomiums that were poured on him.

In the wake of eternal spiritual uncertainty, it will be safer for every mortal to pray for a good death. Nobody should waste his or her time praying not to die at all. Death is inevitable and we must live for others and serve God in those we find around us, instead of living only for ourselves. Whether you are big or small, rich or poor, tall or short, ugly or handsome, we are all corpses in-waiting, sir!






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