It is one thing to hear of a horrible news when one is thousands of miles away from the source, it is a whole different feelings when one is less than 80 miles away.
“Have you heard about the ebola-like disease killing people in Ondo State?” a friend texted.
“What disease?” I asked.
It can be a bit exhausting trying to reason with everything that happens with my people especially when crucial fact is concealed.
Everything around this news suggested some kind of food poisoning but a friend was adamant that the okada (motorcyclists) must have offended the gods. Explanations floating locally was that the guys went to steal some masks from a place that ‘ordinary’ people should not have ventured.
The stolen masks were to be sold on to some europeans.
I looked on and really did not want to get to any argument of existence of ‘dark power’ under masks.
I called a friend to hear what she knew of the ‘outbreak’ – she was also convinced that the deaths of the Okada riders have been ‘written’ and that it was due to our sins that angered Jesus Christ.
Subsequently, WHO announced the deaths of 17 people in Ondo village was due to pesticides poisoning, this was assumed as there were no new case in the area and that the symptoms were not consistent with Ebola – a huge relief.
Pesticides are heavily used to kill bugs in our fruits and vegetables – the usage isn’t much of a problem but the quantity being used.
This kind of incidence happens all the time in different parts of Nigeria, usually they go unreported, the only reason this gains any attention at all was the Ebola case that people are still very sensitive about.
About 20 years ago, a whole family was seriously ill in my village – it started overnight – the local nurse was called in and gave all he could – a toddler in the family who had different meal gave clue that it was a food poisoning from a particular mushroom that the family had eaten. When the family felt better, they brought the mushroom to the village so all could see and warned not to eat them.
We all learned.
In the case of Ode Irele, Ondo, Lagos-based laboratory tested body fluids of the victims and concluded that methanol consumption was the cause of the deaths. This is more believable given locally brewed alcohol is very common particularly in the southern parts of Nigeria. They are cheaper than the Oyinbo brands.
Thank goodness that science exists.
Unless Molokun, the Ondo local diety is capable of emitting methanol, I’d go with the laboratory findings.