Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaSaturday, August 16, 2014
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ne of my friends in those days was disturbed for months without end. All nights he was unable to sleep. He went to the extent of placing plaster over his eyes; all to no avail. He drank stout and milk solution. The more he drank, the more he kept awake. He even tried all the known sleeping tablets in the market. Instead of falling asleep, he fell awake. At last he went to the hospital for medical examination. The doctor conducted different tests and concluded medically that my friend patient was suffering from Insomnia. My friend came back and told us that the doctor said that he was suffering from Insomnia. From that day on, we began to call him Insomnia as nickname. If you call him the name, he would reply, "Ya sokwa gi." (Let it follow you). At night we avoided coming in contact with him to avoid infecting us with insomnia, which would cause us sleepless night. He lived in isolation at night. We became friends during the day and enemies at night.

Indeed there is no brotherhood in the jungle. Before a plane takes off, the hostesses intimate the passengers on safety techniques in case of emergency landing. They say when there is lack of oxygen on board, oxygen masks will drop automatically in front of your seat. You use it to cover your mouth and nose. If you have a child with you, then you must put on your own mask first before helping your child to put his own. You must be very careful when you are saving a drowning person, otherwise both of you will perish in the sea. The hen told her chicken to be alert while searching for their daily bread.

Some years ago, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) filtered into the air globally. It begins in the incubation as HIV. With time it develops into AIDS. At this stage, it becomes fatal. People became frightened of sex. Most prostitutes repented and became pious believers. Some of the repented prostitutes who died during that time went to heaven, where St. Mary Magdalene welcomed them into Paradise. God does not desire the death of a sinner, but wants them to repent. Have you repented? The Kingdom of God is at hand. The careless sex addicts contracted AIDS and ended in the grave ( obiri n'aja ocha). With time medical experts discovered drugs for control of AIDS. Infected patients can live long if they are faithful to the drugs. A man of God who contracted AIDS decided to die in silence instead of presenting himself for medical control. He told himself, "What would my congregation say if they discover that I am suffering from AIDS?" He forgot that AIDS can be contracted in many ways. Why die in silence? Sickness has no respect.

There was a time I was admitted at Regina Caeli Hospital Awka due to acute malaria. Some members of the Legion of Mary were going from ward to ward, praying for patients. When they came over to my sick-bed, they admonished me to carry my cross with patience; that God would heal me soonest. They promised to pray for me there and then. But before praying for me, they asked me what I do for a living and my identity. Feverishly I told them that I am a Reverend Father. On hearing that I am a Reverend Father, they reversed their intention to pray for me at my sick-bed. Instead, they asked me to pray for them there and then. I laughed like a sick man. How can a sick man pray for a healthy man? I asked them to pray for me because sickness has no respect. Their hands were trembling as they prayed for a sick priest. I was saying Amen and laughing inside me.

The rat bit someone mercilessly. As if enough is not enough, the lizard went and sharpened its teeth to do its own biting. As the panic of the dreaded Acquired Immune deficiency Syndrome is calming down, another more dangerous infectious disease has crept into the world through West Africa. It is called Ebola. Everyone is now panicking. Even our Guardian Angels may run away from us soon because of the dangerous disease to avoid spreading it into Heaven. I came across a mad man near Central School Ekwulobia in Aguata Local Government of Anambra State. The mad man went into a casket (coffin) shop nearby. He used the stick he was holding and hit it at one of the caskets and shouted, "Ebola, no be me! God forbid!" Even mad people are panicking of Ebola.

Last week Thursday night, there was much panic all over Nigeria. Text messages and phone calls kept people awake throughout the night. The rumour filtered into the air that Ebola is about to wipe out mankind from the Earth especially in Africa. Therefore everyone must bath with hot water mixed with salt before the dawn of the day. In addition, hot water and salt should be drunk to survive the infectious and terminal disease. Business thrived. Mobile telephone Network lines made millions of naira overnight. Salt sellers smiled to the banks. The prices of kerosene, gas and firewood for boiling water skyrocketed. The cock crew continuously as people were panicking for dear life at the silence of the night. Phone calls and text message woke me up. But before answering the calls and reading the messages, I have already taken a cold bath and shaved my beards. I glanced in the mirror to admire my face before picking a call from my brother living in Jos. I nearly urinated in my trousers to receive his call very early in the more. I was shaking with fear as I asked him if all was well. He said, "Ebola, Ebola! Please take a hot bath with salt. Drink the mixture of hot water and salt to avoid contracting the dreaded Ebola." I replied, "My brother, calm down. Let's watch and see. The Medical Experts, the Government and the Media will tell us the truth at dawn." As I was dropping my phone, I heard a big knock at my door. I thought it was Ebola knocking. I brought my Holy Water to confront the disease if it ventures to come into my room. Also, I covered my face with a polythene bag and wore gloves on my hands. I courageously opened my door slightly with every bit of alacrity. Behold, it was my brother priest coming to collect a prayer book from me. When he saw me and all I wore, he drew back and shouted, "Father, what is wrong?" I replied, "Ebola, Ebola!" He laughed at me and said, "No cause for alarm. It is a false rumour. Let's go and pray."

After the morning prayer, it was already day. I went out and met some people. I greeted them and offered my hand for a handshake but all put their hands behind. Confusedly, I asked them, "What is wrong?" They chorused, "Ebola! Ebola!" I went a step further and met an elderly woman with salt all over her face. I greeted her, "Mama, good morning. What is wrong?" She shouted, "Ebola! Ebola!" As I went through the street, I saw people carrying bags of salt up and down. I asked one of them, "What is the salt for?" He replied simply, "Ebola, Ebola." Immediately I ran back to my residence to avoid meeting with Ebola herself. In fact, more people will die of fear and panic than of Ebola disease.

According to medical experts, the Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the human disease caused by the Ebola virus. This virus is invisible. It can be acquired upon contact with blood, urine, saliva or bodily fluids of an infected persons or animals. It can also spread through male semen. The disease is infectious and deadly. Symptoms start two to three days after contracting the virus with fever, sore throat, muscle pains and headaches. Later nausea, vomiting and diarrhea follow, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. Bleeding problems begin at this point. Then death is imminent. The late Liberian Mr Patrick Sawyer brought the infectious disease to Nigeria and he has died. I wish God would extricate him from wherever he is (in hell or purgatory) to come back to Nigeria and face the wrath of Law. Since I heard the ugly news of the late Liberian Patrick, I am applying for the change of my English name from Patrick to Prudence. Last week, a Yoruba man called Bola changed his name to Bora, because if you add "E" behind Bola, it becomes Ebola.

Ebola disease as of now is incurable. The salt water solution rumour is false. Salt and water or salt and bitter kola can never prevent or cure Ebola virus. The person who spread that rumour should be apprehended and sent to Liberia to face justice. Experts warn that taking too much salt can lead to hypertension, kidney disease, diabetes, etc. If you are hypertensive already, your BP rises abnormally. Prevention is better than cure. Experts advise that meats should be properly cooked. Protective clothing should be worn when handling meat. Our hands must be washed with soap from time to time. Personal hygiene is recommendable. Clean environment is an advantage. Crowded areas should be avoided for now. Suspicious symptoms of Ebola must be reported on time to medical experts. The medical experts themselves should be very careful in handling patients, known or unknown. It is also advisable to avoid travelling abroad for now, especially to the infected countries. I advise the Federal Government of Nigeria to ban Nigerians living in the affected countries from coming back to Nigeria until further notice. Foreigners and citizens coming into the country from elsewhere should face thorough medical tests at the Airports. Any Nigerian who dies abroad should be buried there. But the funeral can be done here at home. Finally we should fall on our knees to plead for divine mercy.