Helping the individual to help society


There is a community in Nigeria where a ceremony holds whenever a woman has given birth to her ninth child in a marriage. The husband of the woman, by the demands of tradition, presents a cow to his in-laws thanking them that the daughter they gave to him in marriage has rewarded him with nine children! In some societies, it would be regarded as crazy to expect a woman to give birth to nine children. It would be like the woman has been overused. In the modern Nigerian society, not least because of the realities of unpalatable economic circumstances, not many would seek an overdrive in the quest for more and more children from a single woman. However, Nigerians still acquire a considerable number of children, helped by the polygamous culture, and this is one reason why a ballooning population is  projected for the not-too-distant future.

Overpopulation comes with many problems of its own. It can only mean that life cannot be more abundant for the majority of the population. In the face of scarce economic resources, hunger and disease would be prevalent as government and its institutions are unable to meet the basic needs of the people.

What this means for the future is that over-dependency on the government is not the way forward. Communities must learn to do things in co-operative manners, and public-spirited organisations or individuals must be supported in the interest of the larger society.

This article is motivated by a programme aired in the UK by the BEN television on the 10th of November 2017. It was about one Dr. Olayinka Oduwaiye who established a foundation to bring the awareness of cancer, especially the breast one, to the attention of potential sufferers. The foundation, Sarah Ayoka Oduwaiye Foundation (SAOF), was established in 2008 and Dr. Oduwaiye has ever since been spending personal money on outreaches in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. His mother died of breast cancer in 1984 while he was a medical student at Ahmadu Bello University and his determination has been to prevent others from going through what his mother went through.

There is hardly any doubt that his is one type of public-spirited venture that is crying out for support, both from individuals and governments. There was a time we thought that cancer was only prevalent among white people but the scourge of the disease has been spreading like wild fire in our various communities. Many had died of cancer without ever knowing it was the disease killing them. Even with those who eventually knew they had cancer, treatment might have become meaningless because the disease had reached an advanced stage.

We in Nigeria are mostly victims of ignorance and excessive religiosity. We have pastors who claim they have the powers to heal any form of disease, including making the crippled whole again. This has been an impediment to people doing the needful when confronted with health challenges. One understands there was a church which preached against its members taking medicines and even watching the television. But church-going should be about morality and spirituality, and not about entrenching the culture of ignorance that has kept us hostage since time immemorial. It is important for us to support and encourage ventures that serve the public good and douse ignorance. In an environment that is lacking in sufficient hospitals and well-trained personnel, any venture that seeks to bridge that gap is a welcome venture. One commends Dr. Olayinka Oduwaiye and his likes to the Nigerian public for their uncommon enthusiasm about public good. It is important that we are all aware of the deadly disease of cancer and its symptoms.



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