Finweek English Edition - - Nothing Sacred -

IT’S IN­TER­EST­ING THE WAY African leaders seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion in the West or in coun­tries, such as South Africa, where medicine is based on the West­ern model. The lat­est such ex­am­ple has been the kindly, gen­er­ous dic­ta­tor of Gabon – Ha­jji Omar Bongo Ondimba – who passed away, leav­ing bil­lions of US dol­lars, at the Qu­iron Hospi­tal in Barcelona in Spain af­ter 41 years in of­fice.

A Ugan­dan com­men­ta­tor, Mu­ni­ini K Mulera, points out that Bongo is the last in a long line of Africa’s Big Men seek­ing West­ern med­i­cal care.

Botswana’s Sir Seretse Khama was rushed to Lon­don in 1980 in a bad way. Ter­mi­nal ab­dom­i­nal can­cer was di­ag­nosed and, to his credit, Botswana’s first pres­i­dent flew back to pass away in his home­land. That hater of all things West­ern – Ahmed Sekou Toure, of Guinea – died on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble at the Cleve­land Clinic in Ohio in 1984 aged 62. In 1987, Chief Le­abua Jonathan of Le­sotho died of ab­dom­i­nal can­cer in a Pre­to­ria hospi­tal. He was en route to Lon­don for surgery.

Dr Hast­ings Ka­muzu Banda of Malawi died in a Jo­han­nes­burg clinic at about 100 years of age, while Julius Kam­barage Ny­erere of Tan­za­nia died in Lon­don’s St Thomas Hospi­tal, where he’d been di­ag­nosed with leukaemia.

The list goes on and Mulera com­ments: “Who, we must ask, would will­ingly choose to die next to the wretched of the earth?”

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