The Nation (Nigeria)
IHAVE a series of questions for you, Boda Cancer. What offence did humanity commit against you? Did our forebears owe you and refuse to pay? Why are you so unforgiving? Why are you always intent on spreading? Why do you affect the tongue, eyes, mouth, throat, breast, skin, blood, cervix, and other parts of the human body too numerous to mention?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says no fewer than 80,000 Nigerians die at your hand annually. You are so unpredictable that it is difficult to really say what is responsible for your attack on the human race. They say we should not smoke so as to escape you, but we have seen many who neither drink nor smoke but you still attack them. Doctors say 90 to 95 per cent of the time, they don’t know why you strike.
You have claimed greats, the best among us. Just a few days ago, you took away our Sound Sultan, our one and only Naija Ninja, the Jagbajantis exponent Olanrewaju Fasasi, who sang with his soul and heart. You attacked him through his throat, the most important tool with which he sang and made us dance and listen with rapt attention.
Before Fasasi, you had claimed our erudite lawyer and advocate of the masses, Gani Fawehinmi. You were so wicked to Gani that you made it so late before he knew you were the cause of his ill-health and, despite all his wealth, he could not find a way to escape your blow. Now, our Gani rests among the saints. He died on September 5, 2009, because you destroyed his lungs.
You also took away Mrs Funmi Olayinka, who was Ekiti State deputy governor during Governor Kayode Fayemi’s first term. Her beauty and brain did not let you show mercy. You made her go through the torture that is chemotherapy and you blackened her glowing skin and made her hair fall.
You rendered former President Umaru Yar’adua redundant for months before you eventually took him away in May 2010. His long absence from power gave us the doctrine of necessity and made Dr Goodluck Jonathan acting president. For about five years, Second Republic Senate Leader Dr. Olusola Saraki struggled with you before you made him breathe his last on November 14, 2012.
You cut short the earthly journey of exfirst Lady Maryam Babangida, wife of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, on December 27, 2009. It did not matter to you that she empowered women with the Better Life Programme for Rural Women which launched women’s centres, cottage industries, many co-operatives, farms and gardens, shops and markets, and social welfare programmes.
Can we ever forget that you also robbed us of one of the best voices and faces on television? For two years you pushed ace broadcaster, Yinka Craig, up and down until you concluded your grim assignment on September 23, 2008, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, United States of America. Another television guru, Yusuf Jibo, a former Zonal Director of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), also fell in your hand after you froze his colon.
Our great crooner Sonny Okosun had to stop the music on May 24, 2008, at 61, in the United States. No thanks to you. You also showed the Adams Oshiomhole’s family your scary sight when you took away his wife, Clara, on December 8, 2010. You were not even gracious enough to grant her an eleven-day grace to witness her daughter’s wedding.
If money can tame you, Apple founder Steve Jobs will still be alive and doing exploits. Even with his money, none of his doctors knew that his body was already full of your cells way before he was diagnosed with you in October 2003. In April 2008, he underwent a liver transplant in his bid to beat you, but by July 2011, you had spread throughout his body reaching up to his bones and you ended it all for him in October 2011. He was just 56.
You do not attack and kill only adults. Children also fall under your hammer. One tertiary hospital in Lagos says it admits between five to ten children every week. Its children ward is always filled up.
In 2013, you took away young Chioma Ukanwa. On the evening of Friday, June 14, 2013, Chioma’s remains were released from the morgue at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-araba, Mushin, Lagos mainland to her parents, Charles and Kate Ukanwa, for burial. The short ceremony was conducted under an ambience of extreme grief. You killed her a week earlier.
You eat up kids and make them raise their voices in pain. Although you account for less than 10 per cent of children’s illnesses; for the children who have been afflicted and their families, the consequences are dire. You reign because very few government hospitals are adequately equipped to deal with childhood oncology.
Some weeks ago, CNN’S Christiane Amanpour explained her absence on her show for four weeks by revealing you have invaded her ovary. The 63-year-old said: “I’ve had successful major surgery to remove it, and I’m now undergoing several months of chemotherapy for the very best possible long-term prognosis, and I’m confident. I’m also fortunate to have health insurance through work and incredible doctors who are treating me.” We are so afraid now of what the future holds for our dear Amanpour.
I must point out that there have been instances where you have been defeated. Ondo State Governor’s wife, Betty Anyanwu-akeredolu, beat you when you attacked her years ago and started the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) to campaign against you. A social worker, Rahama Sani, also defeated you and is kicking years after your blows on her.
CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker also survived your onslaught. “As a cancer survivor, I too encourage people to listen to their bodies and get all early cancer screenings available to them,” Zucker said in a statement.
My final take: Please give us a break Boda Cancer. We are respecting you by putting Boda in front of your name. Let humanity rest. If you refuse to desist, we will eventually find a way around you and be better placed to beat you silly.
‘Please give us a break Boda Cancer. We are respecting you by putting Boda in front of your name. Let humanity rest. If you refuse to desist, we will eventually find a way around you and be better placed to beat you silly’