Tuesday, 1 November 2016

MISINFORMATION ABOUT CANCER IN THE VILLAGE


photo courtesy:  http://www.vectorportal.com

Misinformation is the undoing of most villages. A few years ago, I was a witness to this kind of misinformation. It was during a time, when cancer had just reared its ugly head and started wreaking havoc on innocent families.

Because the name cancer was a mysterious name, it inspired lots of curiosity. It sounded more like the second name of the devil. Being diagnosed with it was like being kissed or hugged by the devil himself. No one really wanted to mention it by its name. It was as if acknowledging its presence would make the disease contagious. It also breezed in with diverse theories and with those theories the level of misinformation grew.
One of the theories normally had something to do with some Lilliputian insect, being the cause of the tumor. The insect was believed to be the same one that attacks dry wood, making it crumble and turn to powder.
Once in a while, a daughter or son of the clan, who happened to work in Nairobi or some other city worth its name, came back home with a cancerous tumour, somewhere in his or her body. Since in most people’s minds, the cancer did not exist, the son or daughter of the soil would be questioned on several issues, for example,

"Did you mess up with some members of a certain tribe?"

"Did you snatch someone's wife or husband?”

The 'certain' tribe in question, was one of those believed to have some very lethal 'traditional chemistry' - read witch craft

Others would ask whether you knew of someone who might have looked at you with 'bad eyes' whatever that means.

You would then be accosted by several self-appointed and self-proclaimed 'experts' who would direct you from one herbalist to another. You would be given examples of the diseases the herbalist has treated. They would then give you the testimonies of the many people the herbalist had helped, who were actually worse than you. Many people found this appealing because they had heard harrowing tales of what chemotherapy and radiotherapy could do to people. A treatment believed to be so agonizing that they called it 'Kuchomwa na stima' - being roasted using electricity. There was also the whisper that modern treatment could cause you to lose all the hair in your body. What a terrible nightmare!

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So, you migrate from one herbalist to another, who prescribe all manner of leaves and roots to boil. You try all these without much success and at some point you actually contemplate visiting a witch doctor, to find out whether indeed, someone looked at you with 'evil eyes'

Sometimes, sister or brother so and so would visit you for prayers. They would tell you that the tumour you are carrying on your neck is a demon, which can be cast out through prayer and fasting. You have to believe them because it is written that with just a little faith, you can move mountains. They will also let you know that prophet so and so or apostle so and so is coming to town and he has healed many people. At this point, you cannot resist because you are already frustrated.

Of course, one day without a name, you will end up in hospital. You will most likely be bed ridden. The doctor will confirm that the evil tumour on your neck is indeed cancerous. He will mention something about 'stage four' then he will look at you and shake his head, "If only you had come earlier." His statement makes you feel like you have just been handed a death sentence by a no nonsense judge. He will attempt to help you by performing the same chemo or radio therapy, you have been running away from. I think by now we know where this story is headed right? Well! There you have it folks, the earlier the better.

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