Category Archives: Religion

The Outbreak of a New Disease in Irele Ondo State

When the Ebola outbreak began in March 2014, the response of individual countries was slow. The World Health Organisation was criticised for its slow response in championing the fight against the Ebola virus disease (EVD). Over one year later, ebola no longer makes headlines, Nigeria did a brilliant job at dealing with the spread of the virus within Nigeria, with 12 survivors out of the 20 seen in the country. We no longer see ebola inspired fear videos such as the one below.

However, there seems to be a new outbreak, and it is not cholera (although we have seen cholera outbreaks in Ebonyi state and the state seems to be doing its best to control it). The scary new disease is one which has no name and has seen conflicting reports in the media. A new disease has been noticed in Irele in Ondo state of Nigeria and is said to have stunned the doctors who have no clue what it is. All affected patients have presented with symptoms that include breaking out in hives and rashes, very elevated blood pressure, momentary blindness and swelling of body parts (Sahara Reporters, 2015).

17 have now died as new cases continue to emerge. Tests at LUTH have not revealed what has caused these symptoms and the subsequent deaths. The pervading story is that the symptoms are linked to a seed which was consumed by the patients. Others have said that they are linked to a corpse which is said to have been exhumed.

Gov. Mimiko of Ondon State. Source:
Gov. Mimiko of Ondon State. Source:

The Governor of Ondo State has released a statement as follows:

The statement reads: “My dear good people of Ondo State, We have witnessed in the last few days a major health challenge.

“A yet to be named ailment whose causative agents, diagnosis and cure are also yet to be determined struck in locations in Irele Local Government Area of our State, killing 17 people and stoking panic and fear.

“I am, like you, saddened by this losses and the attendant fear of what looks like an epidemic.

“I can only bring words of consolation to the families of the deceased and words of comfort and assurances to the good people of our dear state.

“Our prayer at this hour is that God grants rest to the dead and fortitude to the living.

“Fellow citizens, we have, as a government, taken all necessary and available actions to respond to this health crisis.

“Amidst conflicting and confusing information, the investigating team of experts sent by government to the area gathered that all the casualties died within hours of affliction. In all, 17 deaths have been confirmed in Ayadi Community and Ode Irele township and all the deaths were preceded by symptoms of sudden blurred vision, headache and loss of consciousness.

“It must be said that the team was despatched to the communities affected and the General Hospital as well as other health facilities, to gather needed information about the nature, scope and circumstances of the outbreak. Key informants interview, hospital record search and patient interview were used to obtain information.

“I must state that the symptoms in this situation are not peculiar to any known epidemic and so have remained largely confounding.

“Specifically, it must be stressed, the symptoms observed in the two communities of Ayadi and Ode Irele bear no resemblance to those associated with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).”

Gov Olusegun Mimiko has issued a statement attempting to allay the fears of the people, but it does not say too much about what is being done. He goes on to state that this is not Ebola. Should this make people less worried or more worried? Atleast with Ebola, Nigeria now has experience in dealing with it. This new disease is very disturbing, especially since the people of the affected communities are said to believe that the disease is a punishment from the gods for desecrating the shrine.

“Agbogidi (A Study of Fertility Shrines),” 1972, by Nigerian artist; Bruce Onobrakpeya.
“Agbogidi (A Study of Fertility Shrines),” 1972, by Nigerian artist; Bruce Onobrakpeya.

All women have now been mandated to fetch buckets of water and pour at the site for cleansing. Will the men not join in fetching the water too?

Women fetching water elsewhere in the country.
Women fetching water elsewhere in the country.

The Federal Ministry of Health and perhaps the WHO need to move in to deal with what is clearly an epidemic, we can’t be having this kind of silliness in this day and age in a country as populous (imagine the potential for swelling numbers of new infections) and wealthy (we can afford the cost of protocols to control and check this) as Nigeria. The statement from Gov Mimiko says there is investigation ongoing, but what are we doing with the infections and the people they have come in contact with and all that protocol?

Ebola fact sheet; cases and deaths. Source:
Ebola fact sheet; cases and deaths. Source:

This has cost more lives in Nigeria already than Ebola. Hopefully it is dealt with swiftly.

Mea Culpa?

So Easter is in 3 days, this is the holy week and I have been feeling a certain “mea culpa” for missing most of Lent. I have been reflecting quite a bit about everything I believe in. You see, I was raised a catholic and I like being a catholic, I even cried when Pope John Paul II died (yes, he was a good man), expressed my respect for Benedict XVI when he resigned, and screamed at the top of my lungs when “Habemus Papam” was declared a few weeks ago after the conclave sat. Although there are some things I dare not express in the church. I believe that the use of condoms is absolutely essential (don’t get me started on the prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS and what it does to families and those poor children orphaned by AIDS). I also do not see how it is in my place to criticise people’s sexual choices.

Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Back to my faith, the catholic way of worship is certainly different from the exuberance of the Pentecostal style, and it is also different from the new age form of worship. In the Catholic Church, the bible forms a tremendous foundation of who we are and our expression of faith. However, the sacraments of the church as well as the pope are very key. The Pope is key to the decisions made in the church; one remembers Vatican II, and the more recent changes to the liturgy of the mass to usher in 2012 by Benedict XVI. The church (and I use the term loosely to mean the followers of Christ) is changing to become relevant to the times we live in. There is a lot of dancing and singing in non-traditional churches, of preaching about prosperity and wealth creation. People especially young people find this relevant to their time. The new age forms are also popular and people use them in whole, or in parts; meditation, yoga, mantra chanting, varying from place to place. I think this form of worship will take over from the traditional forms and the fierce Pentecostal style, eventually. My journey though, has taken me to several different forms and places.

However, I like to think of myself as a catholic although many people may not regard me as a good one. I have missed mass quite a few times and I cannot remember the last time I went to confession! But in all this, I have held the Eucharist very special in my heart. My mother was visiting a couple of weekends ago, and she came with a boxful of catholic prayers for my sister and I; “How to find a life partner” (Ha!More on this next post), “How to avoid mortal sin”, “Prayer to the Saint of the Impossible”, and so many more. She made copies too, so that we each had a copy! “Everything Good Will Come” she kept telling us. I love my mum so much! That Sunday, I attended mass with her (no question of missing it while she was here). I dressed up with a slight irritation in my heart; I had a lot of work to finish off and wasn’t feeling like going because I went to bed late (we were up saying the Rosary with mum).

Surprisingly though, when I got to church, I felt a tremendous peace within my heart, the kind that makes you smile and keep still. I can tell you now that I do not know what it was, but it felt great and I will go back this week. The way I look at it is; as long as you are not causing harm to people, if it makes you happy and you believe, stick to whatever works for you.

Happy Easter to you.