Cameroon Traditional Healer Dies from Snake Bite, after Refusing to Go to Hospital

Snake bites can be very dangerous and some can lead to very swift poisoning and death. In the case of  a man whose name I have been told is Egbe, from Kumba in the South West Region of Cameroon, he had time to do something about it but refused.

In the above video, Egba, recognised by others in the video as a traditional healer or herbalist, explains that the wounds on his hands have been caused by snake bites. He starts by acknowledging that he caught the snake by its tail before being attacked by the reptile. He goes on to explain that he had succeeded in catching the snake alive, but claimed he had no money to go to hospital. He acknowledges in the video that one of his hands was already swelling as a result of the snake poisoning. He fails to explain why he is holding the live snake and what he intends to do with it.

As he complaints of not having money, one of the persons nearby give him 50 Frs. CFA (about 69 pence). This, it must be noted is not enough to pay even for a taxi drop. He babbles around about borrowing money and how it was a Sunday and there was nothing he could do.

As Egbe walks away, one of the women in the video insists that he should go to hospital. He responds by saying that the Almighty God is his protector, given that he is a Dr. who heals people and does not harm them. He goes on to state prophetically, that someone wanted to kill him, and that he knows he is going to die, but he will kill them before he dies.

As Egbe walks away with the snake in his grasp, the people in the video are heard arguing. One says he will die unless he seeks medical attention, while another says he won’t die because he is a herbalist.

It has been announced in messages spreading on social media that Egbe finally died of the bites he received from the snake.

It all makes one to wonder. Could it be simply that Egbe lacked the funds to go to hospital that he preferred to take chances with his life? Was it his belief that he was a traditional healer and therefore capable of curing himself of the bites when he gets home? Was he under the mistaken assumption that God will protect him, even if he did nothing to help himself? These questions and more are not answered in the video that has left me shell-shocked.

This is symptomatic of many persons in Cameroon and many parts of Africa. Because of the high levels of poverty, people will go to extreme lengths to look for food, sometimes putting their lives in danger in the process. Even when they are faced with imminent death, the lack of money or the trust in herbalists or even God, to heal them, often prevents them from seeking medical attention. The ultimate result is untimely deaths which could have been easily prevented. One wonders if things

 

 

Police Stop and Search Target Specific Demographic - Photo Credit: Maya Evans

Notting Hill Carnival: UK Police Found to be Segregating during ‘Stop & Search’

Events such as the Notting Hill Carnival have historically been known to cough up a lot of surprises, least among which has not been the case of violence. As is to be expected therefore, the police do everything in their power to ensure that those who attend such events are protected from attacks. One way of doing this is through ‘Stop and Search’.

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The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 gives police officers in England and Wales the powers to stop and search anyone if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect the person is carrying:

  • illegal drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen property
  • something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar

A person can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if the police have grounds to suspect that:

  • serious violence was likely to take place
  • the person is carrying a weapon or have used one
  • the person is a specific location or area

Despite these powers being in place, there are many instances where the police have been accused of using them to target specific persons based on their age and racial background. One would have thought that in the 21st Century, such segregation will not exist. How wrong would they be?

As images and videos flooded social mediasphere at the peak of the Notting Hill Carnival, it came with little surprise when Anti-War and Human Rights Activist, Maya Evans posted images of Police engaged in Stop and Search. It would have been a routine exercise but for the fact that the targets were mainly young men, aged 25 or below, of Afro-Caribbean backgrounds. Maya goes on to explain that upon speaking to some of the young people, it appeared they even wondered if this was a legal act.

While Maya’s images portray a very responsive group of young persons, the situation is different in a video posted by Justice or Else UK, a Human Rights group campaigning against police brutality and deaths in custody. In this video, it would appear that a young man had resisted being searched, and was being forcefully arrested by the officers. The videographer, who also happens to have been an eyewitness, can be heard asking the police what ‘probable cause’ they had for stopping the young man.

As earlier indicated, the police have a right to stop and search anyone if there were reasonable grounds to suspect them of committing or intending to commit a crime. Also, what is often not told, is the fact that the person has the right to refuse being searched, unless the police can provide justification to indicate that there was reason to believe the person constituted a threat to the public. As stop and search is officially not an arrest, it is therefore wrong for the police to have forcefully grabbed the young man, without providing reason to justify their actions. In the instance where the police had grounds to suspect them of committing or intending to commit a crime, they could be arrested, but only after their rights had been read to them and they had been told of what they were being arrested for.

It is therefore sad that even in the most colourful of events, the person of African origin is always a target from the very institutions that are supposed to make them feel safe. it is even sadder that nothing is being done to stop the institutional profiling of young people of colour in the UK, who disproportionately suffer from police brutality.

It is understandable, especially given the number of persons that were injured this year at the carnival as reported by the Guardian, that measures ought to be taken to protect the public. However, when such measures target a specific demographic, it loses its legitimacy.

 

Ambazonia Interim Government Calls for School Resumption in Southern Cameroons – With Some Caveats

The issue of school resumption in the English-Speaking parts of Cameroon has been a very contentious one. Over the last week, the debate has been intense with some advocating out-rightly that schools should resume, some out-rightly rejecting the notion and some arguing that for schools to resume, there has to be some promise of security.

In what has been a signficant U-turn, the Interim Government of the self-proclaimed Federal Republic of Ambazonia, through its Communication Secretary Chris Anu, in a broadcast, announced that they were not against school resumption.

In a message that was 1 hour and 16 minutes long, the representative of the Interim government of Ambazonia dealt with a large number of issues. Amidst exhalations to those still fighting for the restoration of their statehood, he used historical references to indicate why there was no need to give up.

At the 43rd minute and 27th second however, he turned his attention to the issue of school resumption. He made it clear that the Interim Government and front-line movements, having held in the past that schools should not resume, are taking a different approach to the issue. Announcing that schools were free to resume and that educational institutions were free to open their doors, the Ambazonia leaders have shown without doubt that they are more concerned about the future of Cameroonians than the current Biya regime.

In my message to the leaders before their Washington DC conference, I had raised the issue of school resumption and argued that it will cast the leaders in a more favourable light as education remains one of the key ways of ensuring a better future for children and for continuity of the quest for freedom.

Justice Ayah Paul Abine also raised the issue, while highlighting the importance of making sure that school resumption was closely linked to the halting of hostilities. It therefore came as no surprise that while making the announcement that schools can resume, the Ambazonian Interim Government, raised the issue of security as a concern. Pointing out to the many instances where the Cameroonian security apparatus has failed to provide safety for citizens, it was made clear that as people resume schooling, they should be aware that the levels of insecurity are still high.

This announcement has effectively increased the pressure on the Biya Regime to ensure that hostilities are halted ahead of the school resumption. In the last two years, the regime in Yaounde has been able to hide under the banner of school boycott policies, to blame all activists fighting for a better Cameroon for anything that went wrong with the educational system. The regime on occasion, blamed activists and Ambazonian fighters for burning schools and attacking pupils and students as way of enforcing school boycott. All of that changes with this announcement.

It is therefore hoped that with this announcement, schools can resume and parents can make the decision to send their kids to school without the fear of disobeying orders from the Ambazonian leadership. It is a tiny step forward, but certainly one in the right direction, especially given the challenges that the school boycott was already presenting to the economy of the Anglophone Regions and to the general health of the struggle for freedom.