Fulani men don’t cry.
This Fulani man carried a young child, wrapped in his mother’s Ankara. His entire body was covered in the cloth save his dangling legs. There was a stench that followed him, the type that caused other passers-by to give way as he came close. It wasn’t that he had a terrible odor, it wasn’t his son either but sometimes, the soul can tell what the body cannot sense.
The taxi drivers had refused to stop; he would carry this child to their small settlement on the outskirts of town on foot. His emotions were torn apart but as a man, he could not bring his feelings to the surface. He had to be strong for Fatima. He had to think of how to console her before he got home. He had instructed Abubakar to dig the earth where the child would be buried.
It is of great belief among the other tribes that Fulanis don’t care about human lives, and that their most prized possession was their cattle; Musa did not dispute this but his children were precious to him. Just two weeks ago, his first son had partaken of the “Shar’o” festival where he had chosen the beautiful Hauwa to be his wife. The Koowgal and Kabbal had also been performed. But one blessing was a problem in disguise.
The day of the Shar’o, his second son, Bello had complained of body aches.
“Bandu am don nawa mama” he told his mother.
“When you have been playing since morning ehn Bello, why won’t your body ache?”
“You should have your bath and go to bed, you’ll be fine tomorrow”
But he wasn’t better, in fact, the condition had worsened.
Bello felt very uneasy, his body was so hot, he had begun to sweat but deep inside, he felt so cold. His mother put a towel in cold water and used it to cover him, but the fever did not subside.
It was probably malaria again. It wasn’t common among their tribe but this child of hers had the peculiarity of falling sick with this illness several times in a year. The remedy was not farfetched, she had learnt it from a Yoruba woman at the market where she sold ‘awara’. She quickly sourced for the ingredients: garlic, ginger, onions, lemon grass,lime, unripe pawpaw and black pepper. She boiled them in a pot and gave the juice to her son. In four to five days, the fever would be gone.
True to its strength,the herbs worked and the boy was much better the following day and resumed his duty of feeding the fowl and goat in the compound. He could not milk the cows yet, his mother had restricted his activities. The act still fascinated him and he longed for the day he would drink milk from the udder of a cow but he was still too young to do that.
“Bello, Bello, a hoosi dankali?”
It was his elder brother was inviting him to a meal of sweet potatoes and omlette which his new wife had just prepared. He knew Bello loved potatoes.
There was no reply.
He would later find Bello vomiting something that was dark in color, something like blood. His eyes were no longer milky white; they had a pale yellowy shade. There was also blood in his nostrils. His body was very hot.
“Baba, yiddi dofta, yiddi dofta”
“Father, we need to get to a doctor”, Abubakar shouted till his father came out to see his son. Abubakar carried the boy on his back and hurriedly looked for one of their cousins who had a motorcycle. There was a primary healthcare centre in the town, about eight kilometers away.
The health centre could not handle the situation, and the child was referred to the tertiary institution closest to them.
The doctor explained through an interpreter that Bello had Yellow fever. He however did not tell them of how bad it had gotten, the fact that his liver had been jeopardized and there was only a small chance he would survive.
That was four days ago.
His son was dead.
Yellow fever was the culprit.