Today is my last day in Beira, Mozambique. My friends and I had planned a visit to a friend of ours Charles, then to the hospital, after which we proceed to the airport for my onward journey to Johannesburg in South Africa.
We were ready to leave the house at around 8 o’clock in the morning. I had requested for a photograph with everyone in the family – fortunately, Ordem’s mum and sister were still around. We took different shots and I promised that I would return to visit Beira and the family again.
Outside the house, I noticed a cock and a mother hen that had always been together since I visited. They were always seen together even at a point, both of then had to enter the house and climbed onto the chair in the sitting room. I really wonder if they are still together or they have been eaten!
Come to think of this, I have always wanted to revisit several places that I had visited before. Some places and people I have met on the road travelling has really helped me create some memories and fantasies I would want to recreate again. Most time when I sit down to plan for a trip, I am caught in between going to a new destinations or just simply visiting an old destination and recreating some of the memorable things that happened there. In any case, for now, the desire to go to a new destination normally wins because I plan to travel to as much new destinations as I can.
I said the final ‘Ate logo’ to Madam Uajieto and her family before leaving to the city center with my friends. We wanted to get to the hospital first for Ordem to see the doctor. I had made an observation the previous day when we went use a public bathroom. Ordem spent a lot of time before going in to pee. When I queried why he took so long, he told me he noticed at some point growing up that he never had a scrotal sac like other people. Ever since he noticed this, he never wanted to discuss it with his parents or friends but rather kept it to himself.
The new plan that morning was to visit the hospital and get medical attention to this anomaly – a development that Ordem and Paulo were ok with. On arrival to the hospital, we noticed a large number of patients who had come from the different districts of the Sofala Province to the General Hospital. There were very sorry sights everywhere, people with all sorts of ailments sat patiently waiting for their turn to see the doctors for remedy to their illnesses. We paid for the registration and we had a medical record opened for him.
I had earlier contacted a cousin medical doctor of mine in Poland the previous night who when I told him of my friend’s age, suggested it is likely too late to conduct a surgery to solve this problem. According to him, after birth, the scrotal sac was supposed to formulate and the testicles was supposed to drop into this sac. He noted that at Ordem’s age of 21, heat from the environment might have damaged the testicles. He however recommended we see a doctor who will further advice on what should be done.
The doctors at the hospital confirmed the same thing I was told the previous night. This defect is called cryptorchidism which simply translates to undescended testicle. This is caused by the testicles not moving into the scrotal sac on or before a baby is given birth to. This is often noticed in boys who are born prematurely. After birth, the testicles do eventually descend and in some rare cases, it does not descend and in these cases, a corrective surgery would be embarked upon to put it at the correct place where it should be.
An appointment was scheduled for Ordem to come back on a different day to see a specialist who would recommend series of tests before the surgery.
Let’s discuss some of the challenges that we experience here in Africa, especially in African Hospitals. The fact that some of the hospitals are poorly equipped with modern medical equipment is something to be worried about. This is very obvious because we see different African leaders and the rich, travelling outside their countries to get treatment overseas. It is a good thing that they can afford to travel with taxpayers hard earned money to take care of themselves and their families but the question about who will take care of the ordinary man in the street remains a puzzle. Even in some cases when some of these equipment is available, there may not be the available manpower to use them. In some cases, there may not be sufficient electricity to power them. African governments should invest more in the heath sectors of their economies. Countries like South Africa that invest most in health and education sectors are today reaping the benefits of a healthy people. Other African economies should follow suit.
Secondly, the virus of corruption is a bigger problem in the public health sector. The level of corruption in some of the hospitals here in Africa is just too much. Let me sight the case of my friend for instance. He was eventually billed to be operated on two weeks from the date we visited. The surgery was supposed to cost him nothing (something I was excited about initially). However, on getting to the hospital a day before the surgery to confirm if it would go as planned, he was told that the surgery has been delayed to a latter day. This thing happened for more than three times and it is almost one year and six months since we visited the hospital, yet no date has been fixed for it. So why would the dates be changed? First, some of the doctors would intentionally want the situation delayed so that they could convince the patients to come to their private clinics for treatment. This is one of the ways they enrich themselves. Some will even tell you this to your face and even when one escalates this, nothing will be done by the hospital management or the government to bring these ones to order. We all know the government don’t visit these hospitals, they would rather fly abroad on medical tourism. They’ll never fall victims.
Enough about the challenges we have in our hospitals, there is also the need for parents to pay close attention to the needs and the development of their kids as they grow up. I believe that if this anomaly in my friend was spotted earlier and taken care of when he was younger, it would not have complicated itself as the doctors claimed it was. Parents and siblings should watch out for strange or abnormal developments in the lives of their babies while they are growing up. Noting something abnormal and taking it up medically would save the babies a lot of pain in the future.
At this point, we left the hospital and we were joined by another friend Charles. Charles spoke no English but Portuguese. He understood a little English but it was difficult for him to speak. We had wanted to visit him but his mother had reservations about a Nigerian coming to visit his son. He had to sneak out to come see me before I left to South Africa.
We made our way to the Beira Airport and arrived just in time before my departure. I was flying a LAM Mozambique flight to Johannesburg that evening. It was very emotional saying goodbye to my crew. Let me also note here that there were no immigration formalities here in Beira since I was flying an international route to South Africa. It was meant to be a local flight first to Maputo, the capital then we would have our passports stamped by immigration before we eventually takeoff to South Africa.
The flight to Maputo was very short. I was a little bit concerned about the immigration in South Africa. I have heard stories about them turning people off at the point of entry and several cases of corruption they involve in especially when a visitor does not come with a vaccination card. I was shocked when on arrival at Maputo, I had some issues getting my passport stamped. Here is what happened and how I resolved it:
On arrival at the airport at Maputo, I had to go greet the friend, Markus whom I met the first time I arrived Maputo and who helped me call my friends the first day I arrived. He was so happy to see me and also helped me locate where I would complete the immigration formalities before boarding. I had less than 30 minutes to board the plane.
Already on the immigration queue, I waited for my turn but the immigration official, a lady in this case complained that there was a problem with my passport that I should rather go and discuss with one other official who she said was his superior. The gentleman (even though I am trying to be polite addressing him as such, he does not deserve it) insisted that I was with a Nigerian Passport and that I had some evil intentions in mind to have received visa in Pemba, Northern Mozambique before eventually coming to Maputo.
First of all, my destination was Maputo when I left Nairobi earlier on this trip. It was the airline I flew – LAM Mozambique that decided to pick up additional passengers from Pemba and then required us all to get visas in Pemba as well. While I made these explanations, this migration officer pretended he did not understand English. This is something some immigration officers do when they see you don’t speak their language and they want to frustrate you to pay them a bribe. He had to send for someone who he claimed would interpret what he was saying to me. After I explained everything to this ‘interpreter’, he simply told me to give the guy some money so he could release me. I then confirmed my suspicions. I refused to pay this fee. Having less than 10 minutes to board the plane, I heard announcements going on in the airport in English and Portuguese requesting me be to board the plane – I felt good my name was announced anyways. I went straight to the airline’s desk at the airport. Fortunately, there were two ladies there who now went with me to the immigration. The ‘stupid boy’ still insisted he would not let me board after the ladies explained the same thing to him. One of the ladies now went to call the Head of Immigration of the airport. He was the one that eventually came and asked them to allow me in.
This same immigration officer now told his boss I do not have a return ticket back to Nigeria. I had made a reservation and paid afterwards for my return ticket from South Africa, but I did not bother to check to be sure I had an email confirmation for this booking. It was there I discovered that I did not have the email confirmation. Another problem.
I pretended to be seriously searching for it. Then the plane had waited an extra five minutes and announcements were still going on for me to board. The immigration chief just asked him to let me go! I rightly gave the ‘thief’ a smile a brother will give to his older bullying brother when the father comes to intervene for the younger one. It was then he told me in English… “You’re laughing at me alright?” An accusation I quickly denied!
I was boarded in less than 2 minutes and the plane took-off almost the same minute. Seated there, I became a bit worried as well because I do not know if my not having a return ticket with me would matter to the airline although I knew we could go to the airline to verify and the airline has an office at the airport.
Landing in Johannesburg was fun and remarkable. It was around 7pm local time and the aircraft, was just cruising round the city – maybe they delayed our landing. The lightings were so beautiful. The lights formed a beautiful hexagonal form. We eventually landed some minutes later and got in to immigration.
With my heart pumping hard, I went straight to a tall black immigration officer – there were white ones too (that would be my first time of seeing such in Africa, white immigration officers except in Mauritania). He asked me what I came for and I told him I came for tourism and to write an examination. He stamped my passport without further questions.
I was excited and went straight into the airport arrivals. I changed some money which I eventually regretted because airport rates were just too cheap and I lost a few rands. I went straight to charge my phone so I could order a taxi and even make a hotel reservation where I would be staying and unfortunately, I could not charge because the socket in South Africa was very different from the ones I had. Fortunately, I was able to charge and eventually settled for a guest house of 150 Rands around Kempton Park which is close to the airport. A very kind driver charged me a reasonable flat rate to take me to different cheap hotels and guest houses that night. He even helped me buy a sim and promise to come pick me the next day. It was winter then in the southern hemisphere. Johannesburg was 6 degrees centigrade that night.