Ethiopia

   155    
2

I once asked this lady I was interviewing what her definition of a sexy man was. She said that what she found sexiest was seeing him carry an infant. A grown man, with a beard and veins running down the back of his big hands, carrying an infant swaddled in a ball of clothing with only his pink helpless face peeking out. She said she just loved how men sit when they cradle an infant in their arms, as if they want to stand; straight back, shoulders squared out, a confused but conquering look on their faces, like they are carrying an unpredictable missile, but also a missile they wouldn’t mind getting blown up by. (Note: no relation to Bruno Mars’ grenade things).

She said she finds it sexy as hell when she’s in town and she sees those families going back home from a Sunday outing in Uhuru Park and the man is walking ahead with his small baby blacked out in his arms.

“And the wife is trailing behind, holding the hand of a small boy wearing a complete suit with a bowtie,” I chime in, “like he’s going for a fundraiser…”

“Yes, and he’s clutching a red balloon in the other hand…”

“And he’s happy because he ate ice-cream and chips and now he’s chewing gum as dessert,”

“Because gum also helps him with digestion – ”

“And also makes him look tough – “

“A tough boy with a balloon…”

“In a full suit…”

“On a Sunday…”

She likes that juxtaposition; of a grown man carrying an infant. It’s a cross-roads of sorts; one who’s already been on the road of life for tens of years and the other who hasn’t even set foot on the road. She likes how vulnerable the men look, tender, almost weakened by the affection that holding an infant brings. These are men who might work heavy machines during the day, or shout at a group of other men in a boardroom at lunch or have other men salute as they duck through entrances but when they carry a baby in their arms, they are diminished, reduced to something so bare, singular and transparent.

She finds that sexy.

Babies are generally sexy. But not when they are born. When they are born they are unsightly. They look like hamsters with their pink bruised faces and swollen eyes. They look hungover. But since children come from God, they are all “sweet,” aren’t they? Newborns don’t even look like anyone living. They look like ancestors. Or departed freedom fighters.

But then they start taking shape. Their cheeks fill out. Their eyes brighten. They start following the movements of your fingers. They flinch when you slam the door. They start kicking their legs in the air when they see you. They start eating their fingers. They start laughing, that infectious gurgling laughter that is better than any music ever made. And when they clutch your finger in their small fists you never want them to grow a day older.

But sometimes they don’t. They die.

And a dead child is the most life altering thing anyone can endure. My pal lost his first baby a few weeks after birth. We buried that little man at Lang’ata Cemetery. I remember how he stood by the grave that afternoon, watching his son go into the ground like he was watching it on television. Then he lost his mom. The other day I asked him a most insensitive question, I asked him which death altered him the most, his son’s or his mom’s. He said, “In a broader sense I think my son was a greater loss because when my mom left I had already become, I was an adult, I understood the cruelty of death. But with your child, a boy barely a month, it’s exactly the opposite. I haven’t stopped questioning why he died.”

Children just shouldn’t die but sometimes they die from falling off sofas and landing on their head as the maid warms their milk. Other times death sneaks into their cot and snuggles with them – a phenomenon so shockingly simple that the medics could only honor it with initials – SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Sometimes they start crying, and they get a fever and before a pediatrician can stick a thermometer in their anus, they die. Other times they die even before they have embodied their new name – before they have gone to their new homes. These deaths leave their toys, empty cots, booties and feeding bottles around as macabre torture equipment for the living parents. These deaths are unfathomable.

But then there are the deaths that shouldn’t take kids away. When they die from illness like pneumonia (number one killer of babies under 5 years), malaria or something viral, something that can be avoided by a simple vaccine.

Last week I found myself at the African Union in Ethiopia, seated in a roomful of men and women who go to work every day with the intention of saving children, which is the most unlikely room I could ever have thought I’d find myself in. I had received an email from Global Health Strategies in New York inviting me for the Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa. I thought it was a mistake because I don’t write about health but then the lady said, just go and have a look. If you stumble on something you like, write about it.

Here is the thing.

You haven’t been ennui until you have sat in a big plenary hall and listened to someone talk about “achieving immunization targets with the comprehensive effective vaccine management framework.” It gives you a small headache. But worse than that is someone rattling off figures on “increased routine immunization coverage across Africa for DTP3 – which you only realise later stands for Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis. DTP3 sounds like something that would cause a dog’s claws to fall off. The diseases killing children have such ominous names that the first time you write them even Word underlines them in fear. If DTP3 is bad, I wonder what DTP2 can do. This room I found myself in was full of bookies, advocates, technical experts, policy makers, donors and this strange breed of journalists who write about science and have the strangest conversations during tea time. (More on this later).

Another 500 not so exciting people were invited. They were from WHO, PATH, Save The Children, Speak Up Africa, Village Reach, Unicef, JSI, Gavi, USAID, UNICEF and governments all over Africa. When you stand in a room full of these guys you realise that the amount of intelligence, the collective brain matter in that space is so intense that it outweighs the room and numbs it. All they want to talk about is science, policy and DTP-3. And supply chain. You wonder if these guys ever do anything less academic, like whistle in the shower.

Don’t even talk about fashion. Fashion isn’t something they care about. Nobody wants to experiment with colours, not when there is a new vaccine to be produced. There are only five colours in the room; black, white, brown, grey and dull. So nobody will wear happy socks here, not when there is a child to be saved in Mali. Once in a while you will see a Nigerian in colourful flowing regalia contemplatively weaving through the crowd like he’s searching for his crown. The ladies are severe.

A Caucasian chap with big shoes who looked like a scientist or a doctor found me standing having lunch at an abandoned table outside the dining area (it was full) and he asked me, “je cherche des statistiques de recherche de la rougeole pour l’Afrique subsaharienne?” and he might as well have been speaking Meru to me, so I did what you would have done, I pointed at the Nigerian in the room.

Another thing I noticed is that these people speak in their own special language, a language that seemed to have been conceived in Peru. You can stand with a group of these chaps for five minutes and not get what they are saying. Theirs is an inelastic language expunged of apostrophes and parentheses. It’s stoic and cerebral and to understand it you have to say, “I’m sorry?” many times.

And nobody wants to utter the word “problem.” It seemed like the easiest way to get your license revoked is to utter the word “problem” There are no problems here, just challenges. Conversations at teatime are murmured gravely. Heads bowed in a circle. Nobody seemed to laugh freely. Laughing was seen as a weakness that shouldn’t be aired proudly even though they have many reasons to light up, I mean 4 out of 5 children in Africa now receive vital immunization. Polio has almost been run off the continent. Vaccine usage has gone up since 1990 and saved millions of children. But no. They won’t pat themselves on the back just yet because they are scientists and before they crack a smile they will travel to the farthest and remotest part of Africa to save a child. So they frown and huddle in corners murmuring with their spectacles precariously balanced at the tip of their noses while they peer at reports with graphs and pie-charts and they refuse to utter the word “problem”. It’s admirable but it’s also dry.

You know that expression “you hang with the wolves you learn to howl”? The journalists who write about science look like researchers themselves. Most of them at least. They are humourless and focused. All they want to talk about is the Abuja Declaration, Geneva Resolution and Lwanda Endorsement. They are keen and intelligent. They read journals and reels of global health information. And they don’t forget. I sat in a press conference and heard them ask questions, my goodness!

Journalists are known to be fun loving. I have been on numerous media trips abroad and normally after the day’s work is done, people hit the bar. There was no hitting a bar in Addis with these guys. I suspect they spent the evening poring over the day’s notes, listening to speeches again and making notes on their pads and then falling asleep on one side of the bed. That’s after praying for the good health of children. And abandoned animals.

I was even afraid to suggest to some that we catch pints after. They would probably have looked at me aghast and ask, “A pint? A PINT? You want to catch a PINT now? Do you know what percentage of children still die from measles?”

“Uhm, 2%?”

“14%!”

“Did you know that measles, rubella and neonatal tetanus have been eliminated in most parts of the world but still remain widespread in Africa?”

“Well, no.”

“And you still want to ‘catch a PINT!’ ”

Staring at my feet. “I just thought that…”

“I don’t think you thought this through, Mr…”

“Biko.”

“You really didn’t think this through, Mr. Biko. Because if you had you wouldn’t want to catch a pint when our work here isn’t done!”

“It’s just a pint, Jesus, I’m not saying we steal vaccines!”

“We are not here to write about popular culture or the architecture of hotel establishments or pool attendants. This is not some trip where you sip cocktails at sundowners and ask what cheese is in the bread. This is about children….CHILDREN, Biko! This is about getting them immunized. This is about life and death and we are here to beat death, not catch PINTS!”

“OK, don’t spit it, just say it. I get it, death to diseases. People should take their kids to be immunized. No pints. Pints are bad. I think I will just go up to my room now.”

“You do that! Go watch Movie Magic! Go admire Clooney’s chin. We will be here, saving our children from DISEASES!!”

Suffice it to say I didn’t dare ask anyone to go catch pints. I spent time with Mercy from the Standard Newspaper and Ochieng from Sci.Dev.net, the only people who seemed to have a smile left in them.

Of course I’m envious of these people. This is all about envy because while I write about healthy smoothies, these people are doing more purposeful things with their talent and with impact you can quantify. They are saving children. Or writing about children who are saved and children who need to be saved or about issues that influence policy.

If you are going to take anything from this piece it’s only one thing; take your child to be immunized. OK, maybe two things; we can save children from DTP 3, pneumonia and still have pints. Surely.
Cover Image Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

2
155 Comments
    1. “Wooo Hooo!!”? Really? You’re going to say Wooo Hooo when there is a child dying from lack of immunization in Mali? You dare say Wooo Hooo when there are policies to be made and vaccines to be developed? How can you say Wooo Hooo when there is so much to be written about child immunuzation issues in Kenya? “Did you know that measles, rubella and neonatal tetanus have been eliminated in most parts of the world but still remain widespread in Africa?” Do you know? Now here is what we do, write another comment down there “about science, policy and DTP-3. And supply chain”.:) 🙂 🙂

      1
      1. Wesh! You killed it!!

        I read this article while at a workshop about Digital Health Innovation, you know, making healthcare accessible to women and children through digital innovation, yaani, simu nini nini. Trust you me, I didn’t ask anyone for pints afterwards!

  1. A great read and an eye opener. Children need to be protected by us parents, family and the society at large. It’s a collective responsibility to ensure a healthy and productive society.

  2. Very conscious thoughts Biko! Thank you. There people out there suffering much more that we can ever imagine.We should do much more to help them.

  3. “She said she just loved how men sit when they cradle an infant in their arms, as if they want to stand; straight back, shoulders squared out, a confused but conquering look on their faces, like they are carrying an unpredictable missile, but also a missile they wouldn’t mind getting blown up by.”

    A parent should never have to bury their child.. but as we all know, death has no chills.

    1. I’m with you on this one…. By tomorrow I’ll already be checking my email for an update from Biko #sigh

    1. Hahahaha, I was woo hooing to being the firstto comment, after I read the article, i felt sad though 🙁

      1. Lol…so you ‘wooo hood’ just from seeing a new post or rather getting the notification of a new post? 🙂

  4. There are so many things wrong with our world. Sometimes it’s heartening to know that someone’s trying to make it right. I believe the children are our future…and all that.

  5. Also…Addis is one of my favourite cities. I hope, at some point, you said bugger it all and went to the bar. You gotta eat *drink*, right? No? Ok.

  6. Most definitely. Wow. Blown away as always. And I too find it sexy that a man should carry their child. Its shouting responsibility and humility as well. Pole Sana to your friend who lost a son.

  7. Ha ha I feel you big bro. Your fingers working the magic as ever with words. I can imagine how you were giving that “I-know-what-you-are-talking-about” face yet deep inside you felt the guilt of lying to yourself. Nice piece to kick off the month.

    1. I think biko decided to ‘discipline’ us because some people didn’t like the idea of guestwriters, but all in all he should let us know whatever happened. I would also like to know what happened to joe munuve’s laptop. It has been a long time.

  8. According to the 2014 KDHS, infant mortality is 39 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality is 52 deaths per 1,000 live births. This means that 1 in 20 children dies before their fifth birthday. This is less than half the under-five mortality rate published in the 2003 KDHS when more than 2 in 20 children did not survive until their fifth birthday (115 deaths per 1,000 live births). Neonatal mortality and infant mortality have also declined since 2003.

    Under-five mortality is lowest in Central region (42 deaths per 1,000 live births for the 10 years before the survey) and highest in Nyanza (82 deaths per 1,000 live births).

    But still this isn’t worth a smile..

  9. Beautifully written. Most children below the age of 5 die of preventable diseases and it commendable that people are working toward alleviating such challenges. Thank you for creating awareness among your readers on immunization.

  10. Awesome and yeah losing a child is downright devastating. .
    We save the children and catch a pint.. surely!
    Haha..The convos in your head gets me on the floor always

  11. I am a research scientist and all I do with my director is sit through WebEx meetings, churning out data, talking gender empowerment, pouring out acronyms, and getting excited at collecting new scientific journals(we compete on who has the best journals), and after every 5 seconds laugh after saying, “iterations of previous studies should be conducted with more gender inclusiveness lest BMGF gives us less money” that is not funny but after a while that’s the only joke you have. Also having a Webex with a Ugandan whose accent is deep is also a reason to laugh. Thing is, you are important because every Tuesday I stop reading about the Impact of farmer to farmer extension in Bangalore, and read some Bikozulu, I will laugh and not share it with anyone in the office as we gave up our quest for social acceptance for cabbage gardening and research analytics. Do you.

  12. ” These are men who might work heavy machines during the day, or shout at a group of other men in a boardroom at lunch or have other men salute as they duck through entrances but when they carry a baby in their arms, they are diminished, reduced to something so bare, singular and transparent.” This is beautiful. Well put Biko. You are a gem boss. Keep doing your thing. Salute.

  13. When you stand in a room full of these guys you realise that the amount of intelligence, the collective brain matter in that space is so intense that it outweighs the room and numbs it…Hehehe. Who says that?? Anyway great read, as one who comes from this part of the world where the statistics of immunization, number of mothers that do not have to die while giving birth, ratio of doctors to patients, children who can be saved through simple interventions…I get you. Bu damn, we did not have to look that boring. We are not that boring…mostly 🙂

  14. Like he’s going for a fundraiser hehehehe.nice one.
    But it’s so sad to lose our little one’s just because we were too busy/ignorant to take them for a jab. How do we fight Zika if Malaria is still a big issue?!

  15. How to recognize symptoms of pneumonia. Uneven breathing. Quick intervention where there is no doctor…pre own a baby facemask. Its a plastic gadget covers the nose and mouth on one end and has a space for an inhaler on the other end.. Connect ventolin inhaler on the the other end and pump four puffs. Hold the face mask firmly for five minutes. As the airways open..the breathing evens out. And you can prepare to rush baby to hospital.

    1. Hi J,that’s not right..The management above is for asthma.Ventolin doesn’t help.O2 will….if needed Go the doctor’s as fast as you can to help the child

  16. Biko these very serious people who don’t know how to smile are good and are necessary, BUT you make us smile and laugh and smile some more when we recall your words when sitting in a very boring meeting that doesn’t seem to end, that’s very purposeful I tell you, so you need not be envious of those eggheads.

  17. you scared the shit out of me with death parallels but jolted me to the need to take the little one for their jabs.a pint to you and me!

  18. Yes, children should not die;;;;;;parents lets avoid what can b avoided…whats s inevitable we leave it to God

  19. I would be sure never to want to attend those conventions.Everybody has his place coz hata vidole hazitoshani.Your place is in the bar Biko

  20. Awesome piece Forehead guy. No one should let their child die because they lacked immunization. That’s negligence. Imagine the life that toddler will miss!! Missing even the writings on “popular culture or the architecture of hotel establishments or pool attendants. About some trip where you sip cocktails at sundowners and ask what cheese is in the bread” 🙂 Take them to the clinic and let the doctor put a thermometer in their butt if need be. To saving children from DISEASES and not merely taking pints 🙂

  21. For a moment I got scared and wondered whether the vaccine that my child is being immunized with contains those essential elements.

  22. I was so sad when I read the part about burying babies but you made it better towards the end.. Thanks Biko

  23. I love how you threw a curveball. it looked it was going to be some mushy story of how to be a good man/father or how babies are cute, then next sentence DEATH.

  24. That was a very good read biko. No child child should be lost of anything on this sun. Wooi thinking of my cousin who lost a very healthy baby to renal failure.
    Ps: Biko if you want to know more of that language can you read community health books.

  25. Believe me, the mundane talk carries on into the pub (..airport lounge, coffee break, dinner, taxi… name it). Spending the best part of your youth buried in scientific journals will have that effect on your (lack of) socialization. Not all gloom, in their rooms they are also quietly reading from good writers (that is you Biko) & may now catch that pint (if you can take the measles talk over it … hehehe)

  26. I have to agree with the lady a man carrying a baby is sexy.. I have accompanied my Missus to take our 3 month old baby to get his vaccines and the number of women to men in that room is like 20:1. Men we need to be more sexy and be more involved in the lives of our young ones..go to the clinic and learn one or two new things.

  27. If only all parts of Kenya received these vaccines..There always seems to be a shortage..yet some MCA and governor somewhere r busy going to CONGO for benchmarking.nkt

  28. Death a child leaves such a vacuum in the parents. No parent should lose their little ones. Deaths that can be avoided should be avoided. Let that kid be immunized.

    Biko, it baffles me how you always turn every story to a master piece. This is beautifully written.

  29. Baba Tamms, don’t sell yourself short buddy. Even God, in his infinite wisdom did not create all flowers as roses,all birds as Eagles, all mammals as Lions nor all trees as Mahogany. We each have our unique roles to play in this tapestry known as Life. I for one salute you, for the humour you inject into our lives with your ordained wordplay! Thank you Jackson!!

  30. Yes,let’s have our women and children Vaccinated. Loved reading, it tickled my mind to find public health policies being preached here!

  31. Really, if you can’t just whistle in the shower of hum a tune, and not have a pint, you are simply BORING!!

  32. “You do that! Go watch Movie Magic! Go admire Clooney’s chin. We will be here, saving our children from DISEASES!!”

    hehe that would have stung

  33. Oooh wow!!what a read!i feel very enlightened,for the 15minutes or so that i took to read this piece,i felt like i was right there in Addis,with you Biko,in that conference,questioning everything i know about the importance and the sensitivity around this matter of vaccinating a child.

  34. That sexy moment after class you access the Internet because Tuesday’s are for Biko. Then while reading the article, you notice a positive correlation between what you just learnt in class(on Economy Demography) and what you are reading in the article(sexy coincidence). I managed a smile though ;-). Nice read

  35. Love science, science will live forever. Thanks for the merger; humour and science. It sinks the message deeper.

  36. Beautifully written .
    I cringe every time I hear a child’s cry.
    How I wish we could put more effort to their well being .

  37. Hahaha I totally agree with you Biko. I’m a communications intern in a research institution and I spend 90% of my time trying to get guys smiling.

  38. Good read…its sad they way many things happen around us but we never take a moment to look at the things bedeviling our society and coming up with ways of dealing with them

  39. I dont know what to think…on one hand I was immunised..yet theres information today linking vaccines with autism and other disorders and of course the constituents of these vaccines such as mercury and formaldehyde(the stuff they use in mortuaries). I wouldnt want to expose my child to said poisons…but I dont want him/her to get polio either…is there a middle ground? what solutions did our forefathers have access to? Just humbly seeking answers..no trolling here

  40. “je cherche des statistiques de recherche de la rougeole pour l’Afrique subsaharienne?” and he might as well have been speaking Meru to me, so I did what you would have done, I pointed at the Nigerian in the room….lol

  41. Wonderful piece Biko. Now that you’re back, how did the missus take the previous post on Tamm’s diary?

  42. “je cherche des statistiques de recherche de la rougeole pour l’Afrique subsaharienne?” meaning anyone???

  43. You should come to a water conference. It’s not as depressing . and all the posters and logos are some shade of blue and white. Water science is fun!

  44. Am going against the grain here with the ‘awesome read’ folk. To be honest, I did not care much for this blog today. Biko, your an honest and very well learned writer but this blog was a little disjointed and frankly all over the place. I found reading it difficult, not only for you as the writer but for the children and families who have experienced grief due to the lack of awareness on child immunization. For sombre subjects such as these, perhaps adopting a different writing style where it engages the audience without forcing the audience to get the humour surrounding the events as you did in this article, perhaps approach it in a ‘matter of fact’ way. Am not a writer and no I have never attended such a conference. Just my opinion as an avid reader and fan.

    1. Of course you are not a writer otherwise you would know the difference between your and you’re. For ‘sombre’ pieces, there are so many journals to be found at doctors’ waiting rooms.

  45. You see the problem of reading webmd n googling stuff on the net….you end up telling people the wrong way to treat an illness, yet there are people who have studied 6 years… 10 years to obtain that info.
    Take the child to a certified doctor asap, is what you should do. Forget J and his post.

  46. Great piece as always. True to it, the pain of losing a child is unfathomable. We’ll have to die first before putting it in words. And for that, I wanna echo your sentiments Biko. If there’s something we could all do to prevent this unutterable pain of losing kids before they call u daddy and just before we hold them with our sinewy, loving arms, hell, let’s do it because its true, kids don’t even look like anyone living. They look like ancestors. Or departed freedom fighters. They are blessings. Little bundles of joy. The better version of us. Let’s protect them with our lives if that’s what it takes. Immunization is their ticket to life. Grant them. http://nairobidailynews.com/stories/nostalgia-ii/

  47. I’m a mum but holding newborns has always freaked me out. They seem so tiny, so fragile and I normally avoid visiting friends who’ve just given birth. What I do is to visit after kedu three months..I’m okay with holding a three-month old baby…when I had my baby I don’t know how I got through the newborn stage, I guess instinct kicked in..but it was lovely when she filled out and became round, chubby and I didn’t feel like I was dislocating an arm when I was holding her.
    It has been easier covering some of these conferences when invited as part of the media…but media in International conferences surely outdo themselves when it comes to partying, and drinks and food is in plenty…I’ve never been to a scientific conference though…that must have been a very quiet, serious crowd there in Ethiopia.

  48. I once, very recently actually, sat in a room with about 100 guys going on and on about a topic titled “sustainable interventions aimed at economic growth and development with a particular focus on climatic and environmental resilience” so I felt you this one.

  49. Welcome to the humanitarian world Biko. The dress code is definitely black, navy blue, grey and dull. I agree with you and its only challenges faced and mitigating factors against them.

  50. Wait until you are stuck with WASH and Health experts in a cluster meeting and it is your first job. More than half of the time is spent trying to figure out what the acronyms mean..

  51. Go watch movie magic… and that pointing of the Nigerian #Idied
    Great piece. Only u can write about such a piece and instead of one leaving sad they actually end up smiling.

  52. You keep writing about smoothies, it may not kick all diseases out of Africa but it sure as hell makes my day any day!!

  53. >>>>Babies are generally sexy. But not when they are born. When they are born they are unsightly.<<<>>>But then they start taking shape. Their cheeks fill out. Their eyes brighten…..<<<<

    1. Biko, we need an edit button. This is what I meant to jot down:

      >>>Babies are generally sexy. But not when they are born. When they are born they are unsightly.<<>>But then they start taking shape. Their cheeks fill out. Their eyes brighten…..<<<

  54. One thing I will never understand though, is why diseases eradicated eons ago in other countries still bedevil Mama Africa!! #GreatPieceBiko

  55. Good article Biko At this rate I don’t think I will outgrow your articles!And yes please guys immunize your kids

  56. i think at the end of the day what matters is that without lying to yourself, you can give an answer to “does what i do have purpose?” i think yours do..perhaps even more than you know..great piece.

  57. How you are able to bring light to such a subject without sounding boring is outstanding Biko. That’s why you’re my mentor. Hope to be as good as you. Writing stuff that impacts the world but with a twist and easy on the eyes.

    abantugirl.wordpress.com

  58. “je cherche des statistiques de recherche de la rougeole pour l’Afrique subsaharienne?” and he might as well have been speaking Meru to me, so I did what you would have done, I pointed at the Nigerian in the room.
    Biko Biko Biko

  59. Today March 4th, 4yrs old Obiero was buried at his fathers home in Siaya. He died yesterday after ailing for a week. When he was last taken to the hospital doctors said he had malaria. Ofcourse he was on medication but died just when the father was trying to get a boda boda to return him to hospital. It breaks my heart. Such a young innocent soul to die from malaria and get buried hours later just because the family can’t afford morgue fee and burial expenses. Looking at how much money the country wastes away makes one wonders just how equipped and easy it can be to save Obieros. I feel for that mother who had to bury his son just because she couldn’t access proper medical for her son. It feels so helpless! RIP Obiero

  60. I have arrived late here, mistresses fault not mine. Took my child for her first hpeB (insert a know it all grin here) immunization with my wife, sat waiting for the queue to move, popped out my phone, clicked link to Bikozulu and found this edifying article on immunization. Thankyou Biko. Oh and when I read about the pint, the little one sneered at me…..lets not also read of pint while taking them for immunization.

  61. Because Ochieng’ is my Auncle I am shocked he was smiling. it is true those journalists are like scientists. Let’s save the children. Thanks for the reminder

  62. Ati ask the Nigerian… Hahahaha. I totally relate to that. Nice to know I’m not the only one who’s employed that evasive manoeuvre before.

    I was recwntly at some all-African convention, when some guy comes up to me and starts hurling an endless string of French breathlessly at me. Confused, I grabbed some nearby West African-looking fellow and ducked, leaving my female counterparts there.

    I later came to find out that she gave him her number, and she doesn’t speak French! Sly Nigerian bastard (I think he was Senegalese though, but I’ll irrationally hold Nigeria at fault here). No wonder nobody likes them :-/

  63. I love this article..I work in the humanitarian field and this parlance of ‘coverage’ ‘ increased access’ & ‘utilization’ fills the air.

  64. As usual a really great read. And not just because I work for both UNICEF and unicef, and DPT3 coverage and polio elimination are common talk in the office. I loved how the story span from the boy with his balloon and full suit chewing gum and his sexy father cuddling his baby brother in his arms, to the stiff meeting on immunization and humorless scientists and journalists all under the heading Ethiopia. I expected to read something about Ethiopia and its people and culture. Quite Biko-like the article didnt mention any of this. Great reading.