Read-to-Live Series: How I lost 2 of my best friends to Early & Sudden Death!

Alamieyeseigha …died of heart attach recently
Early this
week, I (Author of this work) learned of the sudden death of my one time
classmate in the primary school.  He was
an ex-senior civil servant who retired some three years ago.  He reportedly suffered a massive heart attack
and died without an earlier indication of any health problem.  That was the second of such sudden death by a
fellow clan’s man of mine within a month. 

3 weeks
earlier, a popular preacher who hailed from the same village with me had
collapsed in the church and died before any substantial medical assistance
could be rendered.  The doctor reportedly
said that he suffered a massive stroke. 
What a double shocker to my small clan!
a little remote clan of barely five thousand in population, experiencing the
sudden death of its two prominent citizens within a space of three weeks. The
victims were both in their mid-fifties and the three of us were school mates in
the primary school.  Apart from growing
up together, the three of us maintained close contact all along.  While the retired civil servant was a
university graduate, the “Apostle” did not quite make the primary school
leaving certificate, otherwise, socio-economically, they could be said to be
very alike in many significant ways.
addition to being from the same rural neighborhood and dying so close together,
the ex-civil servant and the “Apostle” (the title he acquired as part of the
calling), belonged to the so called middle class, known in the Nigerian
parlance as those who have “made it”. 
Needless to say that in a rural traditional setting like the one we came
from, rumors were plenty with stories of bad deeds associated with sudden death
of such popular individuals. 
this to have happened to two of our very few prominent individuals, not only
their close relatives and associates, but the entire community must stand
suspect in many foul ways.  Witches,
wizards, evil medicines by some competitors, some retrogressive designs of the
community itself, or some evil deeds of the victims themselves are only a few
of the innumerable explanations for such deaths in most Nigerian communities.  My unfortunate clan’s men certainly could not
escape such rumors, so it is not necessary for me to go into the specifics that
literally filled the ears with regard to the death of my clansmen.
“Wives and concubines
for the man, mates and aggressively intrusive young ladies that make the life
of the aging middle class Nigerian woman a living hell, let alone native
doctors or other spiritual men and women, who are constant companions that most
middle class Nigerians consider essential for their survival”.
recent years, there have been many similar deaths of well-to-do middle-aged individuals
from our clan, some as young as in their thirties.  I know that this situation is not unique to
those from my community.  It is often
that one hears of similar deaths in almost every community in Nigeria these
days.  One common factor in the sudden
death of these relatively young individuals has been that they are economically
better-off than the average Nigerian. 
Another point is that the cause of death in virtually every case appears
or is confirmed to be either heart attack or stroke.
briefly, the two factors of being well-to-do and cause of death appear to be
closely related in virtually every case. 
The victims are affluent, compared to the average Nigerian and, from the
viewpoint of Western medicine; they reportedly died of heart attack or stroke.  It is therefore in place at this stage to
examine the relationship between being well-to-do and sudden death from heart
attack or stroke among unfortunate Nigerians who might as well be anyone of us
any day.  This is not to say that every
case of sudden death is due to heart attack or stroke or that only the affluent
die suddenly or die from these diseases. 
The point being presented here is the issue of what happens more often
than anything else, which may not necessarily apply to every case.
Who is an Affluent
are that you reading this material are affluent, a middle-class Nigerian,
applying that yardstick for the purpose of this work rather loosely.  Like my two clan’s men who died suddenly, you
could be a top brass of one of the various religious orders or a senior civil
servant.  You could be a top or aspiring
businessman or businesswoman, a politician, a military officer, a bourgeoning
native doctor, a traditional ruler, a musician, a lawyer, a police officer, an
enterprising market woman, even a medical doctor or a nurse.  Maybe you are a university educated teacher
or a university lecturer.  You may have
retired or ceased to be active in any of the enumerated positions, or you are
earning your living in some other way but you earn above the average Nigerian.  You belong to the group that are generally
seen by neighbors as having “made it”.  You are therefore affluent or a middle class
this class of individuals really have in common is the fact that they make more
money or have more economic resources than the average Nigerian. They are
affluent Nigerians.  Even when retired or
no longer in active service, these individuals generally maintain an above
average socio-economic status in their respective communities, if not as
Nigerians in general.  They are not only
able to afford enough to eat but can afford to consume more than enough,
usually much of the highly valued but costly foods, drinks and accessories,
which ordinary Nigerians cannot afford. 
In other words, they live and eat like “big men” and “big women”.
that much to eat, the average middle class or affluent Nigerian tends to put on
some weight, sometimes a lot of weight. 
For the man, potbelly or “big man
is a common sign of achievement, or “evidence of good living”, as the saying goes.  The woman simply loses shape or even
balloons, as nature has provided women more storage room all over. “Making it”
is usually self-evident in the average Nigeria; it shows! This appears to be a
cultural value which is difficult to take away from the Nigerian who has made
it.  This particular point was
graphically illustrated in my experience with my late sister-in-law when I
newly returned home from post-graduate studies abroad.
my sister-in-law had no formal education, she was very vast in the values of
our society.  After a month or two of my
return, my excited sister-in-law had a solemn and private session with me and
said the following:
“My good in-law, you
don try! You take your wife go oversea come. 
Una born pikin come from there. You read book so-tay you be doctor for
book. You don buy car and you dey bill house now.  Wan tin still remain for you, E don reach for
you to get big man belle!  Na dat one
remain for you now”.
far as my well-meaning in-law was concerned, “big man belle” is a necessary
evidence of achievement for the Nigerian and she did not want me to miss out on
that. It certainly would have broken her heart to find that after some twenty
years, I still have not attained that Nigerian yardstick for being a big
man.  While it may not be every affluent
or middle class Nigerian that understands this value of conspicuous consumption
as did my sister-in-law or observes the rule, many of them do. For example, I
recently met a long time associate of mine who was then a Sole Administrator in
one of the Local Government Councils in my state. His bulging “big man belle” was obnoxiously large and he conspicuously displayed it as a
badge of honor which he did not want anyone to miss.  Seeing the way he carried the belly, I
sarcastically remarked: “evidence of good living shows all over you!”  His face beamed with unbelievable radiance of
satisfaction as if my remark was a full dividend for his monumental investment
as he responded with a nod of supreme appreciation: “Oh yah!  Oh yah!
important aspect of the affluent Nigerian is sedentary life. As you achieve
more, eat more, put on more weight, you have less need and ability to run
around or physically exert yourself. 
This includes any routine exercise since only very few who have “made
it” can afford the time, the zeal or the energy for physical strain.  That is probably what “making it” is about in
the Nigerian context.
if you do not put on excessive weight as a middle class Nigerian, the privilege
of eating plenty of the highly priced animal protein foods, which most
Nigerians like very much, is ironically loaded with the prospect of a stroke or
heart attack.  Unfortunately, this is a
medical reality that will be explained later in this book.
too, being an affluent Nigerian is not all rosy.  The process of becoming and remaining
affluent inherently involves stress, a lot of stress, especially psychological
stress.  You have to keep pace with the
demands of your calling, including your numerous competitors, who will do
almost anything to unseat you in your scarce but privilege position.  You also have a lot of personal problems to
keep you awake at night: endless number of extended family members who look up
to you for almost everything.  Wives and
concubines for the man, mates and aggressively intrusive young ladies that make
the life of the aging middle class Nigerian woman a living hell, let alone
native doctors or other spiritual men and women, who are constant companions
that most middle class Nigerians consider essential for their survival.  Whatever may or may not apply to you, one
thing is sure, as a Nigerian who has made it, you are guaranteed never to be
short of issues to rob you of sleep most nights.
From the Book; “Early and Sudden Death; the Price of Affluence among
(Read “How Stroke
& Heart Attack kills Naija Big Men” tomorrow on Asabeafrika).