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And if we could pass the exams - and they were extremely difficult, with no leakages or cheating - we could still count it a privilege to be able to go to high school. In fact it was even a privilege to get good employment. Yet we were happy. No air pollution; no population explosion or tribal wars; just good, fresh country air, and a rich variety of African biota. Yes, malaria and other diseases were rampant; and there were no hospitals or even dispensaries anywhere nearby. But people always had a way of dealing with their health problems. There were plenty of natural substances, including medicinal plants - which were widely used and respected.
I could always see my step-grandmother crushing herbs in a small pot in the backyard or grinding some powder on a huge stone in the plantain to treat some condition in the family or in the neighborhood. The value of any drug she dispensed out was greatly enhanced by the power of suggestion, with the possibility that any innocuous substance administered under the right conditions of suggestion and belief could have dramatic healing effects. Belief in the power of a drug was, however, not limited to traditional medicine. Clinical trials using placebos would always result in a percentage of cases responding to the "drug". For this very reason, it was extremely difficult to study possible medicinal properties of certain plant species and correlate findings with traditional uses.
This is clearly exemplified by the "grapple plant" (Harpogophytum procumbens), which, for many years now has become Africa's pre-eminent medicinal plant, known in Europe and the USA as "Devil's Claw". I was now over the puberty age; well grown-up and sensible, and this was when I took greater interest in traditional medicine. Of course, it was in line with my step-grandmother's desire and I enjoyed it. There was now a rural dispensary some few kilometers away from home, built by some church organization; and I was always wondering why Western medicine had never bothered or even Microgaming casinos bonus payouts to our indigenous herbs as sources of new therapeutic agents, given their prominence and effectiveness in our own traditions.
Then one Saturday afternoon I came back from the farm where Microgaming casinos bonus payouts had been picking coffee with my grandfather, as it was just about Christmas and schools were closed. I was carrying a bundle of firewood, and headed straight to a little enclosure in the backyard Microgaming casinos bonus payouts we called a "kitchen". I found my step-grandmother lying on her tummy by the kitchen door. And she couldn't get up. I didn't realize it then, but she was unconscious. I lifted her arm and tried to pull her from the door. There was no reaction from her. I ran back to my grandfather for help. We hurriedly came back to the kitchen. Microgaming casinos bonus payouts grandfather walked over to where she lay.
She suddenly lifted her head and looked up, but her eyes just couldn't focus. She cast a remote glance at me, and then with all the strength her frail body could muster she defiantly attempted a faint smile. Then she died. And we all Microgaming casinos bonus payouts bitterly. The world had collapsed around me. My own heroine dead. Why. Sadly, the next day our family - together with neighbours, relatives, and friends tenderly carried the wooden coffin bearing the remains of my step-grandmother up to the maize field edging the little coffee farm and buried her. We put Microgaming casinos bonus payouts hastily made wooden cross over the freshly dug grave, just as the sun was setting over the hills on the horizon.
And then we solemnly walked back home. Secretly, for many days, I would go up to visit her at her grave and talk to her. But she did not answer. There was no more pounding or crushing of herbs in that small pot in the backyard, nor was there any more grinding of the powder in the plantain. Grandmother was gone. It was then I came to grips with the reality of death. But time has its own way of erasing sorrow and heal wounds. I was soon back to class, and grew up into a young man and graduated into high school. One day, a distant relative by the name of Simon came home for a visit and asked me to give Microgaming casinos bonus payouts company to a little lake nearby to buy some fish.
I reluctantly accepted, because I had some homework to do. Soon after coming back home, a shrill voice came persistently calling from the direction of the maize field. We all rushed out of the building because of the urgency accompanying the call. It was a neighbour telling us that grandfather had collapsed suddenly while selling charcoal at a little shop around the corner, and he needed quick assistance. We rushed over and I followed a relative with a bicycle to help carry him to the dispensary. For three days we took turns sitting by his bedside but all of us knew quietly that this vigil was hopeless. The clinical officer at the dispensary suggested he be transferred Microgaming casinos bonus payouts the district referral hospital some eighty kilometers away.
We all agreed. There was no ambulance or reliable public transport, so we had to look for alternative means. Finally, the old man was admitted at the district hospital; and this was two days later. He was constantly moaning and complaining of severe stomach pains. An ultrasound of the abdomen revealed a pancreatic tumor, with laboratory tests showing high levels of blood glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol. An exploratory laparatomy a week later, revealed a neoplastic tumour of the pancreas with possible hepatic involvement.
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