A mother of four, Hajia Hassan lives in Bassa Kuomo, an ancient community in Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The people in this community are said to be the original inhabitants of Gwagwalada before it became the Federal Capital Territory.
“Many of our women die from complications arising from childbirth. In Bassa Koumo, if a woman delivers and dies during childbirth, the child will be tied to the body of the dead mother and buried alive with her. If the nursing mother should die of any cause without weaning the baby, the baby will be accused of having strange powers that killed the mother; the penalty for this is also death.” One of the people who chose to be anonymous said.
However, these deaths are majorly caused by lack of functional, accessible and affordable healthcare services. Women don’t get antenatal care; they deliver through the help of TBAs and herbalists who lack the technical know-how of taking delivery or what to do in case of emergencies. When death occurs, they say it is the bad luck of the baby that caused the death and the penalty is also the death of the baby.
Saturday INDEPENDENT’s investigation reveals that the inhabitants are glued to this age long traditional practice and the advent of other religions such as Christianity and Islam, has not made much impact in the people’s culture and belief.
It was found out that there are shrines of gods which the people believe could spell doom on the community if evil newborns are not made to pay the price. Although, no one is willing to speak on this frontally, they all confirmed a very high rate of maternal and infant mortality in the area, which they blamed on the absence of health facilities in the community.
Saturday INDEPENDENT, during the course of this investigation, discovered a village square in Bassa Koumo, where all decisions are taken. Most scary of it all was that, at the centre of the square are situated two big trees. It was gathered that the trees are husband and wife.
One produces its fruits before the other. The community shrine is located there and that is where the dwellers perform the rituals as members of the community are predominantly traditionalists.
At the palace of Aguma of Gwagwalada, His Royal Highness Mohammed Magaji, represented by Alhaji Muhammad Lakaiye, the District Head, Gwagwalada Town, expressed grave concern about the loss of promising young ladies to deaths arising from complications during childbirth.
He appealed to the Area Council Chairman to provide the community with a Primary Healthcare facility to promptly manage cases of complications among women in labour in Bassa Kuomo.
“The lives of many women are cut short in their prime along with their children because of lack of functional, accessible and affordable healthcare services. This has been ongoing for too long a time. I appeal to the government to wake up to their responsibility by providing us with a Primary Healthcare centre,” he appealed.