by Roqeebah Olaoniye
Less than a month after the first news of a cancer patient in need of support broke the Nigerian internet, it has been reported that the lady at the center of it all, Mayowa Shukurat Ahmed, has passed on; hashtag swiftly changing from #SaveMayowa to #RIPMayowa.
Nigerians are not to be dared when it comes to changing moods, switching topics, getting bored or swiftly moving on from a matter as aggressively as their collective attention was drawn to it.
Maybe in another country, matters would have taken a different turn on July 25th when we first heard about Mayowa’s plight. A young entrepreneur with a budding catering and events management career whose Instagram bio still reads as most in her ilk: “A young sexy lady with ambitions. CEO Hands And Fingers Foods – A catering and Event Management Company situated in Lagos”. Maybe in another clime, people would have been hesitant when they heard that one of theirs needed thirty-two million Naira to treat stage IV Ovarian cancer. Maybe they would have done more investigating than picking out available photos of the young lady to make an already heart-wrenching story even more compelling. Maybe they would have needed a little more persuasion than from an actress and a founder of a not-for-profit organization. In fact, one can argue that in many other countries, such a situation would not even have arisen; that the medical facilities in such countries would have been enough to cater to Mayowa Ahmed or anyone in her condition.
Nigeria is not any other clime. Nigeria is a country filled with people ready to bend over backwards for a cause they consider humanitarian. If one of ours needs help that we can offer, we offer our help with as little questioning as possible. Especially if that person had been failed by a government that still cannot provide basic healthcare for her own citizens and that person appears to have also been let down by whatever insurance scheme she was subscribed to.
This was the case with Mayowa, whose Go Fund Me and local bank accounts were overflowing with funds within a mere 3 days after Nigerians took up the campaign. Such is our own distinct ability to feel compassion. Not only had Nigerians raised the thirty-two million Naira she’d requested, within three days, Mayowa Ahmed already had something around eighty million Naira in her local account and a hundred thousand US Dollars in her Go Fund Me account.
Then there came the brief but very intense episode about whether the cause was a scam or not. Nigerians paid rapt attention to this as we wondered whether or not we had been swindled collectively. The air was cleared and it was at this point, I believe, Nigerians stopped paying attention.
Yesterday, news broke that 31 year old Mayowa finally gave up in a hospital in South Africa and so high was our level of disinterest that no major blogsite reported news of her death until hours after the rumours surfaced. One might argue that none of the sites wanted to take the leap to report the News considering the backlash fell upon the blog that first reported that the whole cause was scam. My theory though is that Nigerians have moved on and the twitter tributes that rolled in for the fighter is probably the last we’ll hear of all this.
That should not be the case though. While it was commendable how we removed ourselves from the cynicism that other countries shroud themselves in, it won’t be in good fashion for us let this get swept up in thin air like many others that had happened before.
So now that Mayowa is gone, questions should start being asked about what is left of the huge sums of money that was raised for her treatment. We should be asking how much was spent in the short period between when the money was raised and when she died and how the money was spent.
No, that’s not lack of empathy and cynicism; we are not asking for it back. In fact, we think the family of Mayowa Ahmed would do well to supply this information before we start asking. And when the information is supplied, we would like to see our collective strong sense of affection for others as shown to Mayowa reciprocated by the family when they set up a structure where the remainder of the monies are disbursed to a like cause to #SaveOtherMayowaAhmeds.