The Death of a Child and Lack of Humanity

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This arrangement was to carry on until Onus’s achieved eighteen months in age, and then he became very sick and was admitted to Baragwaneth’s ICU for the last time. For the next couple of months Hubby, John and my mother visited Onus three times a week, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and the usually Saturday afternoon. The fact that Onus died, is not the issue here, as it was expected and Hubby, John and my mother were resigned to the inevitable, but the utter callousness of the hospital staff when he did. 

I have alluded to the dedication of the doctors, but that did not apply to the hospitals administrators. In the last few weeks of Onus’s life he had been admitted to ICU, and the visits of the intrepid three had been curtailed to one on Saturday afternoon. Onus died on a Monday and even though our home telephone number was on record, not one of the hospital staff thought that the mother of the dying child would like to be present in his last hours. So needless to say no telephone call was forthcoming. Hubby, John and my mother discovered that Onus had passed on to what some believe is a better world, all alone attached to tubes, wires and in total indifference to his suffering by the very people who had taken an oath to uphold the dignity of their patients, two days after his death. 

Some would like to blame the Apartheid regime, and point to the degrading laws that kept the natives subjugated and in dire poverty, but I cannot, the very same subjugated people were in charge of Onus and they were the ones that could not find in their humanness the compassion to notify the mother of a dying child and offer the solace of just being there to attend the last hours of her beloved offspring. Today I often hear the words uttered by the liberated blacks of this country that they are, “a human being just like you”, I have a small problem every time I hear this phrase. 

The problem is that to be a human being one has to understand the meaning of humane and by what is happening in South Africa today, the rape of babies, senseless murders and a general middle finger for the laws of the country, but not least, to the way the death of Onus was handled by the very same human beings. So Onus was returned to the very earth that he is supposed to have originated from. My mother did not attend the funeral as it took place in Soweto and the Apartheid police were not in favour of whites entering the township and definitely not a white woman. I have no idea in which cemetery in Soweto Onus was laid to rest, but the chances of finding the grave are slim to none. 

Onus died in my fifth year of life and hardly disturbed the rhythms of our family life, in what manner it affected Hubby I have no idea as after taking a weeks leave she was back at work her usual smiling self. The stoicism and fatalistic view that is taken and observed by the natives in Africa has never ceased to amaze me. Whether it is drought, pestilence, or subjugation either by Apartheid or their own indigenous governments, the general population just gets on with their lives, almost mirroring the concept of karma. 

I am not suggesting that there are not members of the population that do not agitate for change, but that they are in the minority. As long as there is a promise of a better life for all, the majority of the population is prepared to carry on their lives irrespective of their own personal circumstances in the belief that their leaders will work for their up-liftment and economic salvation, it never occurs to them that the people that make all these promises are lying or worse are only working for their own enrichment. 

Lots of hugs and more,

Peggy-Sven

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