Story of a traditional midwife (Ngozoma)

Maternal and child mortality has been the concern of many nations, many organizations; governmental and non-governmental organizations have seen it a great responsibility to breach the tide. Nigeria has not been an exception, data by the United Nations reveals that the infant mortality rate for Nigeria currently in 2020 is  59.181 deaths per 1000 live births. There has been a decline in the mortality rate in Nigeria.

This success is mostly ascribed to the UNICEF and other related governmental and non-governmental organizations. What about the local birth attenders (midwives) in the rural areas?Tracing back to history, the society values the contributions of those that aid during child delivery, they are regarded as traditional birth attenders. However, the modern society is now encouraging professional consultancy by health care centers. Many campaigns were geared towards delivery at hospitals and health care centres, attending antenatal, but does that take away poverty and lack of accessible health care centres in all rural areas in the country? In as much as poverty exist, the role of traditional birth attendants in some rural areas cannot be undermined.  This is a story of a traditional birth attendant who did not go to school, but the entire community of hers looks unto her.“My name is Christian Musa, but popularly known as Nana Dinge. I was born around 1950s in Old Shani, popularly known as Tsohon Shani. I grew up without attending or acquiring any form of western education due to the belief of my family that women should not be allowed to go to school. Not only that, but the entire community as of then did not believe in allowing their children to attend any conventional school by the white men. But the major challenge that restrained many from attending school as of then is that there were no schools in the community or any nearby community.“The only thing that we used to do then was to go fishing, even at that, it is not for commercial purpose. That was how I grew up. I later met a man (Musa Yukureni) who is late now and was married to him. I stayed like that without any work except fishing and farming till when the story changed when white men from Denmark visited our community.

“This white men from Denmark spread out in the community looking for people to work with. Though they came for missionary work, but still made provision to teach different trades for community development. This has not been easy for many people to join because of the tradition; they were not ready to forfeit their gods in order to accept a ‘strange god’ as many called it. It was my biggest challenge too. But later I was able join them.“I really thank God for my husband, he has been a support, a pillar and source of encouragement to me even when the community is looking down on us because we accepted what many people in the community termed as ‘a strange god’. For three days, these white men did for us a special training but I chose to learn how to assist in delivery (midwifery)“For more than 50 years now I have been helping my community and considering my service as service to humanity. My family gave me full support and still are giving me the support I needed. Though my husband is late now but until his demise I received his full support, and now my children are my everything.“As any other work, mine is not immune from challenges, I face many challenges that at a point made me to think of quitting. From the start, my community has been a serious challenge, but I accepted to pass through it all because I believed there are greater things ahead. As I am talking to you now, people even from neighbouring community to come here.“I am pleased with what I am doing and I consider it a divine privilege”Considering the effort by government and non-governmental organisations to reduce maternal and child mortality rate, the government are fighting against home delivery; attending antenatal is their key message. Has this stopped Mrs. Christiana from the service to her community?

This is what she has to say.“This has not stopped me from discharging my service, but it has changed the pattern of how I used to work before. As it is now, any woman that comes, I will check and see if there is still time, I will do all I could to help and also refer her to hospital.“I have a good relationship with the hospitals and primary health care in my community. They even use to call me to render assistance if need be. Also I thank God for UNICEF because now I am working as a community volunteer.”In a street interview, the people in her community regarded her as God send. She selflessly offered her service without regard to religious affiliation, ethnic, or even the community one if from. In 2016, Nana Dinge received an award of Honour from Shani Emirate Development Association (SHEDA) for her selfless service to the community.
Musa Luka Musa,
Shani LGA,Borno state08164128842

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