The average life in developed countries has lengthened. For those who live in Europe or the United States of America or Japan, reaching the Third Age (and beyond) is normal. In Japan life expectancy is 83years, in Iceland and in Switzerland 83, in Spain, Liechtenstein and Singapore 82. A long period that crosses all phases of growth: childhood, adolescence, maturity.
In other countries, like in Africa, it is different. Life expectancy is much lower. In all sub-Saharan Africa is below 59 years. If the average life expectancy in the world is 71 years (for children born in 2013), for many of the African countries, the children who are born today, will not live 50 years.
Here people die like insects. Life is too short to have time to appreciate it. Many die immediately after birth or during the first months of life. Others still children or adolescents. For those who survive, death often comes for causes like the bite of a mosquito or for drinking the only available water while knowing it was unclean.
Or because of the lack of care and assistance.
This is the first cause of death in Africa: what is not there. Even more than of malaria, cholera or other epidemics.
Is it possible to die for the first aid box that is missing, for medical services absent or crumbling or for the lack of an ambulance when you need to bring someone to the hospital. As long as the hospital’s there. In many African countries there is no such thing. And when there is, is not enough. Then you can die.
Sad Kijemba was coming home after a day at work. A day began and ended with a route of 200 km by bus on the streets of Uganda. But he didn’t matter. The smile of people may be little for those who live in “developed” countries, but it was enough for him.
As soon as he got off the bus, he slumped to the ground and died without anyone able to do anything. The bus terminal lacked the first aid kit. And there was no ambulance ready to take him to the hospital.
The only thing they were able to do was calling the relatives with the cellphone. That works. Even in Uganda, one of the poorest countries on the planet, where it lacks everything from water to food, from emergency aid to hospitals. But where, as in many other similar countries, the communications network is surprisingly branched and efficient.
This is how you live and die in this wonderful part of the world. A place where colors are so intense as no painter has never been able to represent. Where people laugh when they are really happy. A different place from the ‘ developed ‘ countries.
Somewhere where the Millennium goals, first, and the Sustainable Development Goals, later, have not kept the promises made decades ago. Many of the problems in the poorest areas of the planet are still there. It doesn’t surprise that the media speak less of that. And when they do, they bring in numbers, data, percentages, intangible things. They hardly talk about people.
People like Kijemba, who lived in Africa, a continent where dying like insect is easier than you can imagine. Even easier than dying in one of the many “wars of peace” around the world. But of those who die in these wars, newspapers talk for months.
When you die in Africa, on the other hand, nobody cares. You just die. Like when an insect dies.
Also published on Medium.