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Security by Andy Buhler, CUSO, 69-71

Today was Independence Day for Nigeria. Ten years ago today they got their independence from British rule -- I think. So yesterday I went to Asaba to a dance put on by the Seventh Battalion Army. No, I didn’t go with the nurses. I went with Fr. Higgins who offered to put me up for the night. I didn’t dance but enjoyed the music until 10:30 p.m. then off to bed.

Fr. Higgins lives in a great rambling two-story building. It was built in the style of most African buildings -- no ceiling and only a galvanized-tin roof. Walls go up 8-10 feet then stop. The top is thus all open like a barn. A person sneezing in one room can be heard all over the house. It’s not so bad having no ceiling but during the war the army shot quite a few holes in the roof. The lightning flashed all around last night and I prayed for no rain. Someone likes me -- it didn’t rain. This morning I had an early breakfast. Fr. leaves the window shutters open (no glass) to let in light and air. Today they also let in swallows. I am eating my porridge and ducking as swallows swoop past my head. More entertaining than the dance last night.

I came back to Ogwashi-Uku this morning. Drained a pint of blood from a man to sort of start my day. He had high blood pressure. Then I went to see the military march past. It was slated to start at 9:00 a.m. I arrived at 10:00 a.m. and hadn’t missed anything. Quite a nice celebration. All the army, boy scouts, and school children were in uniforms. Also a few service groups paraded past the flag. Then they had six or eight traditional dances. One of my trainees brought me an umbrella to fend off the sun so I stayed quite a while. I went back to the hospital by noon and did a bit of work. This evening the nurses here had a small celebration to commemorate the day. Sr. Mildred had bought some rice and a small goat for a feast. I couldn’t eat any goat as it had been just behind my house for two days bleeting every night like a small child. I really couldn’t eat the poor kid could I?

On the down side -- we had thieves on the compound again last week. They broke into the office and a stores and even tried Sisters’ house before the Sisters heard them and shouted for Watchnight. Sister threatened to sack Watchnight as he never heard the thieves, saw the damage, or heard Sister call. He begged forgiveness, so Sister forgave him and put him to work again. Next night Fr. Beausang was here -- couldn’t get out as no one could find the Watchnight with the gate key. People hollered and shouted. No response. So they set out to look for him -- sound asleep in outpatients and he had to be slapped awake. He was dismissed right away. Now apparently we have two new ones. One bangs a gong every few hours during the night so we know he’s awake (if we hear the gong that is).

Daywatch’s child fell into the fire a week ago -- came in with extensive but low-grade burns. Sister treated him and he was fine that night and the next morning -- then he just expired. Possibly delayed shock. We were very sorry for Daywatch since he loses a child nearly every year according to one of the nurses.

Fr. Golli had his car tire stolen last night. A few weeks ago his house was broken into. He lives about 100 yards from my house. I’m now keeping my Honda in the living-room and locking the doors every day. It’s annoying not to be able to trust anyone. We got a new Watchnight for the compound on Monday -- he was sacked yesterday for sleeping all night. He didn’t hear Fr. Golli trying to get in the main gate even though Fr. Golli honked the horn for thirty minutes. Real secure compound with that fellow here. We’re now seeking to employ another. I wonder how long he will last.

Even with the soldiers guarding (ha!) our compound, we’ve had another robbery. Last night someone(s) stole two tires from Sister’s car about 100 feet from where the soldiers are (ha! again) guarding. Tonight I had to make my own supper as the police came to take in all the men for questioning. I hope it’s no one I know that did the theft as the punishment for robbery here is death by firing squad. Nigeria had several robbers shot in May for similar offenses.

I hope they don’t steal my bike for a little while because I have only just paid up my accident insurance.

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