Living at The Mercy of Snakes

I made a couple of calls in Maiduguri and a chaperon was arranged for me to meet the Chairman of Kala Balge at Ran the LG headquarters.

The two different routes we attempted before reaching Ran proved to be impassable when we approached water points. We then decided to pass through the border along the famous Kusiri in Cameroon. On two occasions we were stopped by the Gendarmes who immediately sighted my Media Trust apron said, “media where are you going, bring your papers” on both occasions we explained our mission that we are not interested in their country, it was the bad road we are trying to avoid they then let us pass.

We then approached Wumbi village that seats at the bank of a river that separates Nigeria and Cameroon. The river has a breadth of about than 100 metres. It was not possible turn away or try another route, we must pass through the river at Wumbi. We then walked through the fast flowing river, which is 10 to 12 inches (20-30 cm deep). Modu forcefully pushed the motorbike, raising the top a bit to avoid water entering the engine.

After Wumbi which is in Nigeria, it became difficult to ride again, so we had to trek most of the time, on mud that sinks ones legs as deep as ones knees, it was like a quicksand. Walking proved to be difficult also, especially at the point when we began to encounter snakes, at one point Modu shouted: “Snake!! Snake!!! Just stop and wait for it to pass,” Modu uttered. “At that moment, the reporter wasn’t sure if he was still alive; he felt numb and began to piss in his pants, until the green and broodnish like Snake believed to be from the same family with the Mamba snake passed him on the top of the brown water that continuously spouted out like fountains from the manholes. “I began to walk cautiously, checking each step so that I would not step on a snake.”

Really, Snakes are most likely to bite when they feel threatened, startled, provoked, or have no means of escape when cornered and neither of these occurred. Even the urine this reporter was passing out of fear came out with a sound let alone, his trembling body. It’s as if his entire body understood the rules of engagement in this case. It is good though not to walk without protective clothing through areas known to have.

Before reaching Ran, we counted 6 life snakes and 3 dead ones; they are mostly ‘Mambas’ called Wofe in Kanuri, long and thin, up to 2 to 4 metres in length, the poisonous Wofe are said to be neuro toxics that can kill its victim in less than 30 minutes because its venom can cause paralysis of respiratory muscles. At Wumbi where this reporter came close to this apparently venomous snake, the closest place or dispensary, as there are no hospitals, where he can get anti-snake venom was about 2 hours of both riding and trekking intermittently, he would have been dead by then.

The council boss, Alifa Bukar, received this reporter warmly though not without entertaining fear as to what his real intentions may be, for it was very difficult for someone to show such determination just to write about snakes in Kala Balge.  This reporter then retired to the accommodation provided to him by the council, at the local government lodge, where he cleaned up to allow him say his prayers but he couldn’t sleep because of two obvious reasons:”
One, about the continuous itching he was going through, doctors later told him may be as a result of certain parasite that tended to penetrate the skin, as he sank deep and walked through the mud. Two, the fear of snakes and the strange movements he was seemingly hearing in the room, even the sound of a needle could be heard, to show how alert he was. However, somehow sleep came and he was lost in oblivion devoid of the thoughts of being bitten by snakes.

From Ran to Kala to search for victims of Vipers
It was 7: 30 AM the next day, in the semi-town of Ran, the headquarters of the Council,  the Council boss stated that “honestly we are troubled by snakes and our attempt to treat snake bites takes a significant amount of our budget on health, at the detriment of other drugs for malaria and other life support” said LG Boss, adding that, both the state and local governments provides anti-snake venom which are kept in various clinics but the difficult terrain makes many villagers not to benefit from the drugs because, “by the time they reach the health centres, the venom must have affected them. Our greatest problem has been connecting the council to the rest of the world and equally connecting villages in the area with access roads,” said Alifa.

The trip to Kala village from Ran was almost as difficult as the one experienced the day before, only that this time around, the distance was less, yet another set of snakes were encountered, but this reporter stopped counting at 16 live snakes and 12 dead ones in less than 24 hours of his brief sojourn at the area. Although none of the snakes encountered were viper, especially the puff adder that were mostly ‘Wofe’. However, Kala is said to harbour a lot of puff adder. “If you want to see them, wait until it is dark,” said Lawan Wakil of Kala village, a suggestion no one would wait to experience.

The puff adder (Bitis arietaus) is short and thick, unlike the mamba that is neurotoxic, the viper is haematotoxic. According to one account, envenomations will cause coagulopathy sometimes so severe that a person may bleed spontaneously from the mouth, nose, and even from old and seemingly-healed wounds. Internal organs may bleed, including the brain and intestines, and will cause ecchymosis (bruising) of the victim’s skin. If the bleeding is left unchecked the victim may die of blood loss. At Kala, Mada, is just 38 kilometres? I made a couple of calls and a chaperon was arranged for me with a bike to meet the Chairman of the Council at Ran the LG headquarters.”

The two different routes we attempted proved to be impassable when we approached water points. We then decided to pass through the border along the famous Kusiri in Cameroon on two occasions we were stopped by the Gendarmes who immediately the sight Media Trust apron they will say “media where are you going, bring your papers” on both occasions we explained our mission that we are not interested in their country, it was the bad road we are trying to avoid they let us pass.

We then approached Wumbi village that seats at the bank of a river that separates Nigeria and Cameroon. The river has a breadth of about than 100 metres. It was not possible turn away or try another route, we must pass through the river at Wumbi. We then walked through the fast flowing river, which is 10 to 12 inches (20-30 cm deep). Modu forcefully pushed the motorbike, raising the top a bit to avoid water entering the engine.

After Wumbi which is in Nigeria, it became difficult to ride again, so we had to trek most of the time, on mud that sinks ones legs as deep as ones knees, it was like a quicksand. Walking proved to be difficult also, especially at the point when we began to encounter snakes, at one point Modu shouted: “Snake!! Snake!!! Just stop and wait for it to pass,” Modu uttered. “At that moment, the reporter wasn’t sure if he was still alive; he felt numb and began to piss in his pants, until the green and broodnish like Snake believed to be from the same family with the Mamba snake passed him on the top of the brown water that continuously spouted out like fountains from the manholes. “I began to walk cautiously, checking each step so that I would not step on a snake.”

Really, Snakes are most likely to bite when they feel threatened, startled, provoked, or have no means of escape when cornered and neither of these occurred. Even the urine this reporter was passing out of fear came out with a sound let alone, his trembling body. It’s as if his entire body understood the rules of engagement in this case. It is good though not to walk without protective clothing through areas known to have.

Before reaching Ran, we counted 6 life snakes and 3 dead ones; they are mostly ‘Mambas’ called Wofe in Kanuri, long and thin, up to 2 to 4 metres in length, the poisonous Wofe are said to be neuro toxics that can kill its victim in less than 30 minutes because its venom can cause paralysis of respiratory muscles. At Wumbi where this reporter came close to this apparently venomous snake, the closest place or dispensary, as there are no hospitals, where he can get anti-snake venom was about 2 hours of both riding and trekking intermittently, he would have been dead by then.

The council boss, Alifa Bukar, received this reporter warmly though not without entertaining fear as to what his real intentions may be, for it was very difficult for someone to show such determination just to write about snakes in Kala Balge.  This reporter then retired to the accommodation provided to him by the council, at the local government lodge, where he cleaned up to allow him say his prayers but he couldn’t sleep because of two obvious reasons:”
One, about the continuous itching he was going through, doctors later told him may be as a result of certain parasite that tended to penetrate the skin, as he sank deep and walked through the mud. Two, the fear of snakes and the strange movements he was seemingly hearing in the room, even the sound of a needle could be heard, to show how alert he was. However, somehow sleep came and he was lost in oblivion devoid of the thoughts of being bitten by snakes.

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