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Mental Health: At What Point Do We Decide that Someone Really Needs Our Help?



By Daniel Kakuru.

In May 2019, Chukwuemeka Akachi, a twenty – one year old student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka committed suicide.

He had, by the time of his dissolution, enjoyed a stint in the limelight as a writer of poetry and short fiction. His poem, Meeting My Therapist, had just been published in the debut issue of the Kabaka Magazine, a gay pride and queer arts project.

His short story, Sixteen Notes On How To End A Life, had also been nominated for the 2018 Chronicles Short Story Prize. He had been longlisted in the Okike Prize for poetry and had also boasted of space in the honourable mentions.

He was the poetry editor at The Muse, a creative and critical writing journal at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. This (The Muse) is probably Africa’s longest surviving students’ journal.

At his send-off, his friends said Akachi was a life that promised so much but delivered so little. They said he was a young man that dreamt dreams and did not wake up to chase them. They broke down and wailed like babies. But what is there to do when one has killed oneself?

Akachi died the third time he attempted to take his life. First, he used kerosene but it didn’t work. Neither did petrol when he chose it at his second attempt. But an insecticide called Sniper did the trick when he downed two bottles. On his Facebook page was a suicide note; an apology to whoever would find his body.

His life was a journey from the nose to the eye – short and uneventful. It was a build up towards the inevitable. He battled depression and its roots could be traced back to a childhood during which he endured abuse by his mother and sister in the absence of his father.

Little wonder, whenever he picked up his pen to write, he wrote about sadness; about death; about a god that looks away while mortal men suffer. He lost his faith, wrote about it, attempted suicide, wrote about it and eventually coined out a genre of his own.

Whenever he wrote about his inner battles with mental health on Facebook, he was gagged. He despaired, cried and begged for help, but it didn’t come. Instead, he was called things: loser; weak man; attention seeker. But such is the stigma associated with mental illness in the black community.

It was only when he succeeded in killing himself that everyone realised poor Akachi should have been helped.

Do you remember Chester Bennington? He announced himself onto the scene in the early 2000s as a powerhouse of voice in Linkin Park, one of the greatest rock bands on earth. Throughout his life, he was open about his struggles with depression, addiction and drug abuse.

In almost every interview, he spoke about his inner pain, pleaded for help, but it hardly came.

His was also a turbulent childhood. Up to the age of thirteen, he had been enduring sexual abuse by a much older female, prompting him to turn to drugs for help. Before eighteen, he had abused cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and worse things.

Little wonder, he got carried away by the storm these drugs always bring and by the time he tried to turn back, it was too late. The addictions had grown much stronger than the will to quit.

Chester strangled himself in July, 2017. His widow blamed herself for his death. Today, she still believes she should have done more to save him from himself. She wishes she had known what she knows now, and he would have lived longer, to paint his name in the books of history.

There were enough warnings and she didn’t pay much attention to them; she didn’t take them seriously. But such is the regret that follows unfortunate events. We always go back to our past and wish we had turned that particular stone.

Chester’s death came shortly after that of Chris Cornell, the Soundgarden frontman. Both died by suicide. Whereas Cornell eliminated himself in May, Chester did in July. It was at the former’s send-off that the latter made his last live performance, the best in his lifetime.

It is likely, he hatched the plan to finish himself off on that day and nobody saw through him; nobody muscled in to disrupt him.

Jeffrey Epstein’s story is not so different. He was an American teacher who later metamorphosed into an economist. By the time of his imminent death, he was a convict in a Manhattan federal prison facing charges bordering on sex trafficking.

He killed himself in August, 2019 in a prison cell where he was staying alone on suicide watch while the guards supposed to be watching him slumbered. One week earlier, he had tried to strangle himself and failed.

He had been assigned a new room of his own with guards to check on him every after thirty minutes. But on the night of his demise, the guards had slept off. The inevitable happened and by the time he was found unconscious, it was too late to save him.

When the world crumbles down on people and they become suicidal, the pattern of events is always similar: the hopelessness; the sudden change in behavior; the self isolation.

These are signs that do not take long to be noticed. It is our collective responsibility to reach out to them and offer a helping hand whenever we can. We should not wait till they are dead so that we collect condolences and type, “R.I.P” or “Gone too soon.”

Suicide and self harm are preventable.

Such is the situation we are grappling with in one of the circles I belong to. Over forty hours ago, a classmate of ours took to his Facebook page, posted a grotesque picture of his crying self and announced that he now fears this life more than he fears death.

As if that was not enough, he slid into each of his friends’ private inbox and begged for help. The message he sent was similar: “Hi bro, please help me get a job so that I can earn a living. Life is now too difficult for me to handle.”

When his issue was tabled before our virtual WhatsApp group which is a home for more than a hundred active members, it was unanimously agreed upon that we pool some resources together, help him travel from Namisindwa District to Kampala where he will try his luck in capturing a vacant job opportunity.

As I type this, my eyes are clouded with tears. Over thirty hours after the topic was brought up, nobody has donated a coin. Right now, the said brother is deep in the bowels of Namisindwa District probably looking for the quickest means of terminating a fruitless life.

His trusted circle of friends are in the know of what is going on in his life, but are unable to contribute anything tangible to his survival.

God forbid, but I am sure that if he were to be pronounced dead, we would wake up and immediately raise millions of shillings in form of condolences. And that is the irony of life. Before death strikes, we are never convinced that someone is really held against the wall and is in need of help.


The author Daniel Kakuru is a lover of stories and social commentary. He believes that he is no more valuable than a mug of porridge. He writes under a Facebook hashtag #MugOfPorridge and blogs at



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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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