Saturday, August 22, 2015


 By Ayah Paul Abine
August 21, 1986, was a Thursday – another Thursday! And in August! We hear that Lake Nyos suffered from acute constipation and it belched, releasing lethal gas. Being a market day, there is no doubt that the village population grew. As the official coroner, I had first hand information: the school enrolment of GS Nyos alone was 620 pupils. But then, people died at Char and Subum as well; and in some inaccessible villages on the slopes, including Iseh. If officially only 1.750 persons died, it is as opaque as the origin of the disaster itself…
     Who was not afraid to go to Nyos? Of all the administrators and the forces of law and order, only the second assistant (or was it the 3rd?) who accompanied us to the scene on Sunday, August 24! My wife had eventually agreed with me that, as the official coroner, my presence was indispensable. My group of four or so buried more than a dozen corpses, including the eleven in Bah’s house. We were helped by the uncompleted septic tank in Bah’s compound…
     The slopes were turned white with the carcasses of “Aku cows”. We are told that 4.000 of them died… Every living creature that was at Nyos village itself that night died! People were too stunned to cry. The silence was absolute: most uncanny! Forty-three months later I had not the courage to eat beef…
     Our worry today should not be the number of the dead though. It should be about the survivors and the subsequent events. We hold that the people reserve the right to know. We are of opinion that the survivors deserve more attention than they have had. And the cloud surrounding the handling of relief supplies ought to blow away. No-one can feel the pains of the victims! I was there and I know what I talk about!
     May the good Lord never allow me to live such scene ever again!

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