A young man identified only as Prince, fainted upon receiving news of the death of his baby’s mother. When he recovered later, he had questions for and made appeals to God as well as any human being who might be responsible for his recurring distress.
Prince fainted in a tricycle, called a kiakia. After sympathizers struggled to get him out, they applied water and isopropyl (alcohol) to stabilize him. When he came to, he was carried to a secure place on Clay Street in Monrovia.
As several people held him down, urging him to let God take control of the situation, he threw his hands towards heaven and asked, “God what have I done to you?” That question elicited tears from by standers when they learned that the deceased was the second ‘baby mother’ Prince had lost to death.
Lamenting over his ordeal and in a tone of apology to an unidentified but perceived enemy, Prince shouted, “If I have done anything to anyone as the cause of my suffering, I beg you to forgive me.” Although living in a society where men rarely break down in tears over death or other tragedies that easily cause women to take refuge in tears, Prince wept sorrowfully, unable to bear the agony of the deaths of the mothers of his two babies.
Roseline was the mother of his second child born three months ago. She was always sick, and treatments did not work to restore her health. His first woman gave birth to the first child but died several months later in 2015.
An ongoing church crusade at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, where the organizers promised faith healing, persuaded the family to send Roseline there last Sunday but eyewitnesses told the Daily Observer that although Roseline looked good physically, she could not be helped.
“I saw the skin on her hands peeling at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium,” a young woman said. “They just finished with her; that’s how they treat people.”
She said this in reference to witchcraft, enemies from the underworld who are blamed when death comes so suddenly – for Roseline was less than twenty years old.
Meanwhile, as Prince went in and out of fainting spells, at one point he regained his equilibrium and pleaded with God that he wanted to die and be buried by his beloved Roseline.
Early motherhood has complications and in a society where young pregnant women would have to be encouraged to get maternity support at a local clinic or hospital, such complications after birth cannot be ruled out.
An online report says every year over 500,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth complications and for every woman who dies, approximately 20 others develop infections and severe disabling problems – adding up to more than 10 million women affected each year in the developing countries, including Liberia.
Recent reports quoting Ministry of Health statistics suggest a reduction in infant and maternal deaths because of access to and use of family planning services in major cities in Liberia. A major problem facing pregnant adolescent women is complications such as eclampsia, premature labor, prolonged labor, obstructed labor, fistula, anemia and death, according to the report.
While the report said a pregnant adolescent under 15 years of age faces substantially increased risks, delaying a first pregnancy until a girl is at least 18 years of age helps to ensure a safer pregnancy and childbirth and reduces the risk of her baby being born prematurely or underweight.
“The younger the mother is, the greater the risk to her and her baby. The risk of maternal death related to pregnancy and childbirth for adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years of age accounts for about 70,000 deaths each year. For adolescents under 15 years of age these risks increase substantially. Girls who give birth before age 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their twenties,” the report said.
Meanwhile, for Roseline’s grieving family, particularly Prince, no amount of explanation, if the cause of death is finally confirmed, can shake their belief that the death of his second baby mother was unnatural. The perceived witches will receive the condemnation of the bereaved until time heals their wounds.