Accra — Lying in one of the several beds at Ward G of the male surgical ward of the Korle BU Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana on Sunday afternoon was Umar Abdullah. A Nigerian from Zaria in Kaduna State, Umar is a part two student of Economics at the University of Cape Coast, Central Region of Ghana.
Calm and unruffled, his mien betrayed the psychological trauma and pain he could have been undergoing. His stoicism and courage was quite unusual for his age.
Umar could easily have passed for one of the patients, who had come for medical attention. But his case was much more complicated and very touching. The bizarre story can easily make a home movie title, but it happened.
Sometime last Friday, the light-skinned and lanky 25-year-old boy did the unimaginable. In the dead of the night, he suddenly woke up in his room, took a razor blade, cut off his male organ and swallowed it.
Described as an extremely intelligent student, who rather kept to himself most of the time, Umar did something that has continued to puzzle and prompt the question; 'Why did he do it'.
According to one of his confidants, on the night of the incident, the young man said he woke up from sleep at about 3.00am and had an uncanny feeling all around him. His room was overpowered by a foul odour. He could actually hear shrieking voices. One of the voices told him, his male organ was the source of the overwhelming stench. The way-out was for him to rip it off.
Like someone under a 'spell', the young man took a razor blade, did not only cut off his manhood, but put it in his mouth and chewed it.
Lying in his bed on Sunday afternoon, Umar, who had earlier undergone a simple surgery on Friday, in order to ease his difficulty in passing urine, appeared to be in high spirit and was very philosophical about his condition.
"I am happy that it happened to me. The incident has made me to realize that there is God" he said adding, "I could have died, if not that God spared my life".
The outpouring of affection and support from the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana, the All Nigerians' Community (ANC), his family members, (who travelled from Nigeria to be with him), his friends and school mates, he described as touching.
"The officials of the Nigerian High Commission have been very good and kind to me. They have been visiting me every time. The High Commissioner personally paid me a visit here on Friday. The president of All Nigerians' Community in Ghana has been here to see me and so many other wonderful people.
"My family has been wonderful. They have all showered me with love. I promise never to let them down. I promise that I will make them proud," he vowed.
Umar says he has learnt to put the unfortunate incident behind him and forge ahead. For him, what befell him must be God- ordained, something that will define his destiny. He has a wonderful destiny and he was going to be a great Nigerian, he stated.
Asked whether he took the action due to emotional turbulence, he said, "My girl friend and I have a great relationship. We never had a fight. She has been around me since this incident happened.
Most of the officials at the Nigerian Mission were not willing to speak on the matter, but one of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the young had gone through a traumatic period and he should be spared of further ordeal by splashing his news on the pages of the newspaper.
But it was gathered that the Mission had been a source of financial succour to him and had actually paid for the surgery and provided provisions and other materials for him.
The quick-witted young man did not show any out-ward sign of mental instability. He looked perfectly sane and his communication and responses were coherent and did not betray any form of mental illness.
He is also a very sociable young man. He seems to take to people easily. During the visit, he exchanged banters with another young man, who was attending to a sick relative. So, the question on many lips is: what would have prompted the young man to take such an action?
He was reported to have confided in somebody that he did not know what actually came upon him that night. Another puzzle is that he sustained a cut at the back of the head.
He could not give any expla-nation on how he sustained the wound.
Did he unleash other physical injury on himself? Was he so gripped with fear that he unwittingly hurt himself as he tried to escape from an apparition? Only a psychiatrist can unravel the mystery behind the action Umar took that tragic night.