Imagine that your parents had received a diagnosis of
    sickle cell in you before you were three years of age.
    Imagine that the diagnosis meant nothing to them
    other than the fact that, as always, you were
    predisposed to frequent illness.

    Imagine that you yourself knew something was wrong
    with you. You had no name for it, but it kept you
    'constantly aware of itself'. Imagine that by the time you
    were ten years old you had come to see life as a
    'general drama of pain'.
    Now imagine your 12-year-old self running a cross-
    country race of nine kilometers with fellow students in
    secondary school. Your parents did not consider
    informing the school authorities about the vagaries of
    your health so reasonable accommodations could
    occasionally be made for you.
just before you breasted the tape you were engulfed in such pain as you never thought existed. You end up in hospital and for
the first time At the country race you did your best even outrunning 'the normals' but the phrase ‘sickle cell anaemia’ barged in on
your consciousness.

Menace In My Blood is populated with startling and unbelievable experiences for a child challenged by sickle cell disorder. He
was seven when he underwent sexual molestation at the hands of a relative. Before this he had learnt to smoke (real cigarettes
and crumpled pawpaw leaves). Another relative took him on hand to visit - and spend  nights - with a prostitute. At 14, he
regularly sneaked from school to engage in gambling. Of his sickle cell experiences, the following are prominent: transfusions,
blood in urine, bed-wetting (’I was already in the university before the whole embarrassment finally ceased’) and severe,
constant, headaches.

Menace is akin to a genre of literature called family saga. The author tells about the experiences of a first cousin who was
similarly affected, about the ups and downs of the lives of two serial polygamists (his father and uncle) who set up home
together, the one a notable politician of Nigeria’s First Republic, the other a tailor, farmer, trader, and roving patent medicine
seller ('as one line of trade failed, he switched calmly to another'). In such a household - or '
harem' as the late Chief SLA Akintola
dubbed it, filled with a motley collection of relatives, quarrels, accusations and counter-accusations and intrigues were rife
among the women. This led Elizabeth Anionwu, retired professor of nursing at Thames Valley University to describe the
household in which the author was raised as '
vibrant'.

The author's parents, distant relatives, got married in 1947 - a time, says the author, '
when men did no wrong.' Thus, of the
relationship between his parents, the author comments:

(Father) exercised a fascination over her that was less like that exercised over a snake by its charmer than that exercised by that
reptile over its victim

Many who have read the book describe it as very interesting. Professor Charles Ogbulogo, formerly of the Department of African
and Asian Studies of the University of Lagos, now dean of Human development, Covenant University, refers to the book as
offering
'a great deal of information about the dreaded SCD, the Yoruba, and their family systems'; and further adds, 'the crafting
of the story is rich and captivating.
' Similarly, an assessor with Spectrum Books, bowled over by the autobiography was
compelled to remark:
'a masterly work of profound expression.' Maxine Taylor, of Texas, USA writes: 'the book has been keeping
me past my bedtime. At one page I am laughing out loud and on the next I am crying.’

100 years after its clinical identification, the sickle cell remains an enigma. Consequently, the author, at the tender age of 14,
summed up his experience of the bloody ailment in these haunting words:

As usual I went home to be treated for one illness or the other, usually malaria, severe headache, abdominal troubles, jaundice,
or bone pain. The last mentioned, more than all others combined, made me sometimes to rue the day I took my first breath, and
wish that I had not been born

Menace was written when Tamedu was in his late 20s although the recollections are all about his dalliance with sickle cell to
age 15. This compendium of childhood experiences would, however, appeal to every age group.
Book Review: Menace Is His
Blood
By Tosin Fawemida, Writer/Correspondent

Menace In My Blood is
populated with startling
and unbelievable
experiences for a child
challenged by sickle cell
disorder. He was seven
when he underwent sexual
molestation at the hands
of a relative. Before this
he had learnt to smoke
(real cigarettes and
crumpled pawpaw leaves)
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