The midwifery mayhem

Helping a pregnant woman give birth calls for improvisation

In Summary

• Sgt Makini is forced into uncharted territory when a pregnant woman calls for help

A stranded woman turns to the police for help in delivery
A stranded woman turns to the police for help in delivery

Like its name, Jiji Ndogo is quite small. For instance, Mla Chake Shop should really be called Mla Zote, since it’s a general shop, the veterinary centre as well as the chemist. Never mind that Dr Selitol, the owner, has never stepped foot in college.

“I need something for bedbugs,” I tell him after salutations.

“Anything, customer,” he says. “Something for them to eat, or to drink?”


“Something to kill them!”

“Oh, that.” He smiles. “Thought they were your pets. I’ll have to order it for you. No one uses chemicals to kill bed bugs around here.”

“What do they use?”

“Sorry, Sgt Makini, I just ordered the insecticide. If I tell you the alternative, who will I sell it to?”

“I just asked for it,” I yell. “When did you order it?”

Dr Selitol takes out his phone and punches a few buttons. “There. Now I just did.”

I’m about to go ballistic, when a small boy comes running, calling my name.


“My sister,” he says, “she needs your help.”

“What happened?”

“She only said, ‘Go get the bloody policeman!’.”

“Well, that’s me. Let’s go.”

We get to the house. The boy leads me to an inner room, where his sister is in full-blown labour. Shocked, I just stand there and stare.

“Don’t just stand there,” the woman shouts. “Get this baby out!”

“Why me? What about the father? Shouldn’t he be here, harvesting the crops he planted?”

“If you mention that imbecile one more time…”

Now I’m also scared. I turn to the brother. “Isn’t there a midwife in town?”

“She’s not available!” the sister screams. “Do your job. Serve and protect, right? Then serve!”

I think about First Aid lessons at the Academy. Cuts, fainting, sprains, heart attacks… Nothing about labour. Also, I’ve never seen anything giving birth. I’ll have to improvise.

First things first. I take a blanket and cover her up.

“What are you doing that for?” she asks.

“Don’t worry. I learned this at the academy. A woman’s decency is very important.”

She chucks the blanket.

“What’s your name?” I ask her.


“Irene, have you done this before?” She shakes her head. “Okay. So, you’ll have to trust me. I’ve done this once. When I was born, but I was too small to remember what happened. Young man,” I tell the boy, taking command. “Get me a sharp knife, a sufuria, towels and a large plastic bag. Make that lots of towels.”

“What for?” Irene asks.

“Obviously, the knife is for cutting the cord. I know that happens. The sufuria is for the blood, you know, once we cut? The towels are for cleaning. Of course.”

“And the plastic bag?”

“That’s for me. To protect the uniform. Ever heard of bloodbath? Oh yeah, blood happens in births.”

“That’s something totally different.”

“Maybe. I don’t know. I’m winging it here.”

I stand at the foot of the bed. Dear Lord! She’s totally naked.

“You’re naked,” I say.

“And you’re crazy.”

“Oh boy. Ok, this is what we do,” I say, looking away. “You push the baby out, I catch it and cut the cord.”

“And how do we do that?” Irene shouts. “You aren’t even looking!

“I can’t. Just aim at me.”

Just then the boy enters with the knife. Still dirty from cutting last night’s ugali.

“I’m in pain!” cries Irene. “Do something.”

I take the knife from her brother.

“I’ll just clean the knife,” I tell Irene, “I mean, who knows. We might have to operate.”

“What?” Irene almost jumps off the bed.

“Just kidding,” I assure her. “But the knife is dirty. Be right back.”

At the door, an enormous woman blocks my path.

“Who are you?” I ask. “We’re kinda busy here.”

“I’m Bertha, the midwife. Get out of my way.”

Edited by T Jalio