I Drank Salt-Water To Survive Ebola – A Nigerian Recounts

I drank salt water as a protective measure against Ebola. It sounds really funny but when people are faced with a matter of life and death, they can do anything without stopping to think. My family and I were victims of ‘salt water’ rumor last month. But thank goodness we didn’t have any tragic experience from the erroneous act. Not many people who fell for the prank were that lucky. A relative told us of how salt-water caused her roommate to have a miscarriage at Federal Polytechnic Mubi, Adamawa state. A day after the woman drank the salt water, she noticed that she was bleeding and rushed to the hospital, only to be told by the doctor that she has lost [the pregnancy].

Philip Dauda, another victim of the prank, also shared his ‘salt water’ experience.

He said: “The tenant in my house woke me and my elder brother up around 1am…and broke the news to us saying ‘Ebola o! We have been called to bath and drink salt water before 5am in order to prevent us from [contracting] Ebola virus.’”

Philip complied immediately out of fear.

“I jumped out of bed, leaving my elder brother behind. Reaching outside the room, to my surprise, the tenant who woke [us], was the one setting firewood for water to be boiled. He was acting slow so I said to him [in Hausa]: ‘Baba Boi ruwan nan bai yi ba, ni zan sa  nawa’ which mean ‘this water won’t be enough, I will set fire to heat [more].”

Before 5am Philip and his household had bathed and drank the salt water.

Few weeks after the salt-water experience, I announced my plans to visit Lagos. People who knew about this travel plans tried to discourage me. They said I was at risk of contracting Ebola because Lagos is where the Ebola patients were kept. They were referring to the quarantine centers.

The fear of Ebola is obvious in the north, Kaduna in particular. Some people believe that everyone in Lagos is exposed or in danger of Ebola. The impression we had back in the North was that Lagos was no longer its usual hustle and bustle because people were hiding in their houses. A close friend said to me: ‘Babe if you go Lag, no go anywhere o, Ebola dai’. Another advised, ‘if you catch Ebola, remain for Lagos o! Don’t come back to Kd o’.

The pressure and fear made me skeptical about traveling down to Lagos. But what is that saying again? Life is about taking a risk!

I got to ABC Motor Park at Kawo, Kaduna north around 7pm with the intention of traveling by night bus. To my surprise, there were a lot of passengers on board the ABC luxurious bus to Lagos.
While in the bus, I was expecting a discussion centered on Ebola but to my surprise, most of what those on board talked about was politics, boko haram and other problems in Nigeria.

After a long and exhausting journey, I arrived Lagos in the morning, past 10am.

I was stunned to find out that the city was as crowded as it used to be with people everywhere, running their normal daily activities. Ebola didn’t stop Lagos from being the commercial hub of Nigeria at all.

In order to get to my destination, I boarded a commercial bus (yellow bus) at Ojodu and had to sit at the back, between two men. I couldn’t help myself but asked the younger man by my left if they feel comfortable sitting so close to each other despite Ebola. And he replied, ‘Sister, Ebola or no Ebola who go live go live and person wai go die go die, life continues’.

The spirit of Lagos- the resilient spirit- was alive and high in the city.

Throughout my stay, I noticed Ebola was the least of issues discussed by people. It wasn’t a daily concern as we thought it to be back in the north. I didn’t meet anyone who drank salt-water to stay alive. Lagosians are already survivors.


As a young female journalist, Happiness has a keen interest in rural growth and development, as it affects the lives of children, girls and women. She currently covers grassroots stories from rural communities in Northern Nigeria. Happiness Titus Zirra ventured into Journalism as a member of the Press Club Niger State College of Education. She served as the 'Editor-in-Chief' for one academic year and also served as a reporter. She was awarded a certificate of attendance on News reporting and News writing by Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Niger state council and also a certificate by Press Club,Niger State College of Education Minna.

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