There is very little I am able to add to the choice of the fighters and health workers involved in the battle against the Ebola Virus as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, 2014. These doctors and health workers who, as Time Magazine describes, possess the “rare hero’s heart,” distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility and strength, in times of adversity. They are humanity’s very own true heroes. Of the hero’s heart, it is said, “it is not the glittering weapon that fights the fight, rather the hero’s heart does.”
-Earlier in 2014, Ebola emerged from the shores of Africa, like a mythical beastly-serpent, spreading, infecting and devouring everything and anything in its sights. For several years, this nasty, devastating and cruel disease had particularly haunted rural African villages and communities, saliently claiming its victims, albeit not in huge and alarming numbers. However, precisely in March this year, everything changed. An outbreak of the disease turned into an epidemic, deemphasizing borders, spreading to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone (which share borders). Then it made its way to Nigeria and Mali and reaching up across the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans, it slid into Spain, Germany and the United States.
The virus, not a respecter of persons, age, sex or class, apathetically struck doctors and nurses in unparalleled numbers, unapologetically claiming the lives of about 90% of its victims, even completely annihilating a public-health infrastructure in Liberia. The virus began assuming frightening proportions, essentially making anyone willing to treat Ebola patients run the risk of becoming its very victim.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Ebola scourge brought with it the revelation that national governments weren’t adequately equipped to respond to it. The World Health Organization (WHO) was in denial about the veracity of the virus and first responders were castigated for “crying wolf” over the devastating effects of Ebola.
With the certain promise of danger, disease, suffering and death that Ebola presented, in my opinion, no one is more fitting to be ‘Person of The Year, 2014’ than the heroes and knights in shinning white armor of Ebola; the doctors, nurses and health workers who courageously and selflessly confronted it, despite its threat and menace. I stand with Times Magazine as it thanks and honors the local special forces of doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, all health-workers, health practitioners, ambulance drivers, the international league of Doctors without Borders, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Missionary medical-relief workers, fought side by side, regardless of the risk of infection and death. It is to them the world needs to be grateful for stopping a global pandemic with the potential of wiping out humanity. It is to them the world needs to be thankful for continuing to stand and fight off the disease in the Western African countries that are still being overwhelmed by it.
While the scourge was initially treated as ‘an African problem’ by the international community, the West African sub-region was inundated by the sheer scale of human suffering and fatalities in relation to the Ebola Outbreak and the speed at which it was spreading. It was not until it made its way to the Western countries that it invoked global attention and adequate measures were taken to halt its spread. In Nigeria, the Government, led by an incredibly-credible Governor Fashola was able to effectively halt the spread of the virus, which claimed 8 lives (the lowest when compared to other affected sub-regional countries) through the heroic exploits of our doctors, nurses and health workers.
Sadly, a good number of those Ebola claimed were health officials. Top among the list is incredibly courageous and gallant Sierra Leonian hero and Doctor, Dr, Sheik Umar Khan and the brave Nigerian National Treasure, Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh. Which Nigerian can ever forget Dr Adadevoh who brazenly confronted, restricted and quarantined Mr. Sawyer, the Liberian-American who brought the virus with him into the country? Dr Adadevoh, a senior consultant endocrinologist, was among those infected with the deadly virus while treating Mr. Sawyer. She died as a result of her infection before the experimental drug, Zmapp, which had been used to successfully cure two American citizens afflicted with the virus, had been provided to Africa.
Special recognition and kudos must be given to other Nigerian health officials who identified and placed under surveillance about 59 people who came in various degrees of contact with Mr. Sawyer. Also, in the immediate aftermath of the first death from the disease, health officials shut and quarantined the hospital involved to stop the virus from spreading. Indeed, this commendable proactive feat and foresight should be recognized and applauded. The nurses who also lost their lives while treating and tending to Mr. Sawyer are heroes in their own special right and should be duly immortalized.
A salient lesson that should be learnt from the Ebola saga is that the near global epidemic was a litmus test perusing the capability of the global community to respond to potential pandemics. It would seem that we however failed this test, as it exposed corruption in African governments, along with complacency in Western capital cities. It showed that the world isn’t effectively capable of coming together, in sync, in combating a common health-related enemy.
The Ebola saga generated a lot of mistrust within the global community, from Monrovia to Manhattan, Lagos to Louisiana. Most of the pre-emptive and security measures to prevent Ebola which most countries took were; the discriminatory and blatant restriction of nationals from Africa; taking passengers temperatures at international airports; confining African nationals to rigorous and embarrassing searches at land, air and sea borders. Moving forward, the question we need to ask is, what will it take to develop treatments for diseases largely confined to poor nations? Another question which begs for an answer is, why wasn’t the drug Z-Mapp made available to African nations earlier during the epidemic, even when it was confirmed that the trial drug recorded twin successes when it was administered to two Americans who were afflicted by the virus?
As we cautiously look towards the twilight of the fight against Ebola, we must always keep in mind that Ebola is a war and indeed a warning. A very, very grave one!
The Ebola near global epidemic exposed the inadequacies of the global health system against disastrous infectious diseases. The global community should begin working in tandem and in sync on measures to be taken on forestalling future occurrences of threats of such magnitude.
As we go about our daily activities in the countries and societies that have overcome Ebola, it is assuring to know that some of us can still sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight, are prepared to perform tireless acts of courage and mercy and are prepared to risk their lives in order to give the world enough time to boost its defenses. These heroes of our ages persisted, risked, sacrificed and saved. To them, every life was and is as precious as theirs. They were and are willing to forgo their lives for the overall benefit of mankind.
These doctors, nurses and health workers stood against all odds and they emerged as the greatest heroes there ever was. They showed resilience and gallantry and ensured our world is made safer to live in. Their greatness is in their recognition that every life is as precious as theirs and that every life matters. They truly do remind the world what service to humanity really means.
We should continue to remember and keep those in West Africa still struggling to overcome Ebola in our prayers.
…For selflessly sacrificing and saving the world, the doctors, nurses and health workers who painstakingly fought the Ebola pandemic and are still fighting are my PERSONS OF THE YEAR FOR 2014.
May God forever reward, protect and bless these brave and precious soldiers of humanity… for all of eternity.
NON-NIGERIAN OF THE YEAR:
I often wonder how great people, such as Mandela, Gandhi, Deedat and Mother Teresa become great. Watching Malala as she fought, survived and continues to fight for the right of the girl to have an education, I realize I’m watching the making of greatness right before my very eyes.
Of the Nobel Laureate Forbes once wrote; “Malala has given us a glimpse of what the world could look like when one voice is heard, when it’s valued, and when it’s unique leadership is prized. She reminds us that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes…” Indeed she does!
…For her selfless ability to change and inspire the world, make people believe and show us sacrifice and greatness at its best, ‘MALALA YOUSAFZAI IS MY NON-NIGERIAN OF 2014.’
NIGERIAN OF THE YEAR:
‘GOVERNOR JOHN KAYODE FAYEMI AND MRS BISI FAYEMI’-
The achievements and Dr John Kayode Fayemi as governor of Ekiti State needs no introduction. The development he brought to Ekiti and the excellence and professionalism he exhibited throughout his one term will forever be written in stone. The pedigree and composure he showed during his 2014 2nd term election should serve as a model for all Nigerian politicians. And although his defeat in that election may not have been so much about policies as it was about ‘bags of rice,’ JKF did a humble, patriotic, gallant, decorous and unusual act by congratulating the victor and peacefully stepping down.
…For being one of the most honest, capable and decent people by every standard to occupy public office in Nigeria; by being a gentleman who is guided by his faith and committed to his family; by putting the peaceful coexistence of the people of Ekiti State above his own personal interest, ‘DR. JOHN KAYODE FAYEMI TOGETHER with his exceptional wife, MRS BISI FEYEMI, ARE MY NIGERIANS OF 2014.’
STORY OF THE YEAR:
‘CHIBOK GIRLS KIDNAPPING & #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS’-
On the night of 14th April 2014, Islamic Insurgents in Nigeria kidnapped 276 female students from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok, Borno State. While the news was devastating, it wasn’t until a fortnight had passed, since the abductions, before the world stood and took notice. As parents and concerned Nigerians organized protests, took to social media and began to use the hash-tag #BringBackOurGirls, the story swiftly reached a global audience.
…For the dedication of all those involved in this movement, the global outrage and concern it aroused and the demand for greater government action, ‘THE CHIBOK GIRLS KIDNAPPING AND THE #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS CAMPAIGN IS MY STORY OF 2014.’
CHAMPION OF THE YEAR:
‘FIRST CONSULTANTS MEDICAL CENTRE; CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER BENJAMIN OHIAERI AND HIS FULL TEAM.’
When a very sick and selfish Patrick Sawyer made the bad judgment of sauntering into Nigeria carrying a deadly haemorrhagic fever with the capacity to wipe out the whole of humanity, it was the professionalism and efficiency of the First Consultants Medical Centre in Lagos which saved the country and the world from a full blown pandemic. Although the admittance, treatment and death of the Ebola-Carrying Mr. Sawyer devastated the hospital, brought it to its knees and claimed the lives of several doctors, nurses and hospital workers, the actions of the hospital has got to be one of the ‘proudest markers’ in the history of our nation. And even though their effort and sacrifice will be rewarded by the Almighty one hopes that the financial loss which the hospital suffered will be replaced by government and other philanthropic Nigerians (at least 3 fold). First Consultants deserves to be given the financial support that will assist building it into the best medical facility available in Nigeria.
…For their expertise, care and selfless medical service to man and country, ‘FIRST CONSULTANTS MEDICAL CENTRE; CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER BENJAMIN OHIAERI AND HIS FULL TEAM ARE MY CHAMPIONS OF 2014.’
DOUCHEBAG OF THE YEAR:
‘TWEEDLEDUM AND TWEEDLEDEE, AKA LIBERIA’S DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER, SEBASTIAN OMAR MUAH AND LIBERIAN AMBASSADOR, AL HASSAN KOIKE.
In the aftermath of the Ebola scare in Nigeria brought about by the arrival of an infected Patrick Sawyer, it emerged that Nigeria had two twin-dingbats to thank for creating a circumstance where a full-blown pandemic could have easily erupted.
First up is the moronic Liberian deputy finance minister, Sebastian Omar Muah who, not only cleared his friend Patrick Sawyer to travel despite knowing that Mr. Sawyer nursed and buried a sister who had died from Ebola, but had the audacity to go on Facebook and have an immature social-media war of words defending his action. This sorry excuse for a wrinkled-old-llama-plonker tried to (quote-unquote) ‘Stand His Ground’ by making statements such as, “Eeehhnn, Sawyer was my friend,” “How do you want me to address the freaking disease,” “If you don’t have jack to say then frankly shut up on the subject,” “Sebastian Muah doesn’t have time today frankly for your rants,” “Sebastian Muah the old people say empty drum can’t make noise. So you will be talking by yourself as I see you don’t know what you are talking about,” “Yes, yes take me to the international court since I am guilty of approving a travel.”
From his social media postings, while it is quite clear that Mr. Sebastian Omar Muah is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, someone might just need to remind him; 1) He is no longer in Primary School, 2) He is supposed to be a high ranking government official and as such shouldn’t be getting into Twitter beefs with prepubescent teens, 3) The subject matter he is making light of is a serious disease with the ability to wipe out all of humanity and, 4) Several people in Nigeria have died as a direct result of his moronic actions.
As if Mr. Muah’s conduct wasn’t bad enough, we were then to learn of the behavior of the Liberian Ambassador to Nigeria, Al Hassan Koike who, apparently, harassed Dr. Adadevoh to discharge Mr. Sawyer after the latter had been admitted. When a sickly Mr. Sawyer was prevented from leaving First Consultants after his admission, he contacted the Liberian Ambassador, who then took it upon himself to call and threaten Dr. Adadevo and the hospital with legal charges of kidnapping and an international diplomatic row if Mr. Sawyer was not permitted to leave the hospital. While Al Hassan Koike’s actions inanity is no way on the grand scale of Mr. Sabastian Muah’s, it is probably safe to assume that this duo cannot be representative of Liberia’s finest!
…For their wicked and inexcusable incompetence in the face of such danger, ‘LIBERIA’S DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER, SEBASTIAN OMAR MUAH AND LIBERIAN AMBASSADOR, AL HASSAN KOIKE ARE MY SHAMELESS DOUCHEBAGS OF 2014’
BOOK OF THE YEAR:
‘A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS BY MARLON JAMES’- Unfortunately, I was unable to read as many books as I would have wanted this year but of the few that I read, the story of the imagined circumstances that lead up to and beyond the attempted assassination of Bob Marley was an enjoyable and riveting piece of fiction in the backdrop of reality. ‘A Brief History Of Seven Killings’ follows the journey of seven men who attempted to assassinate Bob Marley in 1976. Bob Marley, himself, is not a main character in the book but his presence is very much felt throughout. The story is unfolded through witnesses, government officials, criminals, security agents, journalists and ghosts. It was quite a long read and, at times, quite violent. While I did find the multiple voices telling the story a little confusing, I was very much drawn in by them. It is the first novel written by Marlon James I have ever read. I was gripped, then exhausted and finally in awe with his ability of linguistic gymnastics.
…For its riveting reading and epic ambition, ‘A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS BY MARLON JAMES IS MY BOOK OF 2014.’
COLUMNIST OF THE YEAR:
CEO of Cable Newspaper Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Simon Kolawole’s articles in Thisday Newspaper, The Cable and several other print and online forums are informative, enjoyable and give a deep understanding into any of the topics he chooses to write on. I find his incisive scrutiny and factual interpretation of news, thought provoking and, as such, often find myself referring to his column to get his perception on several subject matters. He is presently one of Nigeria’s most brilliant writers and his objectivity, to me, is essential and extremely refreshing.
…For his column’s objectivity, philosophical undertone and his simply amazing literary prowess, ‘MR SIMON KOLAWOLE IS MY COLUMNIST OF 2014.’
ARTICLE OF THE YEAR:
‘Between buharists and jonathanians: the gathering storm Written By AZUKA ONWUKA’-
This article written by Mr Onwuka, imbues the aftermath of the upcoming 2015 Nigerian general election with a sense of foreboding. I appreciated it because it is simply a logical warning of the possible fallout Nigeria faces come February. Nigeria is going through a very uncertain period. Not only does it seem as if we are standing on the precipice of our existence, the anxiety that the suffering and lack of security brings, meshed together with an overcharged political atmosphere, evokes a dark and ferocious consequence to an election outcome where ‘both sides MUST win!’
In his piece, Onwuka addressed this and dammed the condemnation of critics by speaking ‘his truth’ with the impartial and harsh honesty needed to express the reality. His message? Come what may, in the 2015 February elections, Nigeria remains at the mercy of Jonathan and Buhari supporters! It is a warning that each and every Nigerian needs to consider seriously in order to avoid the expected overflow of passions and fallout of an bellow-the-belt and issueless based contest.
…For his candid approach in articulating the apprehension of the upcoming elections between General Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan, ‘Between buharists and jonathanians: the gathering storm By AZUKA ONWUKA’ is my Article of 2014.’
VIDEO CLIP OF THE YEAR:
‘SADIE DOESN'T WANT HER BROTHER TO GROW UP’
The clip of a little girl named Sadie crying because she doesn't want her baby brother to grow up is so breathtakingly cute. As she struggled with the thought of growing up, ageing, life and death, it made a most hilarious and adorable visual memento.
…For cute little Sadie’s example of the sweet innocence of childhood as she cried for her little brother, ‘SADIE DOESN'T WANT HER BROTHER TO GROW UP IS MY VIDEO CLIP OF 2014.’
BEST HEADLINE/BREAKING NEWS OF THE YEAR:
‘WE HAVE KILLED NIGERIAN INSURGENT LEADER, ABUBAKAR SHEKAU — NIGERIAN MILITARY.’
While nobody knows definitively whether this blood sucking, evil, barbaric, constipated, scrotum-ragged, kidnapping, mass murdering, satanic, inbred vomit-spack, ugly lunatic ‘infidel’ is really dead after so many of such statements, I guess one can only hope…!
…For the desperate wishes and hopes of all unity and peace loving Nigerians that this headline be 199% confirmed as true, ‘WE HAVE KILLED ABUBAKAR SHEKAU’ IS MY BEST HEADLINE OF 2014.’
WORST HEADLINE/BREAKING NEWS OF THE YEAR: ‘SCORES KILLED AS SUICIDE BOMBER STRIKES…! HOSTAGE BEHEADED BY EXTREMISTS…!’-
It is hard to describe the horror and devastation of suicide bombings, mass murder and beheading of hostages by extremists and insurgents. It is hard to describe just how sick it makes one feel. To watch the footage of these atrocities, view their propaganda tapes and mention their names makes me feel like I am partially to blame. Earlier this year, I made a decision to ‘never’ write or mention the name of the Nigerian Insurgents ever again, for by doing so, I feel as if I am giving them an identity and recognition. As long as these atrocious, evil and barbaric crimes continue, words will forever fail me…!
…For its barbarism and horror, breaking news of, ‘SCORES KILLED AS SUICIDE BOMBER STRIKES…!’ and ‘HOSTAGE BEHEADED’ HAVE BEEN THE WORST HEADLINES OF 2014…!’
MY WRITE-UP CHOICE OF THE YEAR:
‘HELP, MY LIFE IS IN DANGER!’- GABRIEL OLAFENWA’
Every week, I write a couple of articles on different topics. At the end of the year, I go over my articles and reflect on the message and effect of each. With the security and health challenges the world and Nigeria has been confronted with in the past year, looking back at some of my articles took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Despite the death and the strife I have written on during the course of the year, surprisingly, the article that seems to have the most profound effect on me was one I wrote back in July about a Mr. Gabriel Olafenwa from Ogun State who was crying out for help because his families life was in danger. I came across this story when Mr. Gabriel’s son, Moses, posted a four and a half minute video clip of his family’s ordeal on YouTube. Investigating further into the story, I found that Mr. Gabriel’s family was being persecuted, had suffered a terrible breach of their human rights and they were barely existing from moment to moment in fear of their lives. Agreeing that the easiest way to protect the family was to publicize their case, seek for legal recourse while reaching out to the authorities, I wrote their story.
I urge the government, human rights commission, legislature, appropriate authority and the Nigerian people to watch the video Mr. Gabriel Olafenwa posted online through Moses Olafenwa’s YouTube page on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNcV7kN8JB0 in order to see the full story. I appeal to the authorities to further investigate the claims of Mr. Gabriel Olafenwa and his family and I call on all these bodies’ to critically look into this case without prejudice or favoritism to Mr. Gabriel or to those he accuses and ensure that lives are protected and justice is served to all parties concerned.
…For this story’s power of tugging at my heat string despite more devastating, urgent and sadder topics I’ve written on, ‘HELP, MY LIFE IS IN DANGER!’- GABRIEL OLAFENWA’ IS MY WRITE-UP CHOICE OF 2014.’
MOVIE OF THE YEAR:
‘THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES’-
There is just no arguing that, the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit series that surrounds it, is the greatest fictional story ever written! The fact that this movie adaptation of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s genius-literary-masterpiece will be our final cinematic Middle Earth visit makes this last chapter of ‘The Hobbit Trilogy’ an automatic winner.
…For ‘just’ being a figment of the creatively, genius imagination of JRR Tolkien, ‘THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES IS MY MOVIE OF 2014.’
SHOW OF THE YEAR:
‘THE WALKING DEAD’-
The Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic horror-drama TV show based on a comic book series about a small group trying to survive in a world dominated by flesh-eating Zombies and hostile human survivors. The fifth season returned to TV earlier in the year with groundbreaking ratings and reviews. The season started with a bang, stabbed and raised the dilemma level of our group of survivors by adding human cannibals into the mix (Nice Right?). The Season 5 action-packed premiere was the best of any show I had ever seen on TV and I can watch it over and over again.
…For the dazzling, adrenaline-rush, filled with suspense the show provides and my (weird) obsession with anything Zombie-Movie, ‘THE WALKING DEAD IS MY SHOW OF 2014.’
SONG OF THE YEAR:
‘SIA – CHANDELIER’-
While I was unable to relate to the lyrics of this song, this provocative and emotion filled piece leaves me feeling hypnotized and strangely inspired whenever I listen to it. I could listen to this one track for hours. Sia is, without doubt, one of the most gifted, creative and prolific songwriters of this generation.
…For the song’s ability to push and pull at emotion and offer a profound appreciation of spellbinding rhythm, ‘SIA’S CHANDELIER IS MY SONG OF 2014.’
Written By Hannatu Musawa
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