Tolu Ogunlesi reports on another everyday hero.
Last month, the Nigerian government released the 2014 National Honours award list: more than 300 people, many of them serving government officials, seemingly recognised simply because of the public office they hold, not for anything particularly honourable or heroic. An outcry followed, largely due to the absence of one name: Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh. A government spokesman was forced to explain that the awards are never given posthumously.
The public’s indignation was understandable: Adadevoh was the Nigerian doctor who oversaw the treatment of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian national who brought the Ebola virus to Nigeria. She died of the virus on 19 August, one of eight fatalities out of 20 cases (each linked to Sawyer) in the country. Without her dedication, it is quite possible that the World Health Organisation would not have declared Nigeria – the most populous country in Africa – Ebola-free on Monday. The significance of her actions, and those of her hospital colleagues, cannot be overstated.
In a fine tribute, Nigerian journalist Simon Kolawole explained and convincingly that Adadevoh was only doing her job as a medical professional. He wrote: “There were various options in front of her when she discovered Sawyer had Ebola: one, quietly say ‘e no concern me’ and discharge him quickly to avoid contaminating the hospital; two, refer him to [Lagos University Teaching hospital], not minding the bigger consequences for the rest of Nigeria; three, act responsibly in line with the ethics of the medical profession and ‘detain’ him because of the peculiarity of the disease.”
That this needed to be pointed out at all is perhaps testimony to how unused Nigeria has become to the idea of people doing their jobs as they should. It is precisely the reason Adadevoh needs to be honoured: as a reminder that heroism can be attained as much in everyday work clothes as it can in superhero capes.
We in the US need that kind of reminder too: that heroism can be attained as much in everyday work clothes as it can in football uniforms or banker suits or movie star glamor clothes.
Her name should become famous along with Malala’s.