#IWD2016: We remember Stella Adadevoh and Dora Akunyili

Nigeria has several tales of founding fathers and chivalrous deities we’ve heard over and over again. There are the many stories of women too, because in truth, history is shaped by people, and people are a balance of both sexes.

Ever wondered what our history would look like without our women? Especially women whose awesome acts resulted in the safety of lives and property on a mass scale?

First, we travel back in time to Zaria, and explore the city with it’s rich history. As we marvel at how much tradition the city walls hold, we realise that Zaria would probably be in smithereens, if the military genius of Queen Amina did not build those walls to protect the city and her people.

Queen Amina of Zaria

We salute her.

Then we travel South, to the land where the sun rises. We hear stories of the times when the people paid taxes to the throne of England, how some colonial masters had imposed heavier taxes, and how the men had accepted their fates, even with the hardship it brought. We remember how one woman, Madam Ikonna and her comrades, all stood up in protest. 28 years later, she stood up again to protest a tax on the men when even they failed to. We wonder what 1929 and beyond would have looked like if those women didn’t stand up and fight.

We salute them.

Then we come to more recent times, after the long streak of dictators, to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). There, we find Professor Dora Akunyili, a true Nigerian hero if ever there was one, who courageously led the crusade against the deluge of fake and substandard drugs that threatened the health of the entire nation.

dora-akinyili

We salute her.

Then even more recently, in 2014, when the Ebola Virus Disease sent panic upon the world, Nigeria was first in line of nations who completely defeated the virus. Many brave doctors fought tooth and nail to obliterate every threat, but it was Doctor Stella Adadevoh who put herself in the line of fire, paying the ultimate price to ensure that the virus never spread to epidemic scales.

Imagine how different things would have turned out without her. Imagine Ebola sweeping through Lagos first, with its cramped buses and its overcrowded markets. Imagine people travelling in flights and buses, taking it to their destinations. There would probably be very little left of us.

Adadevoh

We salute her.

There are many whose names we fail to mention, many whose names we’ll never know.

We realise that every woman deserves our respect, not just because they deserve respect as human beings, but for the simple reason that we,- all of us,- wouldn’t be here, reading this, living, or being, if they had at one point chosen to make the darkness of their wombs our tombs.

And wombs or not, we understand that our humanity is incomplete without women.

We salute all women.

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