‘Adaego! My daughter of wealth, where are you o?’
Whenever my mother screams my name in its entirety, I know that there is fire on the mountain. Just that this time, I’m certain I didn’t start the fire.
‘Ada m, which one is Jaksuko?’ she asked tensely as I approached her, ‘and where is Yobe state?’
‘Yobe what?!’ I couldn’t believe my ears.
I have been posted to the Jaksuko local government in Yobe State for the mandatory national service year. For a young woman from my tribe, the north is the last place you would want to be, because of the ethnic tensions in the country. So all I could say to comfort my worried mother was,
‘Mama, God will be with me.’
However, my life would forever be changed at Jaksuko, and I would never recover from the day I met an exceptionally beautiful Kanuri lady, Aisha.
I met Aisha while serving as a nurse at the General hospital in Jaksuko and took special interest in her prenatal care because she was so young. Maybe twenty.
Very fun-loving and kind-hearted, Aisha would share stories with the other women, and try to teach me their traditional Kanuri songs in her soft high-pitched voice:
Lami lami yencheri..yancheri…
I just laughed and hummed along.
Occasionally, she would bring me Guda asking me to eat plenty so that I can be very beautiful for a man. I didn’t understand her logic but I always ate the delicious porridge anyways. I grew to admire her way of dressing and the way she spoke so highly of her husband. She would say amidst beaming smiles,
‘My husband is a livestock farmer and furma; he has two decorated horses.’
‘Ashe, we know o,’ the other women would reply teasing her.
Aisha was the life of the party and I always loved her being around. So, it was a good news of great joy when I heard she delivered safely of her first child, a bouncing baby boy!
As expected of her hospitable nature, she invited me for the naming of the child on the eighth day.
‘We will name him ‘Babagana’ because he looks so much like his grandfather, although I like ‘Yerima’ because he will be a great prince and ruler among our people.’
The naming day was a great day of celebration. We sang, danced and feasted, and there was enough food for everyone. In particular, I remember the unspeakable joy on Aisha’s face as she brought her baby to the Imam for prayers.
‘Oh! The joys of motherhood,’ I exclaimed within myself as tears of happiness streamed down my face.
However, two weeks later, I saw a distraught Aisha rush in to the hospital, holding tight to her son and desperately seeking a doctor.
‘What is wrong, Aisha?’ I asked as I hurried her to the doctor.
Aisha had come in to the hospital earlier that day to complain of her son’s high temperature and had been given some medications. Only to find her son unresponsive thirty minutes after administering the drugs.
Unfortunately, all efforts of the doctor proved abortive and, Aisha lost her precious son to fake drugs that day. The once jovial high-spirited Aisha became forlorn like the night, and she would never recover from that experience.
Find a “pain point” that you are passionate about fixing and create a sustainable solution for it.Vivian Nwakah – Founder Medsaf
Provoked by this misadventure, I began to surf the net searching for answers to the drug problem only to be appalled when I saw that beyond the issue of substandard drugs, my country and the world at large faces other numerous health care challenges. I saw that my country still suffers from poor medical facilities, wrong diagnosis, high cost of health care, poor access to healthcare services in rural areas, and interestingly, the exodus of healthcare professional.
About 2,000 doctors leave Nigeria on a yearly basis
However, much more to my surprise, I discovered some made in Nigeria health tech startups already creating a shift in the health tech space, like Babymigo, LifeBank and Arone, the drone masters. Specifically, I got wowed with Ubenwa, the application that analyzes the cries of newborns to check for their oxygen levels during birth using machine learning and AI. Then I met Vivian Nwakah, who inspired by the tragic loss of her friend to fake malaria medications, drafted a solution strategy and founded the health tech startup Medsaf.
The day Aisha lost her prince was the day I too found purpose. I realized that indeed every issue presents us with two choices – the choice to turn a blind eye or to fight hammer and tongs alongside a justifiable cause. I made up my mind that I would rather be a Vivan Nwakah, turning every tragedy into blessing, and I will not rest until the problem of fake drugs is eradicated in my country. What can you do?
Cover Image by BeddingNMore