“Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not ‘I love you’ for this or that reason, not ‘I love you if you love me.’ It is love for no reason, love without an object.”
The above quotation is lifted from the words of Ram Dass. The same can be said of Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh and Queen Iden; both died for love in their quest for a better Nigeria. They paid the supreme price. Queen Iden, like Queen Idia, will never be forgotten.
Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh
As David was a saviour to Israel, so was Ameyo Adadevoh a saviour in Nigeria, to many Nigerians.
Ameyo popularly referred to as “Dr. Adadevoh,” was the first of four children born to Professor Babatunde Kwaku Adadevoh (deceased) of the renowned Adadevoh family of Anyako Royal House, Ghana, and the Crowther/Macaulay family of Lagos, Nigeria, and Deborah Regina McIntosh of the Nnamdi Azikiwe (President of Nigeria 1963-1966) and Smith/Wilkey families of Lagos, Nigeria, on October 27, 1956, in Lagos.
She began her academic career at Mainland Preparatory Primary School, Yaba, in 1961. In 1962, Ameyo’s parents temporarily relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States of America, where Ameyo spent two years in school.
Upon the family’s return to Nigeria in 1964, she continued her education at Corona School, Yaba, until 1968, and then began secondary school at Queens School, Ibadan, Nigeria, where she finished in 1974, with a distinction of honours in her West African Examinations Council (WAEC) exams. In 1980, at the age of just 24, Ameyo qualified as a medical doctor with a Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from the University of Lagos College of Medicine. Upon graduation, she finished a one-year mandatory houseman-ship at Lagos University Teaching Hospital and subsequently completed her National Youth Service Corps assignment in 1982, at the Eti-Osa Health Centre, Lagos.
Adadevoh later married Afolabi Emmanuel Cardoso on April 26, 1986, and their union was blessed with a son, Bankole Cardoso, on August 17, 1988.
Adadevoh’s unforgettable exploits and arrival on Nigeria’s consciousness
In 2012, H1N1 (swine flu) had spread to Lagos, and Dr. Adadevoh was the first doctor to diagnose and alert the Ministry of Health. Less than two years later, she was again the first doctor to identify another most contagious virus, Ebola. Ebola ravaged the world, even America.
On July 20, 2014, one Mr. Patrick Sawyer, Nigeria’s first Ebola patient, left quarantine in Liberia, and flew to Lagos, Nigeria, to attend a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He collapsed at the airport in Lagos and was immediately rushed to First Consultants Medical Centre (FCMC), the private hospital where Dr. Adadevoh then worked. Under normal circumstances as an ECOWAS official, he should have been taken to a government hospital, but the doctors at all government health facilities were then on an indefinite strike so he was taken to FCMC. This was God’s hand to save Nigerians.
The first doctor at FCMC who saw Mr. Sawyer diagnosed him with malaria. When Dr. Adadevoh saw him during her ward round the following day, she suspected Ebola, despite the initial malaria diagnosis and the fact that neither she, nor any other doctor in Nigeria, had ever seen Ebola patients before.
Dr. Adadevoh questioned Mr. Sawyer about having contact with anyone with Ebola, which he denied. Being the thorough clinician she was, she immediately contacted the Lagos State and Federal ministries of health and got him tested for Ebola.
While waiting for the test results, the patient and other Liberian government officials began insisting that Dr. Adadevoh discharge Mr. Sawyer so he could attend the ECOWAS conference. She bluntly refused. They threatened to sue her for kidnapping and violating his human rights (holding him against his will because she did not have a confirmed diagnosis), but this amazon of a liberator continued to resist their relentless pressure. She insisted that “for the greater public good,” she would not release him. Adadevoh immediately created an isolation area, despite the lack of protective equipment, by carving out a wooden barricade outside Patrick Sawyer’s door. Her heroic efforts saved the nation from widespread infection. Neither Nigeria, nor Lagos State were ready for Mr. Sawyer.
Dr. Adadevoh and her team did what they could do with the limited resources and supplies they had in the hospital to treat Mr. Sawyer. Eventually, Sawyer’s Ebola diagnosis was later confirmed, and he died at FCMC.
Her painful premature exit
Dr. Adadevoh herself surrendered to the Ebola Virus Disease while in quarantine and passed away on August 19, 2014, in Lagos. Her body was decontaminated and cremated by the government in response to the curtailment of the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease. Her family obtained her ashes and held a private interment ceremony in Lagos on September 12, 2014.
Dr. Adadevoh, Nigerians will never forget you. You died for her. You paid the supreme price. God bless your soul. Amen.
Queen Iden of Benin
History does not have much of the birth and how the sacrificial Queen Iden, the wife of Oba Ewuakpe, was raised. However, it was recorded that she was one of the wives of the late Oba Ewuakpe of Benin Kingdom that had uncommon love, not only for her husband, but Benin kingdom at large. Iden was the pride and embodiment of love, strength, courage, bravery and African beauty. When Oba Ewuakpe assumed the throne as the Oba of Benin Kingdom, he was bedevilled with two dangerous challenges that left the entire kingdom bewildered. The challenges led to the death of so many people that made his subjects revolt against him. Queen Iden, however, displayed an uncommon love for her husband and the entire Benin kingdom. Queen Iden could be likened to our modern day Saint Valentine.
Iden’s unforgettable exploits and emergence on the national scene
The fascinating and enthralling story of Queen Iden and how she emerged on the national limelight is directly traceable to the reign of her husband, Oba Ewuakpe, at about 1700 AD. The Benin paramount ruler had met two stumbling blocks that made it impossible for him to exercise absolute authority over his subjects. History had it that Oba Ewuakpe was at his very prime with little or no experience of governance when he was installed on the exalted throne of the Oba of Benin.
Oba Ewuakpe was not born an Oba. He was thrust unto the throne by his father, Akennuzama, who had declined to be Oba when he was offered the crown in his old age. The Ihogbe had decided that Akennuzama would be the next Oba of Benin when Ore-Oghene died. Akiennuzama allowed the honour and the responsibility to pass over to his son, Idova. Idova was then hurriedly named Ehennegha. Rightly so because of the prophecy of Oba Ewuare, two and a half centuries before this episode. As Ehennegha, Idova was presented by the Ihogbe to the Uzama and crowned the Oba of Benin, with the title name of Ewuakpe.
Ewuakpe’s reign was characterised by a series of setbacks during the early period, to the extent that all subjects in his kingdom revolted against him. The cause of the revolution was to protest against the monarch’s high-handedness, selfishness and his flagrant disrespect for human lives, which led to the mass killing of his subjects at Uselu, during the funeral of his demised mother, Queen Ewebonoza.
The elders and citizens of Ewuakpe’s Kingdom could no longer put up with his excesses. They were compelled to severe connections with him and suspend all meetings and gatherings at the palace.
This unrest affected all his wives (Olois), the royal slaves (Ovien) and other palace attendants, who all deserted Oba Ewuakpe. The Oba would have been left all alone, except for Queen Iden, who demonstrated her unparralled loyalty and love for her husband by staying with him. With time, life in the palace became unbearable for Oba Ewuakpe and he decided to seek refuge in his mother’s town, Ikoka. But, the Ikoka people rejected him.
In Ewuakpe’s confused state of mind, he beat a retreat back to Benin. During this demoralising period, Queen Iden became the only friend, companion and comforter of Oba Ewuakpe, as she made herself present as the king’s only hope in time of great calamity. In her quest to find a solution to her husband’s misfortune, Queen Iden decided to consult an oracle on behalf of her husband, Oba Ewuakpe. She was certain that the oracle would give instructions and answers on the panacea to the many misfortunes facing the Oba and the ancient kingdom. The oracle divined that what was needed for peace to reign in the kingdom and restore Oba Ewuakpe’s throne was human sacrifice to appease the gods. Iden immediately related the message of the gods to her husband, Oba Ewuakpe.
The message from the diviner, however, seemed to aggravate matters for Oba Ewuakpe because there was no other human being in his palace to sacrifice, besides his wife, Queen Iden, who incidentally was the conveyor of this report. Getting someone else for the human sacrifice became impossible for the royal couple. Queen Iden undertook to be used as the sacrificial lamb needed by the gods for the restoration of the kingdom and its royalty. As soon as Queen Iden proposed to her husband that she would submit herself for the ultimate price, as demanded by the diviners, Oba Ewuakpe became apprehensively bitter, as he could not comprehend the possibility of killing his lovely wife, who had stood by him in times of trouble, in order to atone for the sins his wife had not committed. But, the determined Queen encouraged the royal hands to shed her blood, if only that would appease the ancestral spirits of the land of Benin, so as to stop the strife in the kingdom. When it became glaring to Oba Ewuakpe that there was no other way out of the predicament, he conceded reluctantly, to the pressure mounted by his faithful lover and Queen, to be sacrificed to the gods.
Iden’s death: The sacrificial lamb
Before voluntarily offering herself as a martyr and atonement to the gods, Queen Iden requested for only one favour from the king: that the king should make sure her grave side was kept clean at all times. Queen Iden cautioned against any person treading on her grave, or else, such trespasser would be killed on the spot as a mark of respect for her blessed memory. Eventually, Ewuakpe buried his loving wife alive on the spot. As soon as Oba Ewuakpe finished the sacrificial rituals, some of the prominent chiefs of the kingdom suddenly called for a truce between the throne and its aggrieved subjects. Other Benin chiefs immediately started paying homage to the Benin monarch again and pledged their loyalty to the bereaved Oba Ewuakpe. And truly, when peace, unity and prosperity returned to the kingdom, Queen Iden was never a part of it. What a love affair! What a woman!
Thought for the week
“True love is selfless. It is prepared to sacrifice.” (Sadhu Vaswani)