Funny isn’t it, how sometimes the gravity of a situation might seem somewhat unreal…somewhat exaggerated even…when resounding echoes of a distant cry is all it is, but when the dice is rolled, with tables turned and the so called distant alarm hits our own very shores, then and only then, do we truly understand the true meaning of the pain that lies there in. No longer do we offer half-hearted words of encouragement, while secretly thanking God ours wasn’t that heavy burden to bear. Like an unflinching arrow, the truth stares us boldly in the face, testing our faith, daring us to forge ahead or surrender to its unyielding power.
Midyear 2014, news of the dreaded Ebola virus a highly contagious and deadly virus ravaging Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and other West African countries was at our every turn; greedily topping the daily news, blasting the radios and driving social media into a frenzy and yes, we, while we did sympathise with our brothers, offering a little prayer from time to time, the reality didn’t dawn until the ill fated date in July 2014 when a certain high profile Liberian diplomat with the disease, Patrick Sawyer, decided against better judgment to land Nigeria in order to attend an ECOWAS convention in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
And just like that, that singular inconsiderate decision of a perhaps selfish and desperate individual willing to survive and forge ahead at all cost regardless of who gets hurt, almost changed our lives forever. A visibly ill Patrick Sawyer upon arrival had collapsed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, leading to his being rushed to the First Consultants Medical Centre, Obalende, Lagos. Thus, began a tale we know all too well.
Working for 93 Days is its stellar cast and use of actual locations of the incident; from First Consultant Hospital, Obalende, to the Isolation Centre in Yaba, Lagos. The movie’s script takes care to stick with utmost care to every bit of information it could gather from survivors’ accounts of their near death experience with the Ebola Virus and portrayed them thus; from the victim’s painful reliance on ORS –a not so appealing oral rehydration to stay hydrated, aches and pain to even the inspirational cassette owned by Dr. Ada which kept her moving on, 93 Days brings to picture what the viewers already know, no suspense whatsoever.
Perhaps a more detailed script following its long duration (2hrs) would have sufficed; rather than painting the exact picture which we already knew in our heads, answers should have been provided with depth – Who was the said who willingly gave up her life for her nation?, Who were the real persons beneath the doctors’ robe?, Were the actual victims truly treated with care and utmost dignity as portrayed by the First Consultant team on screen?
As regards performance of the cast; Bimbo Akintola portrayed Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh; a passionate physician who puts the whole world before her needs, however certain parts of her character appear slightly exaggerated as her human nature is traded for this “heroic” personality who – even when it dawns she has been infected with the Ebola virus still puts others above herself. That aside, it was a brilliant performance, another character who stood out was Somkele Idhalama who played the role of a determined Dr. Ada Igonoh determined to survive against all odds – although generally Somkele puts out an amazing performance, however bits of her character seem rather unrealistic; even for a strong personality there was hardly any visible emotion shown for someone who had just received the devastating news she had contacted the virus… but from the death of her colleague which shook her to the very core, Somkele’s undeniable acting prowess shone through brightly. Also notable was Keppy Ekpenyong who played the man at the centre of the averted crisis – Patrick Sawyer.
93 Days, an effort at portraying undaunted passion, courage, hope, unconditional love and sacrifice … barely succeeds as it merely floats on the surface without actually delving deep. The film hardly provides answers which the viewers crave. – Who were these heroes who gave it all for their country at the expense of their precious lives? Particularly who was Dr. Adadevoh? Instead it focuses on showing us what we already knew. Whether or not the producers of the movie argue that Dr. Adedevoh was not the sole premise in which the movie is built, truth is, she was the driving force behind the teams’ success and therefore the very reason the film 93 Days existence in the first place, so yes, her memory deserved a more apt depiction on screen.
While Dr. Ada Igonoh, Dr. Ibeawuchi Morris and Dr. Fadipe Akinniyi of First Consultant including Kelechi Enemuo wife of late Dr. Iyke Samuel Enemuo and Dennis Akagha fiancé of late Nurse Justina Ejelonu were lucky to survive, Justina Ejelonu (29) and Abdulqudir (36) protocol assistant who worked with Patrick Sawyer and Head Physician Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh (58) – who had taken it upon herself to ensure that Patrick, against his insistence and threats from the “powers that be” be prevented from being given freedom so as to curtail the spread of the disease, gave up their lives for our country Nigeria.
The movie directed by Steve Gukas, stars Bimbo Akintola (Stella Adadevoh ), Keppy Ekpenyong (Patrick Sawyer) Somkele Idhalama , (Ada Igonoh), Gideon Okeke (Dr. Morris Ibeawuchi), Keppy Ekpenyong- Bassey (Patrick Sawyer), Tim Reid ( Sam Adeniyi Jones), Danny Gover (Dr. Benjamin Ohiaeri), Tina Mba, Franca Brown, Alastair Mackenzie (Dr. David Brett Majors), Bimbo Manuel (Dr. Wasiu Gbadamosi), Charles Okafor (Afolabi Cardoso) and others.
On October 20, 2014 Nigeria was officially declared Ebola free by the World Health Organisation. Although 93 Days will no doubt garner rave reviews generally, one cannot but deny the role in which the actual incident plays in its success. Without the actual background knowledge, 93 Days is just another Nollywood flick as it has many things working for it, but offers little really.