Private Screening of Ebola Film Jolts Fading Memory

Producers of 93 Days – Mr. Steve Gukas, who also directed (left); Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters; Pemon Rami and Dotun Olakunri

Producers of 93 Days – Mr. Steve Gukas, who also directed (left); Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters; Pemon Rami and Dotun Olakunri

When 93 Days, a film directed by Steve Gukas on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), premieres on September 16, before it finally opens to cinema-going audiences across the country and the world, what many will ask, as some in the audience did last Thursday after being walked through the harrowing, secluded chambers of affected staff of First Consultant Hospital, would be, ‘did that really happen? How did the country survive it? What lessons have been learned? What preparations are there for such future emergency?’

These questions become more urgent for a country and people that forget so easily, perennially plagued by collective amnesia.

Indeed, a foreboding chill ran through the spines of the audience at Genesis Cinema hall, Palm Shopping Mall, Lekki, Lagos, where the screening took place. Just two years ago, and it seems ages ago when it happened in 2014, when Ebola plague ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and came to Nigeria through the American-Liberian, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, and the country stood in baited breath and waited for the worst. But some individuals braved the odds and stood firm and battled it to a bitter end.

Some inevitably lost their lives, as necessary sacrifices for the rest of society to live through it.But having survived, do people remember? Two years and the country would seem to have forgotten except the families that were directly affected, whose loved ones perished and those fortunate to have scaled through and emerged from the chamber of horror and death, scared but alive.

Today, Gukas and his production crew stand as the gatekeepers of memory of that harrowing experience. It is the primary duty of the arts and its practitioners to never forget even when the rest of humanity has forgotten, to remind of the happy and not so happy past and harness it for future use. The film’s catchphrase on the leaflet is ‘Each day could be the beginning of man’s nightmare,’ and certain words also leap to mind, ‘fear, heroes, sacrifice, life, love’ – words that congregate in one moment of sheer helplessness in the face of a rampaging disease.

93 Days is a debt of gratitude the nation and the world pay certain individuals who gave their all, their lives, so others could survive. Dr. Stella Adadevoh (played by Bimbo Akintola) stands out in the honour’s roll call, as she battles an unknown disease, alongside her younger colleagues, all caught in the web of a mysterious disease. Also, a certain American and an Egyptian manned the seclusion chambers until the disease burnt itself out and Nigeria got a clean bill of health.


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