Dora Akunyili’s fight against fake drugs won my respect —Wellcome Book Prize finalist, Ayobami Adebayo

A Lagos State-born novelist, Ayobami Adebayo, has revealed that the late Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Mrs. Dora Akunyili was one Nigerian politician, she could call a role model.

Adebayo, in an interview with a British magazine, New Statesman, published on Wednesday, said of the late Dora Akunyili, “Her efforts to get rid of fake drugs in Nigeria saved thousands, if not millions, of lives. She was the first Nigerian politician, I could actually respect.”

The 30-year-old author, whose first novel, ‘Stay with Me,’ was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, also criticised politicians for not doing enough to save the earth.

Adebayo further expressed her wish for Akunyili’s daughter, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, to paint her portrait.

Speaking on another career paths, she would have chosen in another life, she said, “Historian, anthropologist, teacher or playwright. In 3018, I would love to be a therapist for robots who have had it with their human colleagues. In 2018, I would settle for being a therapist to humans.

“The planet appears to be (doomed), but maybe we’ll figure out how to live on Mars. It would be easier and more practical to pursue policies that could actually save this planet, but I suppose politicians have secret mansions on Mars already.”

Listing some of her favourite songs, the novelist singer said, “This goes back and forth between ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and ‘Amazing Grace’. There’s also Simi’s version of Ebenezer Obey’s Yoruba classic, ‘Aimasiko’.”

Adebayo stated that her earliest memory was of herself standing in the living room, desperate to be in the kitchen instead.

“I definitely wasn’t four yet because we were still in my family’s first home. What I remember vividly about that moment is the smell of vanilla wafting towards me from the kitchen.

“I think my mother was baking a cake that day. Even now, I can hardly resist the pull of a slice of cake,” she said.

According to her, the last book that changed her thinking was Emmanuel Iduma’s “Artful and Gorgeous ‘A Stranger’s Pose’.”

She added, “I’ve always thought of myself as decidedly and irrevocably Yoruba/Nigerian. This book challenged my ideas about home and identity.”



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