Ade Adepitan: Journey of My Lifetime| 48mins
Director: MICHAEL SIMKIN | Producer:
Focus Years: | Country: United Kingdom
"Making this film has changed my life. It was always very personal territory for me. When the polio virus attacked me as a baby in Nigeria, it took away any chance of me being able to walk.â€
Ade Adepitan, Paralympic medallist and presenter of Channel 4's BAFTA winning Paralympics coverage, was inspired to return to the land of his birth to find out why it remain one of three places on earth where children are still contracting Polio.
What he found challenged, shocked, frightened and inspired him by turn - as he travelled from the commercial centre of Lagos in the south to the dangerous violent north, where health workers risk their lives in an attempt to complete one of most ambitious health campaigns in history, which teeters on the brink of success and failure.
Ade clearly inspires others along the way - as he joins in a game of para-soccer under a flyover in Lagos, gently holds one of the most recent victims in a remote township, and then with a local activist, galvanises the biggest march of polio victims in years in the sub-Saharan town of Sokoto. Joining hundreds of men and women who usually are hidden away in their homes, they take over the main street on their primitive wheelchairs, skateboards and crutches, leaves him exhausted but jubilant. â€œI canâ€™t get over how motivated these people are. Every step must be painful. But theyâ€™ve still got a smile on their face.â€
Along the way, Ade discovers the toxic mix of religion, superstition and suspicion of the outsider, the so called "White Witch", that has made the task of eradication so difficult. He feels real impotence as meets the parents who have made the tragic decisions that resulted in their children being "crippled" a word he is happy to use in this context.
But this is not simply some local battle. Polio is a virulent virus. Unless the combined forces of state and local leaders can be brought together for the final push, other countries that are now free can easily be re-infected and decades of work could be undone.
Ade Adepitan is now a fully signed-up fighter in that battle.