NOVEMBER 24, 2014 By Gabriel Benjamin
“I am always grieved when a man of real talent dies. The world needs such a man more than heaven does” George Christophe.
Words cannot describe the shock that gripped me when I read the news online about the death of Dr. Martin Maada Salia. At first I debunked it as a rumour, but as the news gathered momentum and authenticity from key health players and various international media houses – audio visual and print – I had to believe and accept it as true.
Greater love has no one than to die in answering a heart’s call and a neighbor’s cry. There is no greater love than for a living soul who in his quest to save his country from the Ebola Virus’ menace, bow to its chilling hands.
If anyone can truly measure devotion, passion, compassion, and commitment, then the late Dr. Salia epitomized those attributes. A colossus of no mean repute. An indisputable ‘Class Act’ on his own. His infectious personality and disarming smile was a no-brainer – it compels and attracts everyone to him. Ineluctably, Dr. Salia was imbued with an unquestionable ethos of professional excellence. He exemplified in his illustrious but brief life, that the ‘very best’ is still possible and present in us as Sierra Leoneans in spite of our collective doubts and denigration. Little wonder, his colleagues and friends drew ‘national and international attention’ to his deteriorating health condition, which compelled the relevant authorities to fly him overseas for proper medical attention.
Dr. Salia’s sudden death on 17th November 2014 in Nebraska Medical Center’s Bio-Containment Unit, USA, after contracting the dreaded Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, came with a ‘rude shock’ to Sierra Leoneans both at home and in Diaspora. His death has continued to dominant the subject of discussion among his friends, admirers, sympathizers and the international community. Journalists who have doggedly followed his case since he tested positive for the Ebola virus are not exempt in this regard. His death further revealed that ‘it matters not how a man dies, but how helives’.
A virus likened to a ‘cartoon character’ with puny RNA genome, evil matrix, soiled nucleocapsid, tainted glycoprotein spikes and smelly envelope, has left us with a tragic tragedy.
The late Dr. Salia did no harm but well. He summoned uncommon courage, ignored denials, dutifully and diligently carried out the obligations in the ‘Hippocratic Oath’ of his noble profession. While he gave medical care to Ebola virus victims, he contracted the virus for his care. His love for his country and indeed humanity made him risk his life to fulfill the ‘Hippocratic Oath’. He eventually paid the ‘supreme price’, but we will always remain grateful to God for a life like his – great life, suffused with love for mankind and humanity.
Within the relatively short span of his life, he made indelible impact in the sands of time. He will remain a pride to Sierra Leone in particular and humanity in general. His actions were selfless. Only God can, and will reward him for the sacrifice he made for his fellow countrymen.
Yes, we know how much resources and efforts go into the training of a medical doctor. These are not loss because life indeed is quantified to the extent for which it is lived for the service of man and humanity. Although we would have loved to have him continue to render his impeccable services to humanity, but God knows best.
The late Dr. Salia glowed with sensitivity and candour. His lights were enchanting. He was an embodiment of courage, kindness and love. He was a true patriot and a rare gem, who gave his all so that others may be spared the agony of the Ebola virus. He paid the ultimate price because he would not abandon his patients even in the face of danger and death. He gave his time and talents so that Sierra Leoneans may be spared the agony of the Ebola virus. His human nature was overwhelming. He saved, but died in healing hands. His sacrifice will not be in vain. He is more than a warrior, he is a hero. ‘A savior’ indeed he was. When he died, ‘an angel’ fled away from us. Above, in God’s bosom – a new saint he will be.
We are all on earth for a reason and when our time comes and our mission is done, we will depart. You have accomplished your mission Dr. Salia and gone on to a better place. My heartfelt condolences go out to your family for they have lost a prudent man, a precious husband and a priceless father.
I, just like millions of other Sierra Leoneans, will never forget you. Your memory will continue to resonate just like that of your forebearers. Thank you for insisting on doing the most bail of your responsibilities when others would have buckled under pressure. I know that you feel no more pain where you are and that a host of angels have taken you to rest. You will never be forgotten, even in a country like ours.
You were one of the frontline fighters in the war to contain the continual spread of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. You were an embodiment of courage, kindness, and patriotism. We and all who now mourn your demise would be comforted that you died a hero. Though your death is heartbreaking, we join your family, friends and fans to pray that your gentle soul rest in eternal peace today, always and forever.
Take a well deserved seat amongst the company of Angels and Saints in heaven. We will continue to pray for your family, friends and colleagues; to have the courage they need this trying time to bear the irreparable lost. But when finally the dust of the Ebola virus settles, we hope that the authorities in the country will forever be grateful and immortalize your contributions to the fight against the Ebola virus.
When someone we love dies, we never get to see them again but we will always feel them, because they live in our hearts, smiles, tears and memories. Alas! We cannot touch them, but we can never forget how they touched us.
Farewell to an Eminent Surgeon Specialist, Passionate Physician, Quintessential Comrade and Valiant Soldier. You laid down your life to ensure that humanity survives. You plunged in your life, and that has earned you eternal fame. We salute you. We praise your heroic professionalism.
Now comes the mystery: death is but a little work, but it is a great work to die. When beggars die, there are no comets seen; but the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes. He that dies pays all debt – that was the last thing you did.
Adieu! Till we meet (at Jesus’ Feet) to part no more.