‘I AM NOT A WARRIOR, I AM A SICKLER!’

I am a SICKLER, no more no less. Photo: Oluwafemi Ajayi
Ever since Tosin Ola-Weissmann coined the term, WARRIOR to describe people living with sickle cell, the term had gained much acceptance and lots of mileage around the well, English-speaking world.
 Even top officers of the American NIH use the term in preference to the age old term, SICKLER, a word many find derogatory, stigmatizing and offensive. Although it never found its way into the dictionary, the obnoxious term was in use globally.
 In an interview to mark his 70th birthday, Mr Wale Fanu, one of Nigeria's best-known filmmakers, kept referring to himself as a SICKLER, to which this reporter raised no eyebrows.
Mr. Wale Fanu – ‘I am not a Warrior. Photo: Sickle Cell News
However, when Ms Oluwafemi Ajayi, Founder/CEO, Gail Sickle Initiative (GSI), arrived with her sister, Seun, to join in the interview and both introduced themselves not just as WARRIORS but as WINNING WARRIORS, Mr. Fanu snorted, 'I prefer to be called a SICKLER.'

Before any of the duo could beg an explanation, he continued, 'When you say you are a WARRIOR, the first thing that comes up in people's mind is - 'what are you fighting?'"

'Everyone knows what a SICKLER is - you don't need to start explaining!'
Barrister Olokoba – ‘I refrain from calling myself a Warrior.’ Photo: Mufutau Olokoba

While many with SCD may feel let down by such views as expressed by Fanu, a beloved survivor, others such as Barrister Mufutau Olokoba see no reason to clothe SCD with characters it does not possess.

‘Euphemisms do not change the nature of SCD or any other illness condition in any way,’ Olokoba says. ‘I personally refrain from describing myself as a Warrior.’

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