Nigeria hits new high notes against polio
Dan Maraya Jos plays the kuntigi, a one-string lute, while performing a song urging the immunization of children against polio. Photo courtesy of Busuyi Onabolu
For over four decades, folklorist Dan Maraya Jos has stirred the hearts of Nigerians with songs on a range of social issues.
He has written more than 1,000 songs and released 150 records, using his musical talent to promote Operation Feed the Nation, the Universal Primary Education program, and other national initiatives.
In January, Dan Maraya was named Rotary's ambassador for polio eradication in Nigeria. "[He] no doubt has become a living legend with his lyrics and kind of music, which has gained acceptance amongst the low and mighty, in the towns, and even in the remotest rural areas," says Nigeria PolioPlus Committee Chair Busuyi Onabolu.
A custodian of Hausa culture and tradition, Dan Maraya has also performed in several countries in Africa, Europe, and Latin America, as well as in the United States. His long list of awards includes Nigeria's Federal Republic Medal and the Order of the Niger.
Dan Maraya has recorded three radio public service announcements (PSAs) in a regional version of Rotary International's " We Are This Close to Ending Polio" campaign. The PSAs are aimed at listeners who speak the Hausa language.
"President Yar'Adua is calling, the Sultan of Sokoto is calling, traditional and religious leaders are calling, and Rotary International is calling all families to take children under five years for polio immunization," he says in one of the PSAs.
Such social mobilization efforts helped vaccination teams reach more than 40 million children during Nigeria's Immunization Plus Days, held from 30 January to 2 February. For the first time in Nigeria, the new bivalent oral polio vaccine was used to target the two types of wild poliovirus remaining in the country: types 1 and 3.
Nigeria is one of four countries in the world (along with Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan) where polio remains endemic. In 2009, the incidence of polio in Nigeria dropped by more than 50 percent, compared with 2008. Only 13 cases have been reported since August.
"What this means in very simple terms is that we are now reaching more children," says Onabolu. "And Rotary International, as catalyst for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, is determined to support every effort at mobilizing the citizenry toward ensuring every child is immunized."
Learn more about Rotary's effort to eradicate polio:
Read more about polio and what you can do to help.
Watch a video about Rotary's progress in meeting the US$200 Million Challenge