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February 22, 2017

Brightening up ALVAN with a Blessing

Getting the top job was a surprise to Dr (Mrs) Blessing Ijioma, despite a revelation she had earlier. “It never crossed my wildest imagination that I’d ever be the provost. I am not from Imo State, and Alvan was still an Imo-State institution. I thought it was one of those revelations. But as years went bye, things started unfolding, with the Federal government taking over Alvan,” said the Abia-born, mother of five, beautifully attired in a traditional outfit and pouring over files. It was a surprise to the Methodist preacher, a doctor of food science and technology because she was…

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Beating racism with biology – Ghanaian Teacher floors racist

In the 50s and 60s, many black people living in the West UK and US met with serious, bold-faced racism. Nowadays, colour prejudice is no longer as strong or “in-your-face” as before although it’s not entirely dead, as a Ghanaian teacher found out. Most times, the persons at the receiving end of racism or racial attack are powerless and unable to fight back. Those who can, especially if it’s a case of verbal attack or name calling, usually return the abusive language, name or, better still, invent their own equally derogatory term.  For example, a white man calls you a…

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Dreams of a New Nigeria – Father Agbagwa

It is one thing to want to do something for your country and another to find an enabling environment to do it, especially if that country is Nigeria. Where good things are easily corrupted or allowed to rot from neglect, carelessness and disorder, only the very patient and chronically optimistic will continue to try.  Father Godswill Agbagwa is one of them. He’s among the people who believe that a new Nigeria is still possible – a Nigeria where good leadership, hard work and merit will be the norm.  A visionary, organizer and compassionate youth priest, the Amaimo-born cleric has a…

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Suwakwa Igbo, Biko – It’s ‘Chioma’ not ‘Chaaoma’

Since I attended Odenigbo and heard those shocking revelations about how Igbo people are unwittingly destroying their language, I have been acting like a badly-trained policeman and forcing everyone around me to speak Igbo, especially if they are Igbo in the first place. I’m now more protective of our mother tongue and have no patience with anyone doing anything contrary. That’s why I’m sharing this experience I had in London, recently, at a naming ceremony organized by an Igbo family and attended by 99 per cent Igbos. I will compare it with a similar ceremony in the Caribbean held by…

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Happy New Year from Someone who Really Cares

We have seen her on TV crying at the sight of poverty, which our leaders have collectively created. We have seen her hugging the poor, consoling the bereaved and sharing food to the hungry, who throng her, during her visits to our impoverished rural communities. Finally, we have seen our First Lady commissioning homes she built and furnished for the indigent, products of our selfish Governments, politicians and ruling class – all of them – excluding none! There’s no denying that Nkechi Okorocha really cares. Undoubtedly, our First Lady has touched the lives of several poor people, and more will…

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No Charm at Ukwu-Mango

Just recently, “Ukwu-Mango,” lost one of its best landmarks – the mango tree from which the popular eating spot was named. Besides taking its name from the tree, the mango cooled the air and provided a natural air conditioning in the scorching sun. But the tree is no more because some “NEPA” operatives didn’t know they could trim the mango instead of cutting it down, even if it was blocking power lines. By the way, where’s the power? Many Ukwu-Mango customers who once enjoyed their meals in the open are now forced to sit on the inside, since the demise…

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‘I am sincere in my job’ – Mr Christian Osondu

A damaged “pump” spewing and spattering precious water on the ground is the first sign that all is not well at the institution. The water has been running and wasting, not for hours but days, even weeks, just as the lives of many young men and women who ought to be in their classes, libraries and laboratories studying but are left to wander and roam the streets. Federal Polytechnic Nekede as all other institutions in the country has been on strike for many months and students are left idling about, as education goes to the dogs in Nigeria. Mr Christian…

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Betty and Chinedu: Planning Our Wedding

Planning a wedding can be stressful especially if you’re doing it all alone. Wedding planners are there for those who can pay but the majority must do it themselves. There are loads of “arrangements and arguments involved,” as a would-be bride put it. Every couple must work together, especially if the funds are limited and there’s no godfather to turn it. Guests come mainly to eat, drink, and see what you’re wearing. They may bring gifts but the actual job of putting it together is all yours. Ghanaian-born Betty Sarpong and her British-born fiancé  Chinedu Nnawuchi are finding that out…

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KELECHI GRADUATES WITH HONOURS

He looked at himself in the mirror and smiled, as success looked back at him in a blue hat, yellow hood and long graduation gown. An hour later,  Kelechi Nnawuchi would be shaking hands with Professor Michael Thorne, Vice Chancellor, Anglia Ruskin University at the graduation ceremony. Beaming with smiles among scores of his graduating colleagues proudly making their way to the platform in the presence of parents, friends and well wishers, the 26 –year-old knew his life would never be the same again. Holding his scroll and posing for photographs, the Accounting and Finance graduate smiled triumphantly, happy to…

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The Joys and Pains of Motherhood

Kofo is visibly tired but wouldn’t say so. Chizara will not understand any of that or stop doing what she’s doing. She’s only six-weeks -old and wants everything her way. She’s crying, kicking and shaking, as if someone hit her. “Feed her!” an aunty who fed her just five minutes ago commanded.  Kofo yanked open her blouse, undid her brassier and stuck thick, dark nipples into the little mouth. She sucks quietly for five minutes, plays happily for another five and begins wailing again.   Chizara wants all of her mum; she wants to be cuddled, kissed and rocked endlessly….

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Coming from Congo

Lance Buruka still longs for his native Congo, despite the circumstances of his departure   A quiet, unassuming man, tall and slightly built, the Bangala-born Congolese left his war-torn country with dozens of other refugees to Britain,13 years ago, separated from family, friends and everything he held dear. He was 22.   Now 35 and a father of three, the son of a former politician resides in a foreign country where he tries to rebuild his life. The opportunities are there but things are not as easy as he thought. Even so, he is eternally grateful to those who gave…

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Kalu Onyejiako – Born to live

His life is full of shocks and surprises.  And there are enough scares and bruises on his ageing body to tell his story. He has slept in the forest for nights against his will and has watched himself dying slowly and alone, as his stomach was ripped part by bullets during the Nigerian civil war. The Biafran-30-year-old soldier was gunned down and literally swimming in his own blood. He lay helpless in the bushes, with his intestines out and drying until he was discovered and hospitalized, with little hope of survival. Yet he made it. Kalu Onyejiako or Nda Kalu,…

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Making Money for Government and Smiling

Politics is not for Lilian Asuzu until she hangs her hat as a civil servant. Then, you can check her out on any political platform – the lucky party isn’t known yet. It may be DPP, PCA, PUGA or any other.  But until then, you cannot draw the soft-spoken, conscientious permanent secretary into any public political banter or debate. She’s keeping it close to her chest for now. Like most top civil servants, hers is to support the Government of the day until she hangs her boots. Former Head of Service Mrs. Nkechi Onumajulu made that clear in her interview…

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An Artist was born

Whether artists are born or made depends on who you meet. But when Paddy Obinna says he was born an artist, you can only agree. How else do you explain his multiple talents, plus the fact that he, literally, started to see colours from his mother’s womb?  The master designer wasn’t born with a brush in his hand, but he had eyes for beauty from the start. “I saw myself as an artist from the beginning. My father refused my uncle taking me to Lagos. He said, ‘don’t take Paddy to Lagos. He will start looking at things and vehicles…

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IFEANYICHUKWU – Youth with a mission

He narrowly escaped death in the Madalla Bomb blast on Christmas eve of 2011, when the terrorist Boko Haram blew up scores of innocent people at a Catholic church on the outskirts of Abuja. Stanley Ifeanyichukwu Onuoha was there. His mission was to pray to the Creator and, afterwards, sell his books to the few Nigerians who still believe in reading or can afford to buy. But the struggling writer was unaware that he was standing at death’s door.   Some dare-devils ha d plotted to take him and scores of other worshipers down. “I left my books with a woman…

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When God Says No!

Had things worked out differently, the handsome choirmaster would have married one of his beautiful choristers and fathered several sons and daughters, including probably a Jerome Jr. his namesake.  However, God had a different plan. Notwithstanding, the teenaged choirmaster who later became a priest knew enough at age 16 to be a provider, husband and father.  Raised in a traditional Igbo society, his father Lewis Okonkwo had taught him well and passed on all the necessary survival skills. “My oldest brother was in the army – he was one of the first Ojukwu called for the war. The second son…

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‘Not my Cattle’ – Commissioner of Police

Unlike Governor Okorocha who has an infectious smile and readily shows off his white teeth; the Commissioner of Police Muhammad Musa Katsina doesn’t smile easily, especially when in uniform. In fact, he looks stern when his office is crowded with people making one petition after another, when he’s pondering over the crime rate or considering the number of teenagers in custody for serious offences, including kidnapping. Meeting Katsina for the first time, you’d wonder if he ever smiles. But wait until the dark uniform is replaced with a bright caftan and the 54-year-old strikes a more relaxed pose. Then, he’s…

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Benedict Chibuike Anyanwu – Youth with a Difference

Three words define him: Disciplined, Dynamic and Different.  Blessed with conservative good looks, Benedict or Chibuike, as he is fondly called by family members, is a focused, amiable and diligent young man, a devout Catholic and graduate of Micro Biology. He is a competent youth leader and fine organizer. In a country where unemployment is making mockery of many otherwise gifted and responsible youths, the 26-year-old Lagosian has held his own. He has refused to settle for less, in a nation that pays lip service to youth development. Benedict is unlike many in his age, bereft of even basic good…

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Free Education is not free Certificate!!!

Whether teachers are born or made depends on which teacher you meet. But Sir Andrew Ajaero is every inch a teacher only he’s from the old school. Mbaise-born and a principal for 20 years, Sir Andrew would not negotiate discipline with any school board neither would he spare the rod and spoil the child. Any offence will get the desired punishment – flogging included. But the veteran educator knows times have changed. Having gone to school before the war and started teaching after, he knows that tremendous changes have occurred both in and out of the classroom.  The man who…

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Un-Natural Nigeria Will it expire in 2014?

The North and South protectorates that make up Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914. Next year marks 100 years and questions are being asked. There are Nigerians who feel the country should click glasses and celebrate with cakes and candles, when the day official breaks. Some are saying the “marriage of convenience” should end while others are too busy, trying to make a living, to care. But the Federal Government has commenced activities to commemorate the big event. It’s also possible that some top politicians and big business people are stacking away choice wines and awarding contracts to mark the occasion….

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