Chukwuemeka Obiajunwa, PhD

Chukwuemeka Obiajunwa, PhD

I do not like talking about myself. I would rather be talking about Africa, and what we can do individually and collectively; properly and appropriately; rightfully and selflessly, to empower the African people and enable them regain their basic human dignity.

After more than 70 years of seemingly massive foreign aid from the rich western countries to Africa;

After more than 50 years of armies of so called “development workers” from the multi-national NGOs have been invading Africa;

After more than 100 years of bible-toting crusading evangelists have been invading Africa;

Nothing in Africa, of Africa, and about Africa has changed. In fact, Africa and Africans are worse off today than before the advent of the white man.

I would rather talk about why nothing changes, or has never changed in Africa, than talk about myself.

* * * * * * * *

Well, if I have to; I was born in Nigeria, of the Igbo tribe; into a royal well-to-do family. As you would say, I am a Prince, or rather a Crown-Prince about to be installed in my village in succession to my father.

 My early education was dominated, and massively influenced by the Irish Catholic missionaries.

 As a little boy I saw first-hand the immense suffering and privation of children my own age that I used to wonder as to why they had to suffer that way. For example, when I saw little boys and girls used as beasts of burden logging or dragging loads heavier than their own body weights, on their heads and backs, over long distances, I remember always saying to myself that I would rather not be born than to be born to suffer a fate such as these.

 I witnessed the Nigeria-Biafra war as an adolescent teenager. I happened to be a Biafran. The horror and brutality of that war damaged me and reshaped my life. After three horrendous years during which my family lost everything; and I had lost almost every single one of my friends, to the war, I became very disillusioned. I nursed a deep hatred for all the countries that betrayed Biafra and caused its demise.

 I wanted to become a priest and entered the Seminary. My years in the Seminary were the best of times, and the worst of times. They were very bitter days. They were very sweet days. My family opposed the idea very vehemently, on the grounds that I was the third in line of succession to the chieftaincy.

 I tried very hard and struggled earnestly to stay. I was very happy in the seminary, yet very sad. I was loved by my professors and fellow students. I was a model seminarian. I spent most of my free and spare time in the chapel. The Spiritual Director got to know me personally. What I was going through epitomized The Agony and Ecstasy. I had to leave the seminary temporarily. But I knew I was leaving this sacred and hallowed ground forever, never to return to become a priest.

 There were these parting words from my Spiritual Director: You do not have to become a priest to be a “priest”. Everyone has been called to the priesthood of Christ. Be vigilant, for your call will come again.

 I could not stay in Nigeria after it had mercilessly crushed the beautiful and promising Biafra. I had to leave Nigeria. I promised myself to leave Nigeria. And I believed in myself to leave Nigeria in spite of all the near insurmountable odds that faced me.

 I found a home in Canada. I have lived, studied, and worked in Canada for almost 35 years. I traveled extensively all over the world in the course of my profession as an international trade broker and consultant.

 In 1998, business assignment brought me to the Great Lake Region of East Africa. My professional engagement was brief, but a spiritual epiphany had taken place. There I came face-to-face with starving, skeleton-like people; fly-infested, disease-riddled, parched, and dying of thirst. I saw poverty in its most brutish, unforgiving form. I realized that what I was witnessing was a microcosm of the rest of Africa. I was horrified; I was a haunted man.

 I felt strongly that I must do something to alleviate the suffering and sheer human misery. I believe very firmly that there must be a better way to resolving the human tragedy that is Africa. Hence, Africa We Care