The Diasporan Perspective
By Ekerete Udoh
He is another example of the ever growing number of Nigerian Diaspora who has used their expertise and skills to improve the human condition in their adapted countries. He represents the best of the Nigerian spirit-inquiring, studious, reflective and eternally desiring to break new frontiers. All over the world, their ingenuity – in medical sciences, technological wizardry, the media and other facets of the human experience have been acknowledged and celebrated.
Dr. Justice E. Obi- originally from Anambra State and a New York City resident earned a bachelor degree in pharmacy from Texas Southern University and a medical degree from Juarez Medical School-Mexico has come up with drugs that cure genital warts. The drugs-Dekilo HP and Dekilo HM are in the final stages of approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)
Genital warts according to definition by the Center for Disease control (CDC) are growth found in and around the vagina, penis, vulva, cervix and rectum areas that are caused by sexually transmitted human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The disease which affects approximately half a million people in the United States every year, is very common in Europe, North and South American continents and Australia. It however, is less common in Central and West African countries, except in South Africa where the infection is highly prevalent. No known method for cure, prevention and treatment of this disease has been found yet-until Dr. Obi’s invention- a development he seems to relish intently.” I thank God for using me as a scientific instrument to bring lasting succor and cure to a disease that has caused so many people psychological and emotional stress- a disease that is socially debilitating and mentally devastating. When I see the happiness on the faces of people who agreed to experiment the drug-the joy of knowing that finally, they can resume and live a happy and fulfilled lives and not being socially isolated, it brings tears to my eyes.”
The inspiration for the discovery of the ingredients that has led to the cure m of genital warts like that associated with another drug-Viagra was serendipitous at best. According to Dr. Obi, “I had a personal experience with something that was totally unrelated to genital warts and I was using a particular medication to treat it-all to no avail. I was very unhappy and one day, given my medical and pharmacy background, I decided to try another approach, and this was just a flash of inspiration. With the mixture I had just done, I was shocked to realize that when I applied it, the growth that was on my skin for years was gone in two days. I couldn’t believe it. Was I dreaming? I had asked mysef? How could something I had battled to cure for years just got cured in less than two days form a mixture I had just done-which I didn’t think could bring any medical succor to the problem? I was over the moon with excitement. This was in 1986 at Graceland Medical Group- a medical facility that I am a co-founder, which is located in Lagos. I was in Lagos at that time.”
Dr. Obi said when he came back to the United States, he didn’t follow-up on the invention until 2011 when he saw many patients with various forms of warts and he asked if they would like to try a drug that he believed could cure the disease. “Most agreed to try the medication and I was excited when they came back two days later to exclaim their warts were gone. Words soon spread and soon a lot of people started showing up to demand for the drug, and I offered it to them free of charge. So far, everyone who has visited my pharmacy has been cured of genital warts and with this realization, I decided to make moves to introduce the drug to the world. I contacted a company that assists people with their inventions-InventHelp and they helped put together all the necessary paper work to get the drug introduced to the market. As this point, the product is in the process of being approved by the FDA and a number of drug companies have shown interest in partnering with us. It is a great feeling and I can’t just contain myself with the realization that finally people with this problem will heave a sigh of relief.”
Dr. Obi who has lived in American for close to 40 years has an interesting personal story as well. He was a witness to the series of events that signaled the end of the Biafran War. “I was one of the bodyguards to the Biafran Chief of Navy-Commodore Anuku and I narrowly missed the aircraft that took General Ojukwu out of Biafra for the last time as the Head of State and Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces. But there was another aircraft that came to drop some relief materials at Uga Airport, and it was that one that I, along with other top brass of the Biafran Armed forces-including Anuku and the Chief of Air Force boarded to make our escape. It was a very surreal experience. The pilot had to turn off the light upon take off and flew the plane without light on, until we left the airspace that was controlled by the Nigerian side.
We landed in Sao Tome and Principe from where we were taken to Gabon. From Gabon, we were quarantined for days until the Gabonese government felt we were ready to mix with the civilian population. There were hundreds of thousands of Biafran children that had been taken there by the World Council of Churches and they were in various stages of malnutrition- with dis-extended stomachs (Kwashiorkor) and other ailments. I got a job as a security officer at the camp. My main assignment was to ensure that the kids were fed six times a day and that there was order and discipline in the camp. It was from there that I came to the United States on a student visa and as they say, the rest is history.’
Dr. Obi advised the Nigerian political leaders to ensure that they maintain the peace and harmonious relationship with all the component units “I have been reading some of the divisive rhetoric that has been coming from certain quarters. Some have been beating the drum of separation. Well, let me advise those who are advocating that approach that separations don’t usually happen peacefully. Even though some have happened in that manner-like the recent South Sudan most, usually involve wars. Some of us who saw the horror of war as young men should never dream of seeing a similar theater of destruction again in our lifetime. In spite of what our differences are, we should endeavor to live in peace and resolve our issues amicably.”
Thank you New York State Senate for the honor bestowed on me
During the events that capped the Black History Month that was organized by New York television legend- the man who for years was the face of Fox News flagship station-Fox 5 in New York-Bill MCreary last February, your sincerely alongside Kenton Kirby-the publisher of the largest Caribbean newspaper in the United States-Caribbean Life was honored. In a citation that was read and presented by the influential Senator John Sampson of the New York State Senate, he observed thus “ As a duly elected Member of the State Senate of New York, recognize that in Ekerete Udoh we have an outstanding citizen, one who is worthy of the esteem of both the Community and the Great State of New York; Whereas it is imperative that we recognize and applaud his exceptional contributions to the state, city and community; Resolved, that we salute and recognize Ekerete Udoh today at the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce Black history month Cocktail and Networking Reception.”
Thank you Senator Sampson for the award and as I stated at the event, I pledge to continue projecting the best that our African nay Nigerian community represents. Africa and Nigeria in particular has a lot to offer the world and I am glad that the world is beginning to realize that we don’t need a handout but a hand-up, and when that is done, the undying spirit of ingenuity will manifest as is the case in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.
Stories that touch the heart
Continued from last edition.
One night of wrong judgment and one hell of a painful experience: why every woman must read this story (Concluded)
The next day, I decided to confront the issue headlong and let Stan know the truth about his paternity. I needed to prepare him for the bombshell disclosure. Sitting on the couch in our bedroom, I started off by apologizing for what I was going to tell him, and imploring him to find it in his heart to forgive me, while pleading my love for him’ Mum, you are speaking in parables, please can you tell me what is going on? Stan had demanded- a tad impatient. “You remember that uncle you saw in church the other day-the one you said looked like you” Yes, mum, I remember. What about him?” Stan had inquired. “Well, that’s your father.” “I don’t understand…you mean daddy (Tim) is not my biological father?” “Unfortunately yes, Stan.”
As I watched Stan lower his head and tears rolling down his cheeks, I cursed the day I allowed my vulnerabilities to take a better side of my judgment. I went ahead to tell Stan everything and that Ken and I were lovers before I met Tim and that I had allowed one moment of lapse in judgment and the result was his birth. Clearing his throat after crying for over ten minutes, Stan had asked “so what is going to happen now? Does it mean I won’t be living here any longer? What happens to my sister? How would she cope without me”? I must confess that I was somewhat impressed by the mature way Stan had handled the situation and the very concerns he raised. I assured him that things will sort themselves out and that they won’t be a wholesome break in relationship.
Having spoken to Stan, my next assignment was to talk to my little daughter and that was where my heart melted. My little girl cried and was inconsolable. “So my big brother will leave me mum? Oh my God”! She had screamed.
Needless to say the tension in my home was deep and thick. My husband, Tim had stopped talking to me, and won’t touch my food. We were like two perfect strangers and for the three months that the tension lasted, I lost almost 50 pounds and was shallow of my otherwise bubbly self.
There weeks after I had spoken to Stan about his biological father, Ken invited us to meet him for a dinner date. He had checked himself into a hotel suite and as we walked into the luxurious suite, he got up, gave me a kiss on the cheeks, held Stan’s hand tightly and I can remember telling Stan” Stan, here’s your father-Ken” and I will never forget the scene that I saw. Ken had stretched his arms and as if on cue, Stan had held him tightly in a warm embrace that lasted almost five minutes. Both were muttering “I love you son” and I love you too, daddy.” Blood as they say was thicker than water and as we went home after the dinner, Stan felt very relieved and almost happy.
It has been a year now since Stan and Ken met and even before DNA was done, during the process of name change, I had already known that Ken was Stan’s father, which was confirmed by the DNA. Stan is now a senior in high school, and has become a basketball phenom, while his sister, after months of stress and alienation, has regained her bounce. Stan now lives with his father, and visits us regularly. My husband, unable to deal with the situation, went and started an affair with a younger woman, who few months ago, bore him a son. He spends most of his time there these days, only coming home once a week to see his daughter. Even though legally we are still married, we are for all intense and purposes separated. I couldn’t find the moral courage to confront him when he started the affair with his girlfriend-Lisa.
At 39, I have found myself condemned to a life of loneliness because of a lapse of judgment. My father, who died last year, was mad at me and it remains the issue that has tormented me the most-that I disappointed my father. I hope my story will help ladies out there who someday may be confronted with the same scenario I found myself in, almost 16 years ago, and learn to control certain instincts. I have become so morbidly afraid of men that it is emotionally crippling me. Even though my husband-Tim has practically abandoned me, I have found it difficult to take relationships beyond the ‘meet and greet’ level. I feel it is a cross I have to bear, which by hindsight, I shouldn’t have if only I had firmly told Ken to back off and held the fire of passion that was raging in us. Only if I had done so… (God I am losing it, I can feel tears forming in my eyes,) but I will be okay. God whom I have already made supplications and atoned for my error of judgment will help me through this difficult period
Yvonne Nelson’s story now on The Diasporan Star website
Three weeks ago, I did a promo on the exclusive interview I did with the sexy Ghanaian actress-Yvonne Nelson. Readers may read that story on The Diasporan Star website: www.thediasporanstaronline.com