Chris Uwaje highlights the power of Technology to discover and improve life
This a true story of the power of Technology to discover and improve life. Sounds like Tale of the unexpected but it’s a true life story. An incredible story of pain, tears, joy and rewarding smile! It seems to replicate the philosophy of life as a W/hole – out of which we all emerged running, as the door opens into the world of light, from the dark side of life with a loud cry, followed by a precious smile – some nanoseconds after! After 33 Years of disconnected family roots Information adventure and mental torture Douweny was finally connected by Google and united with his ancestral roots – an investment of about 5-7 years of painstakingly probing of the global Internet Search Engine – Google, changing his life forever!
DOUWENY Ossai Egwarusor was born 33 years ago in Senegal to a Nigeria father from Agbor, Delta State of Nigeria and Mrs. Fatoumata a Senegalese mother. His father Ossai Egwarusor was a skilled Aeronautic Mechanic/Technician in Senegal. Father Ossai’s fatherly love for Douweny – the last born of 5 children – knew no bounds. But when Douweny was seven (7) years old, tragedy stuck – father Ossai ran the final lap of the race of life and joined his ancestors!
On this Holy Thursday 26th August 2016, I sighted this full-bearded strange creature at the departure hall of the Lagos Domestic Airport as I was waiting for my Arik flight to Asaba. As usual, the Flight was delayed, so, I got busy with my Laptop, with the stored focal picture of the Man-Child Douweny in my mindset. Raising my eyes one in a while, I could still see him in a complete solitude (out of this world) – with his carry-on plastic bag firmly clenched between his legs, pulling and cuddling his stack black long beards like a baby with her Teddy bear!
I was still hitting the gray keyboard of my Laptop when after 38 minutes of waiting-delay, the irritating voice from the Airport acoustic announcement system blasted off – saying: ‘ Lagos-Asaba flight 628 now boarding’ – probing my ear drums like a faint dream. Suddenly, the reality alert had me running: as I heard ‘Final Boarding for Lagos-Asaba. Lagos-Asaba Final Bounding’. At that point, it dawned on me that I must shut down my system and jump into the tarmac bus.
I did jump and was taxied to the waiting Arik Flight – and behold, as I gesticulated to slide into my Aisle seat No 17C to the left of the 50 sitter air-plane, I couldn’t believe my eyes – there sat on seat No. 17B, Mr. Douweny majestically at the window seat – piercing through the clear glass into the cloud. Impossible my sub-conscious mind registered as I said hello before sliding the Backpack with my Laptop into the inner baggage compartment.
As I sat down, I could sense that I have a troubled mind as co-passenger on this special Lagos-Asaba flight. Yes, special indeed, as my Asaba mission was taking me to witness and celebrate with the State on the occasion of her 25th anniversary of the creation of Delta State. I was tenaciously looking forward to hear the Executive Governor of Delta State – Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa speak. Especially at an occasion such as the 25th anniversary celebration of Delta State, having had the privilege to hear the visionary leader speak in July 2016 at the DS-IHUB, when he commissioned the Technology Innovation Hall of fame and the e-Government Academy at the DS-Innovation Hub – a Knowledge Park powered by Jim Ovia and donated recently to the State by Zenith Bank Plc as a CSR initiative.
Sitting down firmly in my seat, I performed the ‘fasten your seat belt’ rituals and engaged this unusual mind called Douweny. How are you sir? – I fired my second shot. ‘Fine’ he responded with a great relieve like a soul wandering in a no-man’s land. His English can pass for a broken cord but audible. ‘Are you going to Asaba’? – I probed on. And he replied with: ‘No Agbor – will my Baggage get there’? Sensing the urgency and concern about his baggage in his tone, I asked him if he had identified his luggage before boarding. ‘No I did not’!
‘Hell no’, I fired back ‘you better go and do that so that it will not be left behind for security reasons. Within a twinkle of an eye, Douweny just got up beckoning on me to grand him access to the runway to identify his luggage. I unbuckled my seat belt without delay to allow him move from his window seat through my Aisle seat to the baggage loading area. As he departed towering downwards, I saw in front of me a fully-built, tall and lanky gentleman of about 6.3ft in height, wearing a white caftan with a befitting white cap to match. After a couple of minutes, he returned relieved with a smile. In soliloquy, I said to myself ‘thank God, at least his luggage will not be left behind’.
As he was sitting down and fastening his belt, my inquisitive mind probed further; ‘so, what is taking you to Agbor – do you live there?’. It took him a while to respond – as if he were a primary school student who is searching for the right answer to question. Finally, as we taxied and gelid the Runway and lifted up into the cloudy gray sky, he said: For more than 5 years ago – roughly between 5-7 years, I try to find back to my father who hails from a village in Agbor, journeyed to Senegal in west Africa several years ago and settled there. My father Ossai Egwarusor was a skilled Aviation Mechanic/Technician. He married my mother Mrs. Fatoumata a Senegalese woman. The marriage was blessed with 5 children. I am the last child of the family and was very fond of him. Unfortunately, father died when I was 7 years old. I’ve always had his life image in my heart and my mind and head are full of his beautiful memory’. At this point, I interjected and said: ‘So what took you so long to search for your roots after 33 good years?’
Douweny was close to tears! ‘Oh is a long story’ he said. I was so young when he died. I grew up and migrated to Spain with my mother. I have lived in Spain for several years and the urge to search for my father’s roots has always held me prisoner! Indeed, I started about 7 years ago (I can’t remember precisely but it’s between 5 and 7 years) to search the world to locate my roots. I started by searching the Internet with Google to locate my father’s origin. It was tough, because I speak French and Spanish, and had to conduct my Internet searches in English. I was told he came from Agbor in Nigeria – that was all! Unfortunately, after about 3 years of search I lost my Smart Phone with all its password and Data. I resumed my search in the last 2 years and was narrowly lucky to co-incidentally find the “Story of Agbor” written by Professor Princely Ifinedo’.
‘Then what happened’, I queried. Douweny was close to tears as he responded: ‘Oh my hope! It seemed no one believed my life story. When I send a mail to Professor Ifinedo, it was very difficult to convince him that I am a son of Ossai Egwarusor. Professor Ifinedo lived in Canada, I had never met him in my whole life and to make matters worse, I had no hard copy documented evidence, so it was difficult to anyone to belief my life story. But thanks to Professor Princely Ifinedo who wrote the book about Agbor Kingdom, its dynamic people, character, culture, capabilities and their villages. However, I took another 2 years of verification process, after Google enabled me to link up with Professor Ifinedo to make the first telephone contact with my uncle from the Egwarusor Clan of Agbor. Then the long endless wait!
What caused the long wait? I explored. His response was fast and clear.
‘Professor Princely Ifinedo is a very busy man – a distinguished Lecturer and well sort after world class resource who lived in Canada and I who is a human seed thrown into the surface of the Earth to perhaps carry my Family’s Cross and solve the puzzle of destiny! This amongst other factors explains why none of my brothers and sisters knows about this adventure which had ruptured over the past five years. It is beyond imagination about to express how I feel – it’s just an awesome feeling, out of this world’. The flight was a bit bumpy as we dodged past and maneuvered one Rain Cloud after the other. Then the voice of the Pilot from the Cockpit took control of the Air space: “The buckled your seat belt sign is on. The rain cloud means no harm. We shall commence our descent to Asaba Airport in few minutes. I’m in contact with the Terminal and Landing visibility is fine. We expect to land Asaba Airport shortly.’
After the announcement, I asked my new friend Douweny thus: ‘How would you recognize an Uncle you have not met nor seen in the last 33 years’? Said he: “I am so excited to meet all my family members to the extent that I don’t even think of that! My name is my destiny and the Clan will find me and take me to the home to my roots. Google has connected us and changed our lives forever! I feel like Mongo Park – I have conquered the world. Above all, I am inspired to be in Nigeria and look forward to step unto Agbor – the soil and space of my father and ancestors. If this is all I’ve achieved in this life, I am fulfilled – but in reality, life has just begun! My children and grand children will carry on the golden torch of life from generations to generations”
My Google Internet search has further revealed that: “Dr. Princely Ifinedo is an Associate Professor of MIS/Mgt. Science at the Shannon School of Business, Cape Breton University (CBU), Canada. He’s currently teaching Management Science and Information Systems (IS) courses, i.e., Management Information Systems (MIS), Quantitative Methods, Operations Management, and Computers in Business. He received his education in three continents; this international exposure has had a lasting impression on his view of the world. Wherever he’s been, he’s always displayed the same passion and vigor for inspiring and motivating his students. He challenges them to think critically and independently.
He enjoys teaching as much as he does conducting academic research. He’s presented research at various international IS conferences, contributed chapters to 22 books/encyclopedias, published 42 peer-reviewed journal articles, and won 6 Best Conference/Track Paper awards.
Dr. Ifinedo has authored (and co-authored) over 110 publications in reputable publishing outlets. He’s received research funding from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The misery of life further revealed that indeed Douweny and Prof. Princely Ifinedo originated from the same village in Agbor Kingdom and that indeed, their fathers (both: Ifinedo and Egwarusor) were family friends. As an IT Professions and the pioneer of the National Policy for Information Technology Development in Nigeria, I was blown away by the life story of Douweny as a classical example of Digital Inclusiveness for Social-Economic Development and a strategic imperative for Africa and particularly for Nigeria. We landed Asaba safely into the waiting arms and smiles of Douweny’s Uncle from Agbor.
– Uwaje is the Director General of Delta State Innovation Hub (DS-IHUB) in Asaba