Address By His Royal Majesty, Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, Obi Of Onitsha, Agbogidi, At The Convention Of The Association Of Nigerian Physicians In The Americas, New Jersey Chapter, In East Brunswick, New Jersey On Saturday 08
Address By His Royal Majesty, Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, Obi Of Onitsha, Agbogidi, At The Convention Of The Association Of Nigerian Physicians In The Americas, New Jersey Chapter, In East Brunswick, New Jersey On Saturday 08 May 2004.
I thank you all for the opportunity to be here with you today at the banquet of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, New Jersey Chapter. I expected to be at this auspicious event alongside my two elder and most noble colleagues, their majesties, Alhaji Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano and Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Ooni of Ife. It would appear that other exigencies have prevented them from being here physically. They are certainly here with us in spirit and I will tell them about your convention when I get home.
Last August, when the idea of this event was mooted to me, I was in disbelief. Why me, I asked. Although, as Agbogidi, I also hold supreme authority over native doctors, witch doctors, soothsayers, diviners, witches, wizards, etc, among my numerous functions and roles, I seriously doubted that you would have delved that deep into the esoteric nuances of my people in your quest to invite me.
On the other hand, I recall that the Universities of Ibadan and Lagos offered me admission in 1963 to read medicine. I did not take up the offers, which became my greatest claim to fame for many years. Amazingly, the University of Ibadan was to risk a similar offer to my daughter over three decades later. Happily, however, she is one of you today, a qualified medical doctor. With that connection, I steeled myself that I could venture into this hallowed gathering of expertise and professionalism.
But let me say one thing – seeing my daughter go through her training, I do not blame myself for not taking that route in life. As we say back home: ko easy; ba easy; odi tough. I salute you medical practitioners gathered here most sincerely in the trust that you are ever mindful but modest of your significance to Nigeria and the USA.
Indeed, the theme of your event: “A healthier Nigeria in a healthier world: Forging a health bridge between two worlds”, sparked off in me
thoughts about Globalization. This concept means different things to
different people. Whatever the argument for or against it, one should be
mindful of some of its inescapable imperatives and broad tendencies.
Today, for instance, we live in a world of rapid change and obsolescence
driven by innovation in science and technology. Cable broadcasting has
made the world far smaller by relaying news to every corner as it
happens. Business transactions and professional practices are now
routinely carried out on-line. Our daily life is very much technology
driven in more ways than is easily manifest to us.
On the other hand, the same forces of globalization are making people
more aware of their own individuality and origin and, in many cases,
causing ethnic, religious, and regional tensions and conflicts. For
instance, the British Parliament has created the Scottish, Welsh and Irish
Assemblies in recognition of the nationalistic sentiments amongst these
components of the United Kingdom. A week ago, the European Union
admitted ten new member-countries, which are proud to retain their
national identities even as they are subsumed in a larger economic union.
Here in the USA, there is growing respect for the ethnic feelings of the
Hispanics and African-Americans, as for the American Indians.
That brings me to the concept of “Global tribes”, an expression coined
by Joel Kotkin in his book, “Tribes”. The Jews were the first global tribe
centuries ago. Today, we have many others: the Anglo-Americans,
Japanese, Chinese, Indians, etc. These are peoples and nations that have
successfully combined their common origins and shared values with two
critical factors of success in the modern world, namely, geographical
dispersion and a belief in scientific progress. Each is spread all over the
world without loosing their identity as a people.
Today, Nigerians are dispersed over the world in millions. But are we a
global tribe in the manner I have just mentioned? The answer is no. And
for the simple reason that we have tended to unduly focus on the fine
points that differentiate us rather than on our broad similarities and
common heritage. Take our languages, for instance. Our experts in that
field claim that most of them have similar roots and are more similar than
different. Our ancestors intermarried, traded, fought wars, made peace,
treaties and covenants – in effect, they co-existed in mutual respect before
the advent of colonialism and post-colonial politics.
On ascending the throne of my ancestors almost two years ago, I resolved
that “Peace and Reconciliation as basis for Sustainable Development”
would be the defining theme of my era in my domain. That is consonant
with the focus of the nation. That is the humble message I bring to you
So, what do we at home expect of you in the Diaspora? Firstly, you owe
yourselves a duty as individuals to excel in your chosen vocations. You
also have a solemn duty to be exemplary sojourners and citizens of the
Americas, participating lawfully in political, economic, social and
cultural life. By so doing, you will bring pride and glory to Nigeria.
Relate to one another in the Diaspora and to us at home as brothers and
sisters in love, peace and harmony. Enhance the factors that bind you
together in the Americas and minimize the divisive ones. Build your
organization into a formidable force, not only professionally, but also
economically and socially. Let us feel your impact at home in terms of
ideas, suggestions, solutions and best practices. Your collective
professional knowledge should be directed to the eradication of the
peculiar and common health hazards in our environment, such as malaria.
Emulate the Jews, Indians, Filipinos, Chinese, etc, who have globalised
their tribes by establishing distinct localized communities in other parts of
the world without loosing contact with nuclear families at home.
Seriously invest your wealth in Nigeria to avoid the Indians and South
Africans taking over our economy. In recent years, over 5 million
Filipinos overseas remit home some US$ 8 billion per annum to support
their families. Indians remit far more.
Again, do not underestimate your individual and collective worth to the
Americas or to Nigeria. Highly skilled and trained human resources,
including thousands of medical doctors, are probably Nigeria’s most
valuable export to the world, ahead of petroleum. Unfortunately, the
country’s image is often maligned unjustifiably.
On a final note in this brief remark, therefore, I exhort you to do all in
your power to project Nigeria in a more favourable light. Remember, like
the global tribes, that you may make your living anywhere in the world
but there is only one country for you and me: Nigeria.
Protocols ….I thank you for your attention and congratulate you for a
successful banquet/dinner. God bless you all.