This is a simple story of success, Naija pride and…that name, ‘JOHN’. Ok, quite a worn out name I know, every school textbook uses John in most of their examples. I know, you call a person up and you say ‘Hi, my name is John,’ and the guy goes, ‘Which of the Johns?’ (I hear that like every day and boy! Do I feel like rechristening!!!)
Well, statistics (from my head whilst lying on my bed and watching Skyfall) shows that 3 out of every 5 males is a John(and for your own good, never reference this statisTRICKS anywhere).
Let me hastily bust a myth or two here. Firstly, that ‘a lizard in Nigeria can never become a crocodile in Europe’, that ‘Oyibo sabi pass us’, that ‘Nigeria jaga jaga and that there is absolutely no hope for us’…just to bust but a few.
In the last 3 weeks, 3 guys who go by the name ‘JOHN’ have amazed me with their incredible, mouth-watering achievements.
JOHN Chukwudi Uzoewulu, is of Igbo extraction, from Anambra state, Nigeria. He obtained his first degree in Environmental Engineering from the ‘University Of Port Harcourt’. This John is a hunk, a handsome, well-built guy. As a defender, John was always a nightmare for attackers that came up against him when we used to play football in ALUU (yes Aluu).
After graduation, John left for the UK to further his studies in Subsea Engineering at the Strathclyde University, Scotland. A little background would be apt. During his days in UNIPORT, John was your iconic ‘jonser’. He played football weekly, watched Arsenal matches religiously and despite being a ‘Gunner’ himself, he would invest precious hours arguing passionately about how Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are doomed for relegation and that was about it! I don’t think I ever saw him with a book; eventually our Mr. Macho left UNIPORT with a 2:2. Of course that wasn’t anything spectacular and going to the UK to school wasn’t even going to make the Fox news headlines either, in a country where just about everybody has gone to the UK to school.
Well, the gist here is that this week, John Chukwudi Uzoewulu a.ka. Harp Jvb finished his Masters programme with a distinction!!! One of the very best in his class!!!
Next is JOHN Murray-Bruce, just 23 years of age, he hails from Nembe, Bayelsa state. After his Secondary education in Port Harcourt, John left for the UK to begin his first degree right? Wrong! John actually combined both his first degree and Masters in Elect-Elect in one fell swoop and for 4 years, John laboured. On the 24th of October 2012, John Murray-Bruce graduated from the Imperial College London with, wait for it…distinctions in both degrees, emerging as the Best graduating student!!! And while the dust of his achievements has yet to settle, John has resumed classes for his PhD at just 23!!!(At 23 I was still battling to obtain my first and only degree so far.)
I have been overwhelmed with joy and pride since I learnt of the achievements of these great Nigerians. Surely, it is clear to me now that there is nothing terribly wrong with us, we only live in the midst of a terribly corrupt system that can sometimes deaden our creative abilities and frustrate our aspirations. To be honest our system would have made Einstein look like a dummy.
Think about the numerous ‘would have beens’ littered across our landscape; students, professionals, sportsmen and women, scientists etc, who would have shattered records had they been exposed to an enabling environment. Well, that is not to say that achieving a feat in Naija is impossible; it is indeed possible but requires unwarranted effort. It’s even worse if you have nothing upstairs, come to think of it, how do dummies survive in Naija?
Our JOHNs are Naija bred to the core. Jvb is a Rumuigbo, Port Harcourt boy that seems to love pidgin English more than any other language. John Murray-Bruce is another Port Harcourt boy raised in Rumuokwuta, Ikwerre road. The duo has proven that we are just fine, that there is nothing wrong with our brains and that we can compete with the rest of the world if the environment is favourable and the facilities are accessible.
Jvb had this to say: ‘It’s all about the lecturing guy; the Lecturers are willing to teach you till you understand…they care about each student…guy, dem no fit pass 40 for one class…their way of life just different from our own, stress free life man.’
And that seals it! That is how 2 ‘Lizards’ became alligators in Strathclyde University and Imperial College respectively; a mélange of sheer determination and a compelling environment.
The third JOHN is eeer, eeem……ME! What did I achieve? NOTHING, I wrote about the other 2 JOHNS, isn’t that enough achievement?
But seriously I’ve achieved quite a lot; I just can’t blow my own trumpet here because really, I play the guitar and not the trumpet, so I can’t even blow one.
Congrats to Messrs. John Uzoewulu and (soon to be) Dr. John Murray-Bruce. Keep doing Africa proud!!!