MADUKA: My story as palm wine tapper, holder of 3 professorships
IT is not common to hear of a success story of a young man, who sold palm wine, trekked eight miles regularly to sell palm nuts and ended up being an authority in the field of medicine. Prof Godwin Maduka’s story is an inspiration especially given the fact that he is an accomplished international entrepreneur with a thriving enterprise. The Las Vegas Pain Institute & Medical Centre which he is the CEO and Medical Director is a big employer of labour.
Looking at where he is coming from, one can’t help but marvel at his accomplishments. For instance, Clark County records in the US stated that Maduka bought seven residential property in Nevada for more than $7 million and spent nearly $4 million on the two buildings that house the Las Vegas Pain Institute, where he employed 80 people. That is just one of the many accomplishments of Maduka, who experienced every denial that came with poverty while growing up.
By CHARLES KUMOLU
I was born in Umuchukwu in Orumba Local Government Area. I grew up in the village. I had a good taste of village life and all sorts of denials that go with it. I was not born with a silver spoon. I had been in desperation before. My father died when I was in my last year in secondary school. I used to climb palm trees, to pick palm nuts that will be turned into palm oil.
I would carry the palm nuts on my head and trek eight miles to Umunze to sell. I also engaged in palm wine tapping as a source of livelihood and to support my education. In 1982, I saved enough money to travel to the United States of America. In the US, I began a 16-year tertiary education journey by enrolling in Rust College, Holly Springs Mississippi for a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry.
After graduating in 1984, I proceeded to Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia where I obtained a Doctorate degree in Pharmacy. I earned my Doctor of Medicine in 1993 from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where I also completed an internship.
I completed my residency and post-graduate training at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. After that, I was certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology in 1998. Today, I have three professorships.
My request to God
While growing up as a child I always asked God to use me as a source of light and joy to my people. I have always had this idea that whenever I am blessed by God I will improve the lives of my people by investing in education, places of worship, and social amenities.
Since my childhood in Orumba, we had always travelled to places like Aguata for any kind of government presence. We went as far as that, to participate in things like inter house sports. In those days there was no transportation. We had to go on foot. I saw those hardships and 40 years later, our people are still facing the same hardships in order to live well.
Having lived in the US for nearly 40 years and always going back home on visits, I found out that the same old structures were still the best my people live in. The living conditions of my people sometimes bring tears to my eyes.
I decided to change their situation for the better. I started with basic things like roads and provision of homes for the less privileged, especially the widows. Many were living in thatched houses in deplorable conditions. I also saw the need for my people to be educated instead of being mostly traders and farmers without basic education.
We did not have even a parish, where we worship. We had to go to another town’s parish because Umuchukwu could not afford to build a parish. It was the same with Anglican, Catholic and even non-denominational. I got involved and changed the situation.
My ugly experience
I embarked on philanthropism to save my people from the ugly experience I had while growing up. I grew up in a home where when it rained, it rained more inside than outside.
Wealth would be meaningless if it cannot be used to better the lives of the people around the custodian. The wealthy must provide jobs for the youths, build skills acquisition centres for willing adults, market stalls for men and women for the society to be safe.
Field of medicine
My worth cannot be quantified in terms of numerical value. I don’t look at my life in terms of numbers. I feel that what the almighty God has helped me to do, there is no monetary value to it. I am even bigger than what people think I am.
I am happy when I give someone a car, when I build a house for someone, when I buy a motorbike for a young man, and when I pay school fees for those, who cannot afford education. I have trained so many people that I can’t even remember their names, even in America. I feel am the fortunate and privileged one God is using to be a joy giver to many. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to do these things.
I want to be remembered as the young man who rose from the hinterland in Africa. I look at Kwame Nkrumah and Nnamdi Azikiwe, two pan African heroes, who travelled to the US and got the wherewithal to make their homelands better places.
I keep thanking God who has given me this opportunity to make a change in Nigeria and Africa. I don’t really see what would change in what I am doing now if I take up any political appointment. I do not want to be distracted from doing what I am doing presently, especially in my state.
The politicians can continue doing their work, but the best thing they can do for us is to make it easy for us to assist them. This is just the beginning. I am bringing the excellent education I obtained from the US to Nigeria.
Hunger to change lives
I have this hunger to change the way things are in my immediate community.
That is why I have built a 17-storey medical research centre in Nigeria, about the tallest in Africa. This encourages a lot of experts to come to Africa since they can see something tangible on the ground. I don’t believe people elsewhere in the world are better than Africans.
I also believe that whatever we do in this world is not only to be of benefit to us. We should always look around and see how we can be of benefit to the less privileged people and make our community a better place. That is the ultimate purpose of living. When someone, who does that dies, he will die happy because he is leaving a lasting and beneficial legacy.
The worst and the best
I have seen the worst and the best. I consider my life a fairy tale. I intend to use what we already have on the ground there to partner with international organisations and foundations, to site one of the best citadels of learning in Africa, with a special bias for the sciences and medical education.
First, I have not seen a country like the United States, I thank God Almighty for bringing me here. I am a naturalised American citizen, who was born in Nigeria.
Having had the benefit of both countries, I am also giving back here. I provide employment, I help people get educated here in the US and back home in Nigeria. I have three professorships and teach doctors and medical students alike.
I am an African, and I strongly believe in healthy family life as a father of five. I usually get involved with my children’s activities.
I enjoy playing the role of a father. I always tell my kids that before I started having children, I had been a father to many through mentoring of young people both in the US and in Nigeria. This makes me happy, especially when they take my advice and I look forward to seeing them become better than me. I have immense faith in God. I believe that whatever I ask God that will be beneficial to other people; he will do it for me. I believe we should treat others as we would like to be treated. I spend a lot of time in meditation. My best moment is when I am in the church, especially on Sundays when I take my family to church.