By Emeka Anike Paul
As our old fable tells, it was Phoenix, the fearless bird, that sprouted from mighty tongues of fire to answer a flock of birds who wanted to know what kept it well and strong in the same fire that consumes every bird it meets.He answered them saying: it is not the fire that kills the birds but the fear in the birds that the fire could kill. A fable though but with realistic references, nevertheless! The can-do spirit of Anambrarians has proven that what doesn’t scare a man can rarely kill him.
No doubt, Nigeria in general is abundantly blessed. Often do we talk about the abundance of these nature’s gifts in the areas of assorted mineral resources and rich, arable land. Sadly, seldom do we celebrate the prowess and ingenuity of the sons and daughters of the land who have successfully inscribed their names in the sand of time through hard work and sheer perseverance.
From as far back as history can remember, even before the creation of the state, the people of Anambra are never short of exceptionally endowed individuals in every sphere of life. For the sake of posterity and to instill a sense of unwavering moral rectitude in generations to come, we are spurred to tell the stories of our hard work in this first of its kind event of 100 Anambra Achievers Celebration.
It was not by chance that people looked upon Anambra state at the moment of birth, at the wee hours of 27th August 1991 and described it as the ‘Light of the Nation’. Let me take a pinch of the moment to emphasize that not a foot of the over 4,844km2 of this state is left out in the nature’s bounty – if it is not natural gas, it will be crude oil or bauxite or ceramic that will complement the awesomeness of the arable land.
It is this arable land that has repeatedly empowered successive governments of Anambra state to effectively execute different agricultural intervention schemes that have significantly reduced Nigerians’ quests for some imported food items such as rice.
Since the wake of this, Anambra has positioned itself as the leading state in rice production with numerous rice mills that are continuously fed with locally produced rice, one of which is the 80,000 metric tons modern mill, located at Omor in Ayamelum LGA.
Interestingly, everything that is given in terms of natural resources is doubled many times over in terms of human ingenuity and resourcefulness. We are talking about men and women who will never come to terms with the hopelessness of any situation but rather maintain a glued fist on any dot of green light to make a mountain of genuine opportunities from a situation that would otherwise be considered hopeless.
If given a chance to lay hands on clay, they turn it to gold. They take pride in their beliefs and subsequent proof that success is never lenient with sufficient startup but sufficient will to attract and retain it. Barely 50 years ago, these erudite scholars, distinguished inventors and notable entrepreneurs were wading in the ashes of the civil war, which destroyed everything we once had except hope, courage, purpose and perseverance.
But like the phoenix, we sprouted from the ashes to remould our world and tell our own stories by ourselves. Yes! We must tell this story because it is by doing so that we will sustain the culture of hard work and reward for value.
In this special period of our time, we look beyond the fortune and fame, even as they are integral parts of reward for hard work, to recognize the true gift from these achievers to posterity.
In the area of science and technology specifically, Anambra has continued to live up to what is expected of it as the Light of the Nation. In this context, light of the continent would be most suitable because all over Africa and beyond, Anambrarians are adding lengths to the last strain of technology. In 1989, emulating bees’ honeycomb construction, Dr. Philips Emeagwali used a-65,000 processors to invent what is today, the world’s fastest computer, performing computations at 3.1 billion calculations per second. There has not been any efficient substitute for his computers in weather forecast and prediction of the possible effects of future global warming.
Born in 1954, before the advent of the war, Emeagwali, like other children of Igbo land, spent part of his teenage years in this our land when it was coloured and scented in the chaka-booms of the war, which led to severe economic drought in the whole of Igbo land. So bad was the situation that Emeagwali’s education was intermittently hampered due to his father’s financial constraints. In the face of these, the can-do spirit of Anambrarians was neither wavered nor slumbered. He is today celebrated all over the world as one of the most famous inventors in America for which he has been honored with numerous awards some of which are Gordon Bell Prize – the Nobel Prize for computation. This is just one out of the numerous examples of our endeavors in distant lands.
At home, we have men and women whose efforts have redefined the narratives of science and technology, not only in Nigeria but Africa as a whole. If someone had predicted 40 years ago that there will be a flow of top-notch, indigenously manufactured cars from this land to make movement hassle-free on the streets of Africa, perhaps, only a few would have seen an iota of possibility in such prediction. But this is exactly the dream that Dr. Innocent Chukwuma has brought to reality. And beyond the initial imagination, Innoson Motors is not limited to the production of cars but also have strong footing in the designing and production of virtually everything that has to do with vehicle, which include heavy-duty trucks, tractors etc… But for a man like Dr. Chukwuma, vehicles are not enough because through his impeccable ingenuity, he has already shown the sign of a new thing to expect – this was through his roles in the fabrication and supply of jet parts to the Nigerian Airforce.
I will conclude this piece by saying that the “Light of the Nation” attribute is neither a praise nor exaggeration but a statement of fact. Let’s therefore, live to preserve and promote it through celebrating the bests of our bests.
By Emeka Anike Paul