Dateline – Umuchukwu –
Orumba South Local Government Area
Anambra State, Nigeria
What was once- a serene, sedate, agricultural rural community is steadily embracing modernity and being turned into a thriving urban town – thanks largely to the largess of one man – Dr. Godwin Maduka. This Las Vegas based Medical Doctor and Philanthropist, who owns 5 multi specialty hospitals in the Las Vegas Nevada basin, seeing the level of poverty in his hometown, embarked on a rescue mission – sponsoring fellow indigenes to secondary and tertiary institutions, giving millions of naira in free business grants to townsmen, building over 50 modern homes for the poor, widows and the homeless, building a church, residence for the parish priest, a monastery, a police station/police barracks and the State Anti Robbery Squad Divisional headquarters. Other projects he built in Umuchukwu include the town hall, a filling Station, a magistrate court, a recently completed high court and his flagship construction – a 15 floor multiplex planned to house offices and the medical college of the Anambra State University College of Medical Sciences.
Dr. Maduka’s true life story looks like a script from a fairy tale. Born into excruciating poverty, his father was a traditional healer and mom was a subsistence farmer. The young Maduka family basically lived from hand to mouth by the mercies of God. He however was a very brilliant student who had to harvest palm nuts and tap palm tree to pay his primary and secondary school fees. Fortune smiled on him when a relation in America sent him forms to apply to come to America to study. His very intelligent mind kicked in – he studied Chemistry in his first degree , studied Pharmacy at Mercer University then went on to University of Tennessee Medical School and did his Graduate Medical Training in Anesthesiology at Harvard
In an interview with Dr. Maduka’s friend and mentor HRH Igwe Emmanuel Onyeneke, Igwe Ezejiofor II of Ekwulobia, he went down the memory lane and said Umuchukwu was in the backwaters of development, with no roads, no pipe borne water, no schools, no church buildings, no police stations, no gas stations, poverty ridden, even as recently as the early 1990s, but everything changed when Dr.Maduka brought back the blessings on his life in America back to his home town.
Life and Times took this fact finding mission to confirm all we have heard about the developments in Umuchukwu and in the following interview with Hon. Chike Nweke, Publisher/CEO of Life & Times Media Group, Dr. Maduka talks about his life and what motivates him to give so much..
1. Q: Who is Dr. Godwin Maduka?
A : This is the first time someone has ever asked me who I am, and maybe today while I’m trying to tell you who I am I will discover who I am myself. Well I will try and keep it very simple. I guess to explain who I am is to go by what I believe in. Number one, I have the fear of God. That makes me who I am. I also believe that I have been blessed from childhood. So the majority of being who I am, the person I am, whether it’s my education, my business, my children and family is my belief in God’s supernatural powers and blessing.
As I’m studying who I am, I know who I am not. I don’t believe in seeing anybody suffer while I watch without trying to help. I know what it feels like to suffer; I do not even want to see my enemies suffer. I won’t cause suffering for anybody. I believe that happiness sometimes comes from the goodness we show to others. If you do something good for someone, it will make them happy and also give you happiness. I also believe that we are all created equal. However God chooses to give talent or money or other attributes to whom he pleases.
I am someone who believes in eternal life and want to be accountable to my maker when I get to heaven. I am someone who also likes to have fun with people. I like people around me. I think that by myself I might be a little bit boring. I also don’t like confrontations, however if confronted, I can push back. The people I don’t like on earth are negative and evil people who go after someone who have not wronged them. I am the guy that believes that nobody should be discriminated against because of gender, race, religious background, age etc.
I also believe that success comes from hard work. You also have to have faith.
2. Tell us a little bit about your growing up years and early education in Umuchukwu?
My formative years were very exciting and very interesting. My parents were very responsible and determined to make us very responsible and productive adults. Period. That’s why it is very important that we make our children become responsible. When we leave them alone they won’t know how to handle things. If you start teaching a child the secret of success, time to play, time to relax etc. they grow up and become responsible. If you teach a child early enough to learn to take responsibility it becomes engrained in their brain. So from my earliest childhood in it was then engrained in us that hard work is the only way to success and we have to take responsibility for our actions. There were nine of us. Our parents loved one another, two strong parents, but complimented each other. Some of us were born before the war of 1966. But growing up in those days, we had one love, a community of people that work directly with each other. The people actually can see you doing something wrong and they will correct you. Parents will not say, “How dare you talk to my child” if you correct their child. The community raised the child. I had a wonderful childhood. I remember as a child doing masquerades, dancing to the rhythms of the talking drums. I remember dancing in the moonlight, playing moonlight games. My childhood was one of fetching water from the village stream, one of going to the farm, planting yam and cassava and waiting for a bountiful harvest. One of climbing the palm tree to harvest nuts for food or to sell for school fees or the next meal. One of going to the stream to fetch water to cook and eat before going to school. Looking back now, it was bare existence, but back then we never felt that we were poor. We were content with what we had and we were happy. We were enamored to devout Catholicism in those years, praying our rosary, praying to Virgin Mary all the time. Those were years of being in the choir, one of going to Bible Studies, one of adoring the Reverend Fathers. The curious thing was that my parents were not Christians. Yet they fully encouraged us to embrace the faith. I still don’t understand it, our parents, made sure we go to church every Sunday, yet they don’t go. I asked my Mom to become a Christian and she only agreed to do that when I stayed 12 years in America without coming home. As a result she went to church just so I can come home and she became a devout Christian.
Growing up in the village was a lot of hard work too. We struggled for money, for what to eat and for school fees. My early years were even tough. Though it was beautiful, I had so many mishaps that I am not shouldn’t be alive today. Due to the fact that we always had very marginal income I became a man before I was a child. Can you imagine your child at 13 years old climbing a tree that is about 50 feet from the ground to get the palm nuts and make oil out of it? That is how we sustained ourselves to pay our school fees to stay in school. With marginal income my father would bring from the native doctor business and the work that my mother would get from the little farming we do, they were able to send off all their children to school. They were able to send all their children to school but we the children will have to contribute too. The unfortunate thing in my childhood that I don’t envy, I fell from the palm tree seven times to the point of being disfigured. As a child I was placed in risky and harmful situations just to survive. At that time I did not think it was anything, it was all I knew. The only time I knew something was wrong was when I was secondary school with my oldest brother that is dead now. My oldest brother and I went to the hospital back then and found out I had spinal concussion from all the multiple injuries sustained from falling from the palm trees. I was actually meant to be 6 foot 4, but I am close to 5’8, 5’9 because I had a spinal compression. So, you see I lived by the mercy of God. My body is one of a miracle. Even my mere existence is a miracle. The last fall I had my head was sandwiched between two sharp objects. So even then, and all the time God is sending his angels to guide me. Because God had predestined what He wanted me to be, he prevented my head from being crushed by those sharp objects back then as a 13 year old young teenager!
3. Q -You really put it together. Your personality comes through as a very positive and forward thinking person. You have so much interest in appreciating God, and you believe in humanity, and your love for humanity shows clearly as one who believes in lending a helping hand where you have the opportunity. I know this is driven by your love for your creator God. Now, you studied pharmacy and later on studied medicine. What was your driving force in getting yourself this together and launch yourself into where you are today.
A- I grew up in an agricultural rural community with my parents. I saw my parents work hard. My mom worked hard as a petty trader, farmer and home maker. My father was a native doctor, a very good one. I saw him relieve a lot of pain from people. I saw him give hope to women with infertility. I saw him treat the people with dignity. I saw him as a happy man. In those days 80% of the men in my village in my time were native doctors. They go all over Eastern Nigeria to practice their trade. There were over 2,000 native doctors, they call them “Dibia” . There were also those that engage in evil and voodoo magic. The good “Dibia” make diagnosis and treats sick people and give them hope. What I have become today was inspired from those experiences from childhood. This is not to make it sound good, but that is where it all started.
My father’s profession as a Native Doctor was my first motivation to become a Doctor and Pharmacist. I wanted to know the composition of all those herbs my father will give to his patients and how the medicines worked. While in school in Nigeria, I concentrated on excelling in the Sciences to fulfill my dream of becoming a Doctor and following in my father’s footsteps. However I had nobody to sponsor my education to train as a doctor in Nigeria. One of my relations shared an opportunity to study in America and I took advantage of it and decided to immigrate to America to study. My younger brother and another relative came up with the money I needed to travel to the US. When I got here, I studied very hard, took extra classes and graduated in a year and a half, summa cum laude class of 88. That was the starting point of this goal of striving to reach to the top. At that point I knew that I still believed in living that childhood desire. God has being merciful to me in actually letting me live out my childhood dreams and desires. I studied Chemistry in my first degree believing like we all do then in Nigeria that a Chemist is equip to administer medication. I found out in America that it was a misconception, that a Chemist is just a Scientist and that you have to be a Pharmacist to administer medications.
4. Q You studied Pharmacy @ Mercer then went on to University of Tennessee Medical School and Graduate Medical Training at Harvard. What propelled you to combining pharmacy and medicine as career choices?
A. After I graduated as a chemist I went to Pharmacy School, and obtained a doctorate degree in pharmacy. Not content in being a Pharmacist I proceeded to Medical school, to start the next phase of my journey. When I obtained my medical degree it was time to figure out what profession I wanted to practice chemistry, pharmacy, or medicine. For a little poor boy from a rural African village it seemed like I had come a long way, but I was still not satisfied. I applied and got accepted to Harvard to train as an anesthesiologist in the graduate school. Being accepted into Harvard and graduating from there as an anesthesiologist just proved to me that there is an omnipotent God, a God of impossibilities…
The Harvard program was tough and challenging, but God saw me through. I came out from Harvard and worked for one and half years with other folks before establishing my own practice -The Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Center, of which we have four locations in the Las Vegas Area with a fifth one under construction. We have also just been rated the top #1 Pain Management in the nation by the American Pain Management Institute.
5. Q-You are also an adjunct clinical professor @ Touro University school of Osteopathic medicine. How do you find time from your hectic practice to teach?
A-I have always loved the academia and being an adjunct professor at Touro University school of Osteopathic medicine is my way of fulfilling that dream of being in the academia and giving back to the community. I also use it as a way of impacting on the up and coming student doctors.
6. Q- You have built over 50 homes, schools, a civic center etc. in your home town of Umuchukwu in Orumba South Local Government Area and helped several other communities. Just last weekend you donated $100,000 to Mbano women to renovate schools in Mbano. What propels you to give so much?
A-The reason for my philanthropy is giving back and thanking God for all he has blessed me with. I believe that it is from God that all blessings flow and I cannot possibly out give him. I do that with the overwhelming conviction and belief that everything that you do, whatever you are, came from God himself. So you see if you believe that, when you give someone $100,000.00 it doesn’t bother you. I also believe that it is what you do when you are still alive that matters. So that is the reason why I went home to make a little change in my home town Umuchukwu. I left for America in the 1980s and came back in the 1990s and the community was still where it was. Most of the people were still poor subsistent farmers. So many people were very poor, the sickness was abundant. I resolved with that I will help the community grow and develop with the blessings that God has poured into my life. That is how we started sending children to school, secondary schools and the Universities to train as lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, engineers, school teachers etc. We also started a micro finance scheme to give free grants to people to start a vocation or a trade. Several people came to me to complain that they did not have a decent roof over their heads, there were several thatched huts in the town and we started helping people who did not have homes. We built several homes and gave to people. We also built a monastery for the Mother of Peace Congregation a United States based Catholic congregation. We also helped the community build a catholic church, residence for the parish priest, a police station/police barracks and the State Anti-Robbery Squad Divisional headquarters. Other projects include the town hall, a filling Station, a magistrate court and we are constructing a 15 floor multiplex planned to house Offices and the Medical College of the Anambra State University College of Medical Sciences.
I attribute all these, not to my own power but to the goodness of the Almighty God. I want to thank and acknowledge my brothers especially Barrister Kenneth Maduka and Dr. Kingsley Maduka who were on ground in Umuchukwu supervising most of the construction. I want to also acknowledge Arc. Nnaemeka Okpara who designed most of these projects. I cannot forget the contributions of my late uncle, Igwe Michael N. Ukaegbu who is the founding father of Umuchukwu and created the enabling environment for all these development. I want to give back all the praise to God who made all these possible.
7. Q-There has been some past controversy regarding the change of name of your home town to Umuchukwu. Please address this issue and your role in the name change?
A-Like I told you earlier, a lot of my kinsmen were herbalists or native doctors. There were two categories of them. Those like my father who used their knowledge of herbs to help people with ailments- infertility, malaria, all kind of diseases to get well. There were however the other category of evil “dibia” witch doctors and voodoo men who did terrible things like burying 16 year old virgins alive to harvest their spirits for evil deeds. There was so much evil in the town because of all these evil deities that there was no progress and the people remained poor and in darkness. Development eluded us. We had no motor-able roads, no town hall, no church parish nothing but we had grooves for the deities in abundance. In fact the name Nkerehi- was linked to fetish and deity worship. The people of the town felt they had had enough when worshippers of these deities wanted to resist all development coming into the town like constructing of the town hall and the Catholic church because they claimed the land upon which they will be built belonged to the deity. That was why a majority of the town decided they had had enough and destroyed all the deities and had a referendum to change the name of the town from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu- which means- Children of God. This referendum was organized by the state Government under Governor Peter Obi and an overwhelming majority of about 90% of the town voted for the name change which was then gazette as law by the State Government. Subsequent challenges by those opposed to this in courts of law have been defeated and the name change as approved by the overwhelming majority of the town stands.
The town has also experienced so much positive growth and development since the name change.
8. Q- What propels your drive for excellence and achievement?
A- To be the best in what I do and to live a positive name and mark for posterity.
9. Q- Tell us a little about your family and how supportive is your wife to all that you do
I have a wonderful, beautiful and supportive wife Stella and we are blessed with four adorable children.
10. Q- What is next for Dr. Maduka?
I will go where God leads me. I will not go before him, but wait upon his divine guidance.
11. Q.- What are your hopes and dreams for Anambra state and Nigeria.
I dream of an Anambra State and Nigeria that is more prosperous, where people live in abundance and plenty, where the dividends of development will reach every home and every citizen.
12. Q- What advise will you give to a new African immigrant on succeeding in America? When your work is done, how will you like Dr. Maduka, the Lion of Africa to be remembered?
A- My advice to a new immigrant in America especially those coming from Africa is to follow your dream and not be deterred by whatever initial challenges that you face.
When my work is done I will love to be remembered as a lover of God who did his utmost best to help humanity.
Click on link below to view the blessings on Dr. Maduka’s life & how he has lifted up his community..
Yes… I do remember… i once passed by this building when I was in holiday in Nigeria.. it is great! May God bless him.. there is nothing better than to save and protect lives.
A heart of gold you’ve got there Dr.! Keep it up. The blessings will keep flowing.
Good work Dr
He is truly a blessing to this generation..
Good job- he is a true catalyst in his generation
Very good example of being blessed with more doings to uplift the masses. Bravo Doc for setting a GREAT example!
God bless Dr G Maduka and the entire Maduka family. I met one of the Madukas at Rubby Hall clinic, India in November 2011 on medical treatment. They are God’s sent family to help mankind. Meeting me in India for the first time, he accommodated me free for two weeks in his rented flat for the medical purpose when both of us were discharged from the hospital. I can’t forget that favour. May God continue to bless you Sir.
Dr. Godwin , God has won in your life, your family and your town as well as the world. You have truly served God and May he in his infinite mercy continue to be your rod and your shield. Thanks for inspring my faith in God that all the blessings and achievements you had are truly from God. Also that God loves all his children ,but blessed some more as he pleases that is very true according yo the bible. ALSO THANKS FOR GIVING BACK WHAT GOD HAS GIVING TO YOU.This is what he commanded us to do but many have failed to do what you did and still doing. May your story be an educative lesson to all who sees, reads or heard of your charitable works and faith in God Almighy. May you and your family remain blessed in God…Amen. l love reading your life story.
Blessed are those that put God first in all they do…your brother from mbano…. keep it up..Sire