99 Years Old and Still Going Strong

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Mark, Prof. Okwu and Anselm
Professor Austine Okwu celebrates his 99 years birthday on May, 20, 2023

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - s4story -- Amongst friends and family, Prof. Austine Okwu celebrated his 99 years birthday in his house in New Haven, Connecticut. The event began with the usual: prayers, breaking of kola nuts, and libation, parts of the Igbo cultural heritage for formal occasions. Protocols over, we all waited eagerly to hear from him about his longevity and what had kept him going strong these many years.

"I never dreamed I would live this long," the professor sincerely said during his speech. Eating in moderation, healthy lifestyle choices, good genes, and blessings from God, and ancestors, are what he thought had kept him going. Glancing at his wife by his side, he stroked her hand gently and said that having an understanding spouse and healthy family members accounts for his strength to carry on.

What a man needs, said the Nanogenerian is not a submissive wife but an agreeable wife who can challenge his decisions now and then. The audience enjoyed seeing the couple, married for over fifty years, sit side by side. Each told touching and illuminating stories of overcoming family objections and naysayers to get married and be together.

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He recounted his love for the Igbos and how he had served them during the Nigerian-Biafran war (1967-1970).  Attendees held their jaws as he went deep into the challenges Nigeria faces today and the continued marginalization of the Igbos.

Pausing momentarily, he said something---"I often wondered what would happen tomorrow---," a statement, which sent shock waves trembling our spines. We did not know what to make of those words, though with his usual characteristic hand gestures, loud laughs, and jokes, he put everybody simultaneously on edge and at ease.

Throughout the event, people gave testimonies of how the professor had impacted and continues to be a positive influence in their lives.

"You are an Iroko tree, Ike Chukwurah," the President of Igbozue Connecticut USA said to the professor, "and it takes a long time for anyone to access all the resources the Iroko tree possesses. We have a lot more to gain and learn from you."

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"What a treasure he is to the Igbos," concurred Professor Kalu Ogbaa. "He was the person I emulated when I came to New Haven in 1992," Ogbaa continued.

"A man who meant so many things to many people should not go through the journey of being ninety-nine years alone," R. Momah (attorney) prayed. "You walk with God, and you walk with all that have come here, and that will give you strength and peace of mind," he added.

In between speeches people drank wine and ate rice, moimoi, and swallow dipped in Egusi and Vegetable soup. At 10.30 pm, the professor cut the birth cake and we all enjoyed our fair share. Thereafter, he thanked everyone who had attended and wished us a safe trip back home, a long life, and good health. We will be back next year for the big one, we told him.

Books by Dr. Anyoha: Books - Modern Era Pediatrics
Podcasts by Dr. Anyoha: On Call with Dr. Anselm Anyoha (google.com)

Source: Anselm Anyoha MD

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