Dr. Godwin Maduka is an adjunct Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Management and Surgery from the Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is the Managing Director and founder, Las Vegas Pain Institutes and Medical Centres, the largest and most comprehensive pain-treatment practice group in Nevada, United States of America. As a philanthropist, he has transformed Umuchukwu Community in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State to a modern city, building over 100 houses for widows and poor , primary and secondary schools and a gigantic medical centre in the community. He recently spoke to some journalists in his country home, Umuchukwu when he visited Nigeria for the burial of his elder brother, Onowu Sylvanus Obioma Maduka. Our reporter, DAVID-CHYDDY ELEKE was there
As a philanthropist, what can we attribute to your philanthropy in Umuchukwu community?
Everybody knows that Umuchukwu in about 20 years ago cannot boast of common light or drinking water and all the amenities eluded us. If you
grew up in such abject poverty, you will have no choice but to do something about it. I started about 20 ago years doing something about it with the little money I used to get before I had left over. I used to do something, empowering people in trade, training people in school. I trained over 90 percent of lawyers in this community and a lot of people in higher education. When you see people living in thatched houses in this modern day, and you can do something about it, I think everybody will like to do something about it because nobody will like to live like that. Today, there is no thatched house in Umuchukwu community and most of the families can boast of their children in school. So, the philanthropy is out of necessity. It is not a desire but a necessity. You can’t make money and you come home with a fine car and find out that people around you are suffering and dying. We used to send people to Annunciation Hospital in Enugu because of simple illnesses and that is why I had to build a hospital here and furnished it, we don’t need to be sending them away.
Even if I am not around, they have to be going there for treatment. We didn’t have even elementary school not to talk of secondary school.
So, today we have both because people don’t need to trek miles
away to get basic education. So the things we do here is out of necessity.
What is your motivation in all these?
I think that religious belief has something to do with what we do.
Faith is another reason. If you believe you can do something, you can do that. You could also believe that you are the medium which God Almighty can use to help people because He doesn’t come down here to peoples’ homes.
So, motivation has religious background. Also necessity like I said.
Abject poverty can also influence one to do something good. I was in this town so poor that if you asked me to raise five thousand naira, it would take me a year to do that. Our town Umuchukwu was then known as a town of native doctors and farmers. They didn’t believe much in formal education. My life was that illogical and when that unimaginable chance came, I took it and I was able to pay back to my city.
In the midst of all these efforts to touch people’s lives, do you encounter opposition?
Yes, I do and I am so glad that it happens because it makes me a better man. How can you even be alive and people accuse you of things you never did and it comes from somebody in your house – your next door neighbors.
But truth never dies. No matter how long you try to cover the truth one day it will surface. That is what happened to me. The press at one point thought I was just a monster, but in my religious belief, I said
one day, people will realize what I am. After 20 years of doing this, you
know who I am. I am not trying to impress anybody. Anytime I do one thing out of goodness I feel so good in doing that and I thank my Lord for doing that. I know that I am not perfect but I said to God if they go to the extreme, may God forgive them and forgive me too. So, that is it. You cannot do anything in this life without having an opposition. If it happens, then, something is wrong. But time will tell and time has told that I am okay.
I have a simple solution to complex problem but I thank God Almighty for giving me the excellent education I got from America, having triple professorship, double doctorate degree, Harvard education and then having a successful practice in US which paid off. But, with that, everything won’t be perfect unless I come to the town where I grew up and try to make a change for the future for somebody else because if I am doing well and people are passing through the same hardship I passed through, I don’t think that will make me a human being. So I can say that philanthropy came to me, I didn’t go to it and I was doing it without knowing it is called
philanthropy in the first place.
You are rated very highly in Las Vegas where you practice. What are your secrets and how do they see you in America as a black man who has made it to the top?
Medicine is changing. Medicine is about knowledge. People don’t really care if you are black or Indian. If you have the knowledge to save their lives, they will come to you. Those days of stigmatism and bigmanism is fading away. We have a black president. So, if it did exist before, it is going away. I don’t think I became successful from robbing the bank. I think I became a successful physician by knowing things that will help people in their daily life. So, nobody cares who you are or what colour or accent you speak with or which country you came from. If you will help them with their personal life, their best investment is their health, theywill come to you. So, that speaks for itself. So, things are changing in
America and it is changing fast. Those days of marginalization and
bigotries is going away. In the area of medicine, people don’t care who
you are anymore and that is why I am doing well.
You talked about the dominance of native doctors and farmers in your community, what percentage of Christians do we have in the town now?
It is now almost 100 percent. My father wasn’t a Christian. He was a
native doctor but thank God he wasn’t involved in some bad practices. He did his own way of medicine with laughter, compassion and what we call in medicine cognitive therapy – giving hope. If you come to his house in the
middle of rainy season, he will defy the rain to go to the bush and come
out with roots and herbs – that is Dr. Maduka, the dead one. And he will
dance and laugh with patients to make them feel good and he used to take me as an apprentice. I used to go to people’s house with him where he cured infertility. He cured even mental maladies, malaria, transmitted diseases and all kinds of problems and took interest in what we call pharmacognozy – the study of plant as a way of treatment which is still undeveloped. That is why I read pharmacy and medicine. The pharmacognozy is the area I will
go back in the future, to look at all these herbs and roots that these people used in curing all sorts of ailments before the coming of the modern medicine.
Are you saying that your call to the medical profession is natural?
Well, I think it is like father like son. Most people do emulate their
parents. My father was a gentle giant. He was not a Christian because that was what they knew then and I know he went to heaven. He was the only son of his parents. I used to watch him and emulate him and he knew that one day I will be a successful physician. You can have the best knowledge of medicine but the way you go about doing it might affect folks. It’s not really what you know but how you deliver the message.