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How my wife, children and I were attracted to study medicine

Dr Celestine Ugochukwu Chukwunenye is the Chief Medical Director/Chief Consultant, Optimal Specialist Hospital, Surulere, Lagos. His wife and two children also studied medicine.

Dr. Celestine Ugochukwu Chukwunenye


I was born on March 31, 1960, to Chief and Mrs Alphonsus O. Chukwunenye in Ebute Meta, Lagos. My parents are from Izi-Achi in Imo State.

Growing up

The early years were ok until the war broke out in 1967 and we had to return to the village where our standard of living dropped. I remember that we had to fetch water and wood, things that I had not done. Yet, I considered them very interesting.

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My daddy, who had a Standard Six certificate, started life as a shipping clerk at a Greek shipping company. From here he veered off into trading.

When he discovered that it was more lucrative, he stayed put and made it big as he became one of the major distributors of
Nigerian Breweries, Guinness and Coca Cola Company, among others.

He also went into long-distance haulage. The father of the late Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, a notable haulage merchant in those days, I learnt, had a great impact on my father. In those days, unlike now, the Ibo in Lagos belonged to one group. It was there that they met.

My mother

After attaining Standard Three, she got married and came to Lagos. Initially, she was a full-time housewife who assisted her husband in his business. Later, she built a bakery, Christy Country Bakery and for many years a producer of the popular brand of Agege Bread until her old age.


I attended St. Paul’s Primary School, Costain, Lagos, continued at the village and returned to the school after the war to complete my
education. I didn’t like going to school because of the early morning cold bath. I remember crying to school. But I did well. I topped the class in primary six with distinction in the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination.

I proceeded to Baptist Academy, Obanikoro, Lagos. I was there from January 1973 to 1977.

On the first day, I was left in the dormitory. It was a fearful night. I didn’t want to stay because I was amid strangers. I woke up in the morning into a regimented life but gradually I adjusted.

In the end, I emerged as the best graduating student with Grade One, Aggregate Seven.

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Despite this achievement, however, none of us was made a prefect as the school’s management felt we were too rarefied or ‘’too hot to handle’’ as they termed us. But, we called ourselves the great seas we set a record.

For my university education, I was at the then University of Ife (UNIFE), now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) where I studied Medicine. Earlier I had fallen in love with the University of Ibadan (UI). But at OAU, we had beautiful reports about the campus and the great lecturers such as Professor Wole Soyinka. We also had strong academic programmes.

One reason I loved UNIFE then was that it had no age limit in its admissions policy, unlike other universities. Once you are good and you are 14 years old, the university would admit you, unlike other universities that would not admit a student except he is 17 years old.

That criterion really attracted me to Ife. Without being modest, I was one of the university scholars in the six of my seven-year programme. It was later taken over by the Federal Government and put under its scholarship scheme.

I am grateful to God for the achievement. For the young ones, I will advise them to be obedient to their parents, guardians and teachers. They should also listen to their advice. Those things are profitable in life.

For the adults, it is time to make fundamental changes to leave Black Africa in a better state than we met it. Africa and blacks practically have no reckoning in the scheme of things. I feel it is our duty to reverse the trend. By doing this, things would change. It is high time we encouraged oneness of various black people and indeed the world and down play the things we think that divide us.

credit: ALLSCHOOL, Nationonline

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