Thursday, October 1, 2015

EPN Heroes: Father Godfrey Nzamujo

Father Godfrey Nzamujo

Next in our EPN Heroes series we are featuring Father Godfrey Nzamujo. Father Godfrey is the founder and director of the Songhai Centre, one of Africa's premier technical schools.  He firmly believes that "agriculture can be a weapon of mass construction." 

We see many common themes among our EPN heroes. They see opportunities to make their world a better place and share a passion to make it happen.  Godfrey Nzamujo, known simply as Father Godfrey by his peers, is innovating new ways of wealth creation for Africa's most impoverished and underserved. His contribution to agriculture research, science, and the eradication of poverty aren't just inspiring, there heroic.

Father GODFREY NZAMUJO, is a true renaissance man.  Born in Kano, Nigeria in 1950, he has a B.A. in Modern Philosophy and Mathematics, an M.A. in Theology and a PH.D. in Economic Philosophy. As if that weren't enough, he has an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles and a PH.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California at Irvine.  We're still trying to figure out how many languages he speaks.

The Songhai Centre, Benin

While working as a professor in California in 1984, west and central Africa experienced one of the worst famines in recorded history. Everyday, on every news network, he watched his countrymen literally starve to death. Equally distressing was the foreign response to the crisis. Nation after nation poured into Africa, handing out food and clothes, flooding the economy with aid, but not opportunity. 

"It's good to provide the hungry with food," he said, "but it's far better to provide them with opportunities for self-sustainability. The key to ending poverty is to make the impoverished productive." He committed right then to go back home and reverse the "logic of poverty" at work in Africa. 

When he arrived back home in Nigeria, Father Godfrey met with local government officials to pitch an idea to transform the fight against poverty. He envisioned a place where people would be trained to use technologically advanced, eco-friendly agriculture to launch their own businesses and feed their communities. With visions of petro-dollars dancing in their heads, the Nigerian officials thought agriculture seemed pretty mundane.  They turned him down.  But Father Godfrey was undeterred.  

He traveled to the neighboring country of Benin. After meeting with national officials there, he was given one hectare of land (roughly 2.4 acres) to begin work on the first Songhai Centre. With a staff of seven local high school dropouts, he converted a section of once infertile land into an agricultural oasis. People from all over Benin started flocking to the Songhai Centre to learn agriculture and entrepreneurism from Father Godfrey. 
What once was a wasteland is now a lush field of nutritious greens!

Twenty-five years later there are 13 Songhai Centres in four African nations, each of them equipping agricultural entrepreneurs with the tools and training necessary for economic self-determination. Additionally, the groundbreaking research being done in these facilities is helping the world better understand how farmers can have a symbiotic relationship with mother earth. Father Godfrey's impact on the lives of his pupils, colleagues, and countrymen is immeasurable. His commitment to excellence and service is utterly awe-inspiring, and of course, heroic!  

In our next post we will take a look how Father Godfrey five fold approach towards creating wealth in some of Africa's most economically depressed areas. 

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