Grandma, this Ph.D. is for you

By: Anselm Anyoha, MD, Ph.D
NEWTOWN, Conn. - Nov. 28, 2023 - PRLog -- Folks believed that I am my grandmother's father – that is, I am a reincarnation of my maternal grandfather. The Igbos of Nigeria, my ancestral tribe, believed that when a person dies old, they can come back to life through infants born in the family lineage. This revelation can only be investigated by a venerable Dibia (soothsayer) in consultations with oracles and gods.

Three events I shared with my grandmother remain ingrained in my consciousness. Forever, I would hold them in remembrance of the love and bonding we shared.

The first and earliest event was when I accompanied her to a Salvation Army religious event in Umukegwu, Akokwa, in Eastern Nigeria.  My job, I think, was to carry her small stool (nwanyi-nodoro-okwu) and place it for her when she was ready to sit down and engage other women in dialogue. That event was so memorable that I can still visualize the overhead canopies assembled in the schoolyard and the scores of people.

As I followed my grandmother and set her stool for her to engage in dialogue, she would introduce me to the women. Pointing at me, she would say, "Okwa nna-m bu ihe-a (Hear me out– this is my father). The women, one after another, would quickly draw me closer to their faces, embrace me, and caress my skinny cheeks with their motherly palms.

The second event that reminds me of our relationship was when my father, Mbamaonyekwu Anyoha, "the lion of his Kinsmen" may your soul rest in peace, brought grandma from the village to come to stay with us in Onitsha, Nigeria. One evening, I happened to join Grandma in the parlor. Then, a boxing match came up on the television. Two men were going at each other mercilessly with their fists while the referee followed them around the ring. I was probably fifteen or sixteen at that time. It is likely that my grandmother was watching me and had sensed my uneasiness watching the fight. Suddenly, my grandmother turned to me and accused the referee of "forcing the young men to beat each other up."

Another memorable encounter with my grandma was in 1979.  I had gone to the village, a quieter place to study. Now and then, my Grandmother would walk over from our old small bungalow to our new one-story house to check on me. On one of her frequent checks, Grandma marveled at my unending pursuit of knowledge and declared, "Nnaa (grandson), ana yi agucha akwukwo agucha (reading and pursuit of academia is an endless mission).

Though Grandma joined our ancestors in 1980, six years before I graduated from medical school, the relationship I shared with her became stronger with each passing year. I often wished I had learned enough in time in medical school to have taken care of her the way only grandsons could.

Having returned to school and earned a Ph.D. at age sixty-two, my grandmother's prophecy has come true. For that, I dedicated my Ph.D. to my grandmother. This one is for you, Grandma, Elizabeth Nwobuaku Munonye-Ashiegbu, Anyoha.

On Call With Dr. Anselm Anyoha (
Source:Anselm Anyoha, MD, Ph.D
Tags:Akokwa, Podcasts by Dr Anyoha, Children relationship with caregivers
Location:Newtown - Connecticut - United States
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Page Updated Last on: Dec 07, 2023

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