This map depicts key points in the early life and education of Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, a researcher at Yale University known for his work on AIDS and more recently on Pfizer's vaccine for the Covid-19 Coronavirus.
Like many, I learned of his contribution from this tweet issued last week by the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria. The tweet is put in the context of Dr. Ogbuagbu's overall career in an article by journalist Haleem Olatunji on TheCable, a Nigerian online journal.
The story illustrates the importance of scientific cooperation in general and of the mobility of scholars across international borders. For many, it provides what might be surprising evidence of the high quality of medical education in a developing country. For me, it is a welcome story of diplomatic professionals doing what they do best: highlighting that which unites us.
I am glad I took a moment to map the places that were mentioned in Olatunji's article. For then it becomes clear that Dr. Obguagbu was raised and educated primarily in Biafra, a region whose attempt to secede from Nigeria was the crux of a civil war and the subject of Half of a Yellow Sun, a novel I have been reading with students in my course Africa: People, Resources, and Development. Reading that novel helps me to understand some of the quite negative replies I found under the aforementioned tweet -- the division in Nigeria is very much alive, a half century after the civil war.
|Approximate boundaries of Biafra within Nigeria: Wikipedia|