Asagba Of Asaba: Footsteps Of An Uncommon King At Juncture Of History

PRAY, which is the more important day in the life of a king: Is it the day of his birth or that of his installation as king? Great question, you will agree. Isn’t that so?
Well, there is no unanimity of response to this crucial question that has dogged mankind for aeons. And the reason is obvious: Those who hold the birthday as the more important in the life of the king say they do so because, without birth, there would be no person to be installed king. For those in the other group, they hold that even after birth, the man would be no king without his installation. And are they not right?
So, the argument continues: Which-between his birthday and the day of his installation-is more important in the life of a king?
Whatever position anyone holds, the fact is that there is one man for whom both days are equally important, hence they both deserve to be celebrated, in one fell swoop. And do you know who he is?
Well, the man in question is no other than black Africa’s first indigenous dean of medicine and royal father of Asaba clan of Delta state, Obi (Prof.) Chike Joseph Edozien.
At 87 years of age, Obi Edozien is, today celebrating not just his birthday in the capital city of Asaba, which is replete with history- positive history at that- but also his 21st year on the throne of his forebears.
Born on July 28, 1925 in Asaba, Prof Edozien is a perfect blend of Asaba tradition and western-style modernism. He attended Christ The King College (CKC) Onitsha, Anambra State from, 1938 to 1941; Higher College, Yaba, Lagos, (1942); Achimota College, Accra, Ghana, (1942 to 1943); and the University College, Dublin, Ireland, from 1944 to 1951.
Following his sterling academic attainments, young Edozien became a lecturer in Clinical Biochemistry at the prestigious University of London Medical School. That was between 1951 and 1952. Later, he returned to Nigeria to teach Clinical Pathology at the then young University College, Ibadan (1952 to 1957).He was Senior Lecturer in Chemical Pathology between 1957 and 1961. In 1961, Edozien became a professor of Chemical Pathology at the university, a position he held till 1966. By the fact of his elevation in 1961, Edozien became the fourth Nigerian to earn that academic title. Today, he is the oldest surviving Nigerian Professor in any discipline.
It is said that nature smiles regularly on those who play by its rules. And so, in 1966, Edozien, now a full fledged professor of Chemical Pathology, became Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University College, Ibadan. Again, this appointment, well deserved in every respect, made Prof Edozien the first black man ever to be Dean of Medicine. He held that position between 1962 and 1966.
Between 1966 and 1967, Prof Edozien was Special Adviser on Higher Education to the Military Governor of the then Mid Western Region of Nigeria. For four years (1967 to 1971), Edozien was Professor of Nutrition at Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge,Massachussetts, USA. He was also Professor and Chairman, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA, for an unbroken 20 years, beginning from 1971. Between 1988 and 1991, he was Chairman, Governing Board, National Institute for Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos. Edozien became Professor Emeritus of the prestigious University of North Carolina in 1991, and has remained so ever since.
However, Prof Edozien is not only all about academics. He is a stoic positive symbol of the traditional institution, and, as Asagba of Asaba, he was, for three years beginning from 1997, Chairman, Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers.
As  a leading icon in the field of medicine and for his sterling leadership, Prof. Edozien has earned the national award of Commander of the Federal Republic  (CFR). He is Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.
And, you know what? Prof.  Edozien is a happy father of well-to – do children by his wife, Modupe, who is a granddaughter of Herbert Macaulay, easily one of Nigeria’s fore-sighted first generation politicians. Can anyone ask for more?
As for the question as to which date is more important to the king (birthday or his day of installation), Prof. Edozien, Asagba of Asaba, has the right answer: Both are equally essential. You seek the evidence? The Asagba was born on July 28, 1925 and installed on July 1, 1991, thus justifying today’s double celebration to mark his birthday and installation.
Afterall, is it not said that the wise urinate on one spot so that it can foam better? But never mind that the drums may not be rolled out, and the horn honked in public celebration. Yes. In deep, quiet prayers, the people (and their well wishers) today celebrate their king and leader, these 21 years, inviting God and Mother Nature to preserve their iconic king for many more years of fruitful guidance in their selfless service.
Asagba, Igadi kaa echi; Ise.