APRIL 9, 2016
Ogbuefi Ikelie blowing his elephant tusk in Iyioji festival. Image: Cyprian Ekwensi/University of Michigan, 1983
A United States academic report for 2015 has suggested that the Igbo of South Eastern Nigeria are the most brilliant black Africa race. According to the report: “a search through the promotional materials of school for a black student – all schools and colleges would always show some black faces in their promotional materials if they have any – reveals that they have had at least one black student, and it was, unsurprisingly, a Nigerian Igbo.”
This is just as two teenage Nigerian high school students, Harold Ekeh and Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, have broken a record of being accepted by eight Ivy League schools in the United States. Ekeh is a 17-year-old senior student at Elmont Memorial High School, Long Island while Uwamanzu- Nna is a high-school student from Long Island, New York.
Schools within the Ivy League are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.
However, the feat, according to two online news portals, NBC News and MSN, revealed that both teenagers are faced with “a big decision to make soon.” For instance, Ekeh was granted admission by 13 universities, including all the eight Ivy League schools.
The NBC News reports that Ekeh is faced with the dilemma of whittling down his college prospects, having applied to 13 colleges, with the hope to “maybe” get into Stony Brook University, about an hour east of his home in Elmont, Long Island.
But, in recent weeks, the cascade of reply letters started pouring in: Harvard. Yes. Yale. Yes. Princeton. Yes. Not only did he get accepted to all of the schools he applied to, those include all eight Ivy League institutions. Speaking with NBC News, Ekeh said: “It’s very, like, stunning.
It’s like getting hit with a brick, honestly. When you see congratulations, you’re like, wow your hard work has paid off, definitely.” The straight-A student has accomplished the rare feat of getting into all of the nation’s Ivy schools, crediting his parents’ work ethic for setting an example and a desire to strive in his adopted homeland after emigrating from Nigeria 10 years ago.
“I find that I’m very over-involved,” Ekeh said, counting advanced placement classes and extracurricular activities, such as science research, school plays and being editor-inchief of his school newspaper, as filling up his time. Ekeh, who scored a 2270 out of 2400 on his SATs, said: “I do have conflicts that maybe I’ll have this programme at the same time as I have another programme and so it’s hard to choose which one to be involved in.
I expected to maybe get into Stony Brook, a couple of other safeties, just based upon the SAT and the GPA, but I was still never certain of anything. There are so many variables taken into consideration in college admissions, so I was never certain of anything at any point.”
Ekeh, one of five brothers, said he wants to study biochemistry and become a neurosurgeon. He is inspired by his grandmother, who began showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s when he was 11. He wants to find a cure. “There are so many researchers working for Alzheimer’s disease right now and many neurogenic disorders that definitely a cure can be found soon,” he said.
As for where he is going to college, he isn’t quite sure, but would like to stay close to family. “I am leaning towards Columbia right now because I’d like to stay in New York City for I guess the rest of my career and work at Mt. Sinai,” Ekeh said, adding that America has given his family a life they might never have had in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Uwamanzu- Nna, who also had found herself in the same situation, told MSN News that she has a big decision to make soon. The Elmont High School valedictorian, who was accepted into all the eight Ivy League schools, also gained admission into Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Uwamanzu-Nna is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, who said her parents instilled in her the value of education. “Though I was born here in America, I visited Nigeria many times. And I’ve seen that my cousins don’t have the same opportunities that I have.
So, definitely, whatever I do, I want to make sure that it has an impact on Nigeria,” she said. She also said her own tenacity and persistence helped shape her into becoming a great student. But as with a lot of students, she did face hardships with some classes.
“I struggled with numerous classes in the past. But I guess what allowed me to be successful, ultimately, in those classes, is my persistence and my tenacity,” she said. Though Uwamanzu- Nna hasn’t decided on which college to attend, having scored a GPA of 101.6, and with a recent invitation to the White House Science Fair, reports indicated that there’s no doubt that she would continue her academic excellence.
The report that suggested the outstanding academic performance of the Igbo revealed that if only environmental factors were responsible for the different Intelligence Quotients (IQs) of different populations, the world may expect to find some countries where Africans had higher IQs than Europeans.
The report cited empirical backup using theories propounded by eminent scholars such as Richard Lynn, a British Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Ulster and Arthur Jensen, who was a professor of educational psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
The report’s findings also revealed that while the fact remains that black immigrants to the U.S have shown achievements that were superior to native black Americans, studies had also shown that it had been a phenomenon studied since the 1970s at the least.
Using Lynn theory, who was also an assistant editor of the controversial journal Mankind Quarterly, who is known for his views on racial, ethnic and national differences in intelligence, the report revealed that: “Failure to find a single country where this is the case points to the presence of a strong genetic factor.”
For Jensen, the report said: “Regression would explain why Black children born to high IQ, wealthy Black parents have test scores two to four points lower than do White children born to low IQ, poor White parents.” The report also stated that at first, it was just the Caribbean blacks who were a subject of this unexpected outcome.
As black Africans kept immigrating into the U.S, they showed even higher levels of achievement than the native blacks. Many scholars theorised on the reasons for these differences, from Thomas Sowell’s proposal that this disproved the validity of discrimination against native blacks as an explanation for their underachievement (Sowell, 1978), to other scholars who suggested that these immigrants were just the most highly driven members of their home countries as evidenced by their willingness to migrate to a foreign country (Butcher, 1990).