AN INSPIRATIONAL NIGERIAN COMMUNITY LEADER: NDUBUEZE JONAS UDEJI: AKAJI OFOR/ONOWU IGBO SOUTH AFRICA
Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji, the AKAJI OFOR/ONOWU IGBO South Africa is the son of a disciplined farmer and transporter, Chief Udeji Ezeude Nwobodo, The EZE UDO IGURUBE OKODO 1 of Nenwe, Enugu State. He is a devoted Christian and a member Catholic Order of Knights of Da Gama, a man of honour and humble beginnings, a business man and community leader of good repute; he is also a Director at Gatedill Projects Pty Ltd. He is happily married to Princess Barrister Adaeze Udeji and blessed with two lovely daughters.
Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji is a man who has defied all odds in South Africa to prove that hard work, dignity, self respect and belief, respect for humanity, perseverance, dedication and prayer are the keys to lasting success and peace of mind. He acknowledges that growing up in Nigeria is quite unique, interesting and totally different from what is obtainable in South Africa, because back in Nigeria, “you don’t have just one parent, every adult around you is a parent. They admonish, teach and force you to do the right things. They ensure one grows up as resourceful that will be useful as an individual and to the community at large”.
Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji came to South Africa in May, 2000 on the advice of his neighbour in Nigeria based on the fact that he was told that opportunities and employment abound in South Africa. He was faced with different situations on arrival in South Africa. The journey to success was not an easy road for Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji, but he was focused, determined, dedicated and he believed in the power of prayers. The negative and difficult experience left him no choice but to start hawking cigarettes and sleeping in night- clubs on the streets of Johannesburg because he refused to compromise his morals by engaging in drugs and fraudulent activities on the advice of some people.
He lived without food on the first two days of his arrival in South Africa because he had no single cent on him despite the fact that the cheapest meal of pap and steak cost only R5 at that time. His first meal came on the third day when he was given R10 by a man who he had met a day before. At that time, R10 ten was like millions to him. That single gesture made him travel all the way to Nigeria for the man’s wedding years later in 2004, in appreciation for the kindness shown to him.
Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji got his breakthrough when he was introduced to a Greek businessman, John Papas by a club owner. John Papas ran pool tables and other amusement machines businesses. He had requested from the club owner that he was looking for a young trustworthy and reliable person that would assist him to cash out on his pool tables and machines. Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji was the lucky man. He served with humility and diligence and from that point on, he began to enjoy God’s blessings and favour in all he did.
Not too long after, he spotted an opening in a shop which was up for sale by a fellow Nigerian on 48, Pretoria Street, Hilbrow in Johannesburg. Luckily for him he had the exact amount that was requested for the sale of the shop. He quickly grabbed the opportunity and turned the shop into a gaming center with 16 pool tables and other amusement machines, the shop was called Nenwe Pride Games Reserve. That shop gave him his breakthrough in life. He was there for 12 years.
Later, he opened Emudoworld Entertainment Centre with 10 pool tables and several amusement machines on 43, Banket Cnr Goldreich, Hillbrow, and then Oha N'eze Games Centre with 21 pool tables and several amusement machines on 85, Claim street cnr Kaptein, Johannesburg. And many other sites leased his machines.
From 2005 to 2009, the pool table manufacturers - "EASI 8" declared Nenwe Pride Games Reserve as the largest operator of pool tables in Gauteng Province. A total of nine Nigerian shop-owners have served as managers at Nenwe Pride Games Reserve, a place where he used to benefit people of his community. He has trained so many Nigerians and assisted them to be where they are today.
Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji’s success was not only limited to the business arena. He also made great impact in the establishment and growth of Igbo community and culture in South Africa. Born into a core traditional Igbo family with discipline and upright morals, he knew for a fact that the business lifestyle of the Igbo people as being traders and businessmen of repute. What he met on ground in South Africa gave him great concerns after he noticed the infighting, dishonesty and negative way of life amongst the Igbo people and within the Nigerian community. He quickly made an informed decision to seek for mandate and authority from the Ohanaeze Leadership in Nigeria through Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Secretary General, Late Annie Odunze, Admin Secretary and Chief Engineer K.C Osakwe to form Ohanaeze South Africa chapter.
After he received their "letter of empowerment", he then wrote to all existing Igbo group formations inviting them for the first meeting at "HEADLINES BAR" in Johannesburg Hotel on the 26th of January 2OO2, delegates from 22 Igbo Community meetings attended and formed Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo South Africa. That decision gave birth to Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo an umbrella body which encompasses every Igbo Associations, sons and daughters of Igbo origin in South Africa with the objectives of mentoring and assisting Igbo’s in setting up genuine businesses, resolving disputes amongst the Igbo people, and facilitation of an Igbo school so that children of Igbo origin born in South Africa will be taught the Igbo language.
The associations till today have played a big role in the life of so many indigenes of Igbo community in South Africa. Ohanaeze have been able to stop kidnapping of Igbo people by some Igbo people and encourage the Igbo people on the areas of trade and investment.
Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji is actively involved in politics both within the Nigerian and South African communities; he is currently a member and Voting District Coordinator of African National Congress (ANC) Elandspark VD in Ward 57, Johannesburg Metropolitan Council, Executive Member Hillbrow Sector Crime Forum and Executive member of Reyapele Business Forum 57.
On the 5th of June, 2011, he received a "CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION" from Zone 11, Johannesburg through the new Executive Mayor of Johannesburg Mpho Parks Tau in recognition of his participation towards a successful Election. He also contested for the portfolio of Public Safety in ward 57 Johannesburg, on 14th April, 2012 in the Ward Committee Elections.
His record sets him apart from many other Nigerians. His active political participation within the Nigerian Community has earned him the following positions: Founding member, Nigeria Union South Africa, Founding member of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Member of Nigerian Achievement Awards South Africa, First Interim Chairman Nigeria Union Gauteng Province and Johannesburg Chapter, Member of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), South Africa Elders' Forum and Patron of Nigerian Arts and Cultural Institute in South Africa.
Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji’s advice to Nigerians in South Africa is that unity should be the number one priority. “We as Nigerians should stop pointing accusing fingers to one another. A Nigerian is a Nigerian no matter where one comes from in Nigeria; we should be our brother’s keeper and be more proactive to issues that affect us as Nigerians. We need to build our community in South Africa and advice our brothers and sisters to act in a positive manner that will uphold the good name of Nigeria and Nigerians”.
The Nigerian Voice Newspaper salutes Ichie Jonas Ndubueze Udeji, the AKAJI OFOR/ONOWU IGBO South Africa for his hard work and positive contributions to the Nigerian community in South Africa. His morals, uprightness and determination in life has made him who he is today. He has proved to us that illegal activity is not an option or way out of poverty and to lasting success.
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