• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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15 year old Nigerian wins $3500 Black history oratory competition

Black history Chidi Onwuanibe

A Nigerian-American high school student in the United States was announced as the winner of WJZ’s Black history oratory competition.

15-year-old McDonogh first-year student, Chidi Onwuanibe took home the top prize of $3500 in scholarship prize money among hundreds of students from across Maryland after being shortlisted among the 20 finalists who read to a panel of judges at Morgan State University.

“I really feel that I am carrying on a torch…But black history month to me is remembering what the people before you have done,” Onwuanibe said.

For over 30 Years, WJZ has asked Maryland High School Students to speak out on Black History. This year, participants were given the chance to write an essay about quotes from three prominent historical Black figures including Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, and Frederick Douglass.

Onwuanibe chose Frederick Douglass’s quote that said, “Educate your sons and daughters, send them to school and show that besides the cartridge box, the ballot box, and the jury box, you have also the knowledge box.”

In his speech, Onwuanibe acknowledged his Nigerian roots and highlighted education and conflict as motivations for his grandparents, who fought in Nigeria’s civil war, to move to the US.

“I am the grandson of a civil war serviceman. The benefactor of serviceman that challenged societal norms to earn education, and the witness to a judicial system, that never even tried to protect my communities and civil rights.

“My grandparents fought, voted and organized, to earn basic opportunities, but knowledge allowed them to take advantage of those opportunities when they came.

“Even today, thousands fear being kidnapped or killed in my motherland. I am a first-generation Nigerian American and when I visited Nigeria, me and my family were rushed into a tinted SUV by armed guards, because Boko Haram, a militant group that disagrees with the benefits afforded to my ethnic group, had kidnapped 15 students earlier that month,” he said.

Onwuanibe’s scholarship grant takes him closer to his dream of studying computer science at the Naval Academy. According to him, the recognition gives him a sense of pride and responsibility.

In his speech, he said “I am too young to vote I am too young to serve the jury I am too young to join the military but I can fill my knowledge box so that when opportunity arises I will be ready even if that opportunity requires me to bear arms.”