By Patrick Dele Cole
THE other day, Dr. Koyi Ugboma celebrated his 70th birthday. He is married with children. He was born in Warri, where no one takes last. Warri taught him his street smarts which have kept him in good stead since birth.
His parents wanted him to be a doctor or lawyer or both. He seems to have done both and added business, law and accountancy. In his early life, he studied medicine and nuclear medicine in Hammersmith Hospital, finishing as a physician at the Royal Free Hospital in 1985 and started own practice in 1989. He then read for a postgraduate degree in Corporate Finance Law at the University of West Minister’s Law faculty with a LLM.
He even started a school for corporate business studies, law and corporate finance, even though he was also an accountant. You need to see the meticulous way he looks into finance and how much I pay him for his services!! He is after all, from East of the Niger, endowed naturally with exquisite business acumen.
He has an MBA, and an honours degree in Tonality of Music, as well as a Linguist, speaking Itsekiri, Igbo, Yoruba, Chinese and Portuguese.
Obviously, medicine did not consume all the curiosity in Koyi’s mind. He studied Corporate Finance and Management at the London Business School and at the Open University.
He made constant inquiry into all and everything – acupuncture, golf, music and many other activities. In music, he loved instruments such as the piano and the clarinet, and was a mouth organist in a Jazz club. He still studies music every weekend and has now added the study of Chinese, I think Mandarin. His first musical instrument was the flute, which he still plays.
He lives a private life in a select area of London, but like all English men he has a summer house on the continent where he is a neighbour of late Chief Sankey, a proud owner of the home previously owned by Saudi Royalty – with grounds, gardens, lounges, etc. with appropriate luxury, a truly tremendously fabulous chateau.
In Dr. Ugboma’s waiting room, one is likely to meet Nigerians one has not seen for a long time: ex-politicians, ex-military men, et al, but curiously, I have never heard anyone speak of politics in the waiting room. It is as if in the boiling cauldron of Nigerian politics, all have agreed to a temporary cessation of hostilities, an amnesty while waiting to see the doctor. Otherwise, that place would have been a bedlam. In any case, most of those sitting in the waiting room have more pressing things which brought them there than the viscosity characterising our politics.
Nevertheless, I have toyed with writing a TV drama script entitled: Ugboma’s Waiting Room, developing themes of love, illness, hospitalisation, recovery, etc. It would have been a bestseller. I would, at least, be rich and the good doctor still richer. It would have been a series like Marcus Welby, M.D.
Nonetheless, Dr. Koyi had a fancy ball party at his golf club in North London. All guests wore (as in the film Romeo and Juliet) masks turning the place into a Venetian Shakespearean ballroom. Speeches ribbing Dr. Koyi about all sorts of things in his life were made. These speeches tended to show Dr. Koyi’s human side, showing that he was not some Greek god, but a human being with feet of clay. The ribbing was good natured, not vindictive. How can one be vindictive about a 70-year-old medic, especially if you were still his patient?
He practices music twice a week, learns Mandarin twice a week and once did a course in acupuncture. He is more than your normal physician; he very quickly metamorphosises into your friend: a deceptively easy-going manner which encourages patients to be totally honest and thus reveal all sorts of information which he needs to find the cure for their ailment.
Patients have thousands of stories to tell of how Koyi saved them beyond the call of duty. No matter how serious the case, he is there for you: arranging the ambulance to take the patient to the theatre as he arrives. Many times, the patient would not be prepared for the cost of treatment, but Dr. Koyi make the down payment from his own pocket, which you can repay him later on. Some Nigerians never do, but most do if not timely, but they do, as one patient surprised him by paying his debt a good five years later!
There was a scrumptious dinner at the golf club, followed by fireworks and a lively dance with masks. I guess one could be flirtatious and incognito but there are other distinguishing masks: my tummy for example, is a dead giveaway!
I have often wondered at the automatic reaction of nude women who instantly cover their breasts with one hand and the private parts with the other when a man inadvertently steps into a room where the nude women had been surprised by the male presence. Men also react instinctively in the same way if a woman or women mistakenly enter a room full of naked men. The men immediately cover their genitals with both hands.
Cambridge University is made up of several colleges providing accommodation for students and Fellows. Usually, there is a Fellow’s common room, dining area, gardens and sometimes swimming pool. During one hot summer, several Fellows were sunbathing in their well secluded clearly marked Fellows’ garden. A group of boisterous girls were running and did not see the sign Fellows’ Garden. They pushed open the gate to see several nude teachers (Fellows) sunbathing. The girls shrieked their apologies.
The nude Fellows covered their genitals – all except one who covered his face with the book he was reading. Later on, the other Fellows asked this man what was responsible for his odd behaviour. He replied that he did not think anyone was likely to recognise the Fellows by their genitals – they all are pretty alike – but recognition was more likely if they saw the face: he thought his anonymity was better preserved if the girls did not see his face! So if I wanted anonymity at Koyi’s fancy ball party I had to hide not my face, but my tummy!