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Victor Ehiemua and ThePharmacy: 20 years on, and counting...!
Without a scintilla of a doubt, Victor Ehiemua, a pharmacist, hasbrought professional accolades and personal honor, ethical purposeand good sense for the better interests of the USAfrica community,the new, vibrant and emerging community of Africans and Americans.
Forthose, among other reasons, he will count among the otherdistinguished few: honorees (men and women, Africans and Americans),public service-minded and worthy ambassadors who will, equally, behonored at the USAfrica 9th Anniversary events on May 10, 2002 inHouston, Texas. He's, in many ways, the quintessential communityservices and public relations person. No matter the situation, nomatter the odds or challenges, his trademark, boyish smile exudes aserene personality. He's a blessing, and we thank God for his lifeand mission

Exclusive to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston

For 20 years, this year, he has been the managing pharmacist/ownerof the highly-regarded The Pharmacy in Houston, Texas. He'ssoft-spoken and accomplished in many ways, as a businessman andfamily man. I asked this son of a retired pharmacist "What motivatesyou to come here every day, Victor?" His answer was precise andreflective of his selfless disposition and sense of commitment: to beof service to the community and to give some things back."

Over the years, as he assessed his business and training, he toldUSAfrica The Newspaper and during ourexclusive interview that "it's been fun; it's also's a profession for which I have a passion for. I enjoy doingit."

Victor graduated in 1980 from the School of Pharmacy at theUniversity of Houston. "I was the only Black student in our class atthe first year", he recalls like it was only yesterday. From 1980-82,he worked for pharmacy chain stores/institutions.

With his endurance and growth of his business, I asked him aboutthe overall picture of African community businesses. He notes that"the African community at the beginning was very healthy at the time.As time progressed, we started to have more maturity and healthneeds; we began to have kids, and the children started to go toschools, and all that. Those factors changed the business and overalloutlook of the community."

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When I asked him about the prescription needs of ourcommunity, he pointe to the health issues of "high blood pressure,and diabetes. Similar to what the main American society faces.

He is also quick to point out that generally, Africans are nottaking good care of themselves, healthwise. "The reason may be thatwe prefer to take care of ourselves when we're sick; and we are notgood at preventive care."

On the limitations our community and its adults place on eachother for not having health insurance, he said the "dangers areimmense" but argues "regardless of the modest costs, we should allhave regular health check ups. Some feel they cannot really get thebest healthcare without insurance and paying too much money. But theycan by doing low cost physical/check up."

As we were chatting in his office on Southwest Freeway (offHillcroft), two of her interns were acquainting themselves withcertain issues.

I asked one of them 'Pelu Odufowokan, a certified pharmacy tech,her assessment of the work environment. Remarkably, it was her firstday; she said "it's fantastic, and I've enjoyed, so far."

'Keji Akinde, TSU 5th year Pharmacology student in rotationinternship program added "It's been a nice experience to see and beinvolved in how to run an independent pharmacy."

The Pharmacy has provided internship since 1982 for differentschools of pharmacy and allied health schools for their pharmacytechnicians. Since that time, they get at least 5 interns everyyear.

Mr. Ehiemua is actively supportive of community projects andevents.

His friend and customer John Shanu told me that "Victor is anoutstanding person; he has devoted a lot of time to this community.We need more people like him."

Many Africans and Americans who know him will concur. Ehiemuacautions the same community that "an ounce of prevention is betterthan a pound of cure. We ought to be more active in preventivehealthcare but I do not see a lot of those. And we need to be moreinformed. We should all be more aware and give more education."

When I steered our chat towards the growth of the community aswhole, he weighs with a cautious "we're improving. Although, amajority of the members of the African community get caught up in thefast lane, which have led to many problematic situations. Some wantto be like the Jones and this adds to pressures and bad mistakes, butthey forget we came from a different culture."

He warns that "some of our people are trying to change too fast,some have gone so so far away from our community and culture. Thereare a number of things we need top protect and project asAfricans."

On his life's motto, he cites it as: do unto others as you wouldlike them to do unto you!

On his heroes/mentors, reflecting his abiding faith as achristian, he points to his source of strength: "Jesus Christ is myhero; that's who I look up to and depend on." Dr. Simeon Agbolabori,a pastor and scholar and keynote speaker at the 2002 annual USAfricaPrayer Breakfast (January 26, at the Sugarland/Houston Hilton Hotel)notes that "Victor is a distinguished and ethical businessman and agood, christian role model in our community."

In terms of who he calls "my human hero", Victor points to hisfather (Patrick) who is also a pharmacist. "Since 5 years old I hadalways wished to be like him because I liked the way he treatedpeople." He's 83 years old and his children made him retire in 2000,in Benin City (Edo State) where he managed the Freedom Pharmacy fordecades.

Speaking of Nigeria, does he have any concerns about the issue ofadulterated drugs in the country of almost 120 million people.

He notes the that "the economic situation and survival instincthave made certain people to be extreme in their ways. Somehow,Nigerians have access to and sell adulterated drugs. Governmentshould control distribution a lot better and make it more readilyavailable to the masses, instead of just the few that can affordthem."

The pharmaceutical business is a field that is constantlyundergoing changes, yet Mr. Ehiemua does not consider this a problem."Changes are necessary and they are also good", he says. "Running abusiness is an ungoing challenge. It has been a roller-coaster,really, but that is what makes it interesting." When running abusiness, you have to be able to adjust, hence Ehiemua says that "ifyou cannot adjust, you will not last long. You have to be able tokeep up with changes and developments, both within technology andwithin your particular domain. Pharmacy is a field that is constantlychanging; new products are introduced every day, so to speak, and tobe able to serve your customer, you will have to be on top of all ofthis at all times. Changes in laws and regulations regarding healthand medical insurance are also areas the pharmacist needs to be wellinformed about."

A quick bio-sketch shows that he was born on February 10, 1955, inAbeokuta, Ogun State of Nigeria, to Patrick and Victoria Ehiemua. Heattended school Edo Government College in Benin, and later came tothe U.S.

His professional affiliations include those with the TexasPharmaceutical Association and the Association of NigerianPharmacists, Houston.

He has been married to Janice for 25 years. Victor has 6 children:Romeo, 27 years old (currently working in Houston), Sade (in medicalschool). She's 22 years old; Sheena (19), Sharad (13), Shahira (9)and my pet name for her is princess) and Shamon. He's 3 yearsold.

As we chatted and the mid-morning time calls kept coming in, webegan to conclude the interview. In closing, he shared his sense ofappreciation to "our community for their support. Without thecommunity, as far as the pharmacy is concerned, I wont' be where I amtoday. Ultimately, you give all the glory to God, and I thank God forusing the community to support The Pharmacy."

Without a scintilla of a doubt, Victor Ehiemua has broughtprofessional accolades and personal honor, ethical purpose and goodsense for the better interests of the USAfrica community, the new,vibrant and emerging community of Africans and Americans. For those,among other reasons, he will count among the other distinguished few:honorees (men and women, Africans and Americans), publicservice-minded and worthy ambassadors who will, equally, be honoredat USAfrica's 9th Anniversary events on May 10, 2002 in Houston,Texas.

Mark your calendars to network, rub minds, break bread and toastwith the cream and fine brass of the African and Americancommunities, that's the real good guys like our own Victor Ehiemua.He's a blessing, and we thank God for his life and mission! Stayblessed!!

ChidoNwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award(1997), is Founder and Publisher of (firstAfrican-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published onthe internet), USAfrica The Newspaper, NigeriaCentral.comand TheBlack Business Journal. He also serves as anadviser to the Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa)and appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABCnews affiliates.
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