By D. Francis Effiong
“Sometimes, we forget the human being that is affected during decision making.”
Those were Dr. Nneka Gisella’s words to me (paraphrased) as I left for Kaduna sometime ago. Dr. Nneka is for me an epitome of womanhood. She is a Nun of the Roman Catholic Church and an academician per excellence. Dr. Nneka Gisella is also the FIRST AFRICAN WOMAN to Defend a PhD in New Testament Exegesis at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven! The topic was“The Unity of Male and Female in Christ: An Exegetical Study of Gal. 3:28c in Light of Paul’s Theology of Promise.” According to Prof. Dr. Bieringer, Dr. “Gisella’s doctoral defense is a climax of eight years of study in Leuven. Prof. Bieringer described Gisela as a student who was active in international conferences and presented many papers and articles in international journals and series” (cf. codexlovaniensis.blogspot.co.ke/2011/07/first-african-woman-to-defend-phd-in-nt.html?m=1) .
(With Dr. Gisela Nneka Dmmm close to the University of Abuja, gwagwalada campus, Nigeria).
During my studies, I was indeed opportuned to be taught the Greek language for two semesters. I could not have continued the course for another two semesters, if I didn’t perform well or encouraged to do so by her.
In one of my chats with her, she had revealed some of her experiences in Belgium. She said to me, “while in a cab a white man had expressed his utmost shock wondering what a beautiful woman like her was doing in a convent.” Over and over again in our interactions, one cannot, but be awed by the glow radiating from her confidence in the religious institution to which she has been of service for years.
I recall with careful detail how troubled she did feel each time one of her students wasn’t performing well in Greek. Her patience, meticulousness and academic romance was just enough for any dull but willing student to understand Greek. Ironically, she had students like myself, Victor, Megwara, Vicent and Co who travelled between 80% to 96% and wondering at the same time who will ever get 100%. NO ONE had a carry over, although I couldn’t say same for Hebrew. During her studies in Leuven, Dr. Gisela also played the guitar which I was glad to have kept as a gift from her.
(Her book as publised by bloomsbury).
Dr Gisela Nneka is the kind that makes us consider certain perspectives as we all try to practice our science, our creed, our wars, norms, dogmas, culture, etc. For it is not enough to dream about something if the perspective of the human being before you – the child, the soldier, the pregnant woman, the ex-convict, your parents, etc – is not also considered. This is what it means to say someone is humane. There are of course, few human beings who put perspective into their practice; there are also few who are humane like Dr. Gisela N. Uzukwu, Dmmm and I am proud to have met her.