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Published on Mar 1, 2012
Jerome Okolo's life story provides a vivid and personal illustration of our tumultuous and rapidly changing epoch. He was born just as Nigeria's Civil War was breaking out. His parent's journey took them from being penniless refugees, to privileged University of Nigeria staff -- classical music, tennis, swimming -- and then to facing the ire of the successive Military Administrations. Sent off to the far North of the country for his college education, he got caught up in the first outbreak of Islamic militant violence, when the Maitatsine sect attacked Nigerian Security forces, an attack that had to be repelled by the Nigerian army. He left Nigeria to study in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, just as that town was the flash-point of the ill-fated Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He travelled on to Ukraine for further studies, just as the world's worst Nuclear disaster takes place at Chernobyl. Traversing East to West and back again, he witnessed the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. He was completing his dissertation in Moscow, when the August 1991 putsch against Gorbachev was launched in Moscow. Returning to Central Asia after completing his studies, he was again caught up in civil war, this time in Tajikistan, and escaped on the last Tu-134 out of Dushanbe. In 1993 Jerome was just re-launching his business career when another violent event, the siege of Parliament by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1993, almost ruined everything
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