A Nigerian immigrant got admissions to the eight Ivy League Colleges a year after a Ghanaian immigrant scored the same feat – Tola Adenle

It will soon be that time of year with an important rite of passage for many teenage Americans, the high school graduation which is a big ceremony that rivals college graduation and big business.  It is generally an occasion of big celebration and big dollar ticket expenditure for parents with estimations for prom gowns – the formal dresses the young females wear to the graduation dance, averaging almost $2,000.00!

While those most headed to college – university – generally have their acceptance letters ready, a very few with high College Board scores in the SATs, APs, ACTs,  have acceptance letters to colleges of their choices on hand ready for Fall (August/September) admission on hand.

One of such lucky young people is Harold Ekeh, whose family migrated from Nigeria eight years ago.  Harold not only has admission to an Ivy League College which would be the wish of many of his peers all across the United States, his applications to ALL eight Ivy Colleges were granted.  Admission to colleges in the USA are arduous and long processes that involve writing long essays to be submitted along with multiple-page forms that contain several questions on education, extra-curricular activities, and community involvement as well as letters of references from teachers and non-teachers.  Young Mr. Eke must have spent a considerable length of time, perhaps weeks, in just preparing  those forms and getting the reference letters!  Those colleges look for special things, attributes … that they believe stand a kid out of a pack.

The eight institutions described as Ivy League are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.  These are highly selective institutions with reputation for high academic excellence and their graduates are generally highly-sought.

A year ago, Kwesi Enin, a Ghanaian-American kid also got admissions to the eight Ivy League colleges.

Nigerian kids have always performed very well in the States, and as the Spring Season moves into Summer, news of other high achievers that I read or learn about will be documented here as in the past.

Unfortunately, however, what should be joyous news has been increasingly causing tension between native-born African-Americans and naturalized Africans.  Even right on this blog, when I reported the story of Saheela Ibrahim four years ago, there were commentators who believed I was buying into the White stereotype that Africans are better than African-Americans!  The same tension also arose after Kwesi’s achievement last year.

Rather than the wedge that this seems to drive between African immigrants and the African-American communities, these successes should merely serve to swell the rank of African-American kids who are doing well.

While it is true that most African-Americans who are naturalized Americans may be viewed as having an edge because they do not have the burden and challenges of slavery that  kids of native-born African-Americans do, both sides must wake up to the realization that the division helps neither side and it seems to be externally-driven by the dominant White-American society.

Those of us who arrived in the States by the late 60s and early 70s may be more tuned in to the African-American experience than, say, those who came much later but the difference in understanding is not perhaps any less than comparing an African-American born in the ’40s to one born a generation later.  They were born into different circumstances, grew under different circumstances and definitely must see American life differently.

A seeming divide was tried to shove between Obama’s election as not really representing a victory for Black America.

As for “advantages” that African immigrants’ kids may have, I do not think these would go beyond the surface as most of their parents, too, suffer under the same burden to a great extent.  In the end, we are one,  a fact that if digested and accepted stands to help both sides.  We just need to understand and appreciate our differences.

Saheela Ibrahim, whom we met on this blog 4 years ago and is now an Harvard Senior, was recently named as one of the 50 smartest teenagers in the world, a feat that earned her a meeting to The White House to meet President Obama.

In 2011, Saheela had what must have been a pleasurable dilemma of being admitted to  TWELVE respected and prestigious institutions, though not all in the Ivy League (all of which are in the Northeastern part of the US and belong in the same sports conference) among which she had to make a choice.  Her admission list included the MIT and University of Chicago, two top-tier U.S.  institutions.  The link to her story published here is below.

Congratulations to Harold and his parents, and congratulations, too, to Saheela and her parents on being named among kids from USA, Britain, China, Singapore and countries around the world.  These kids make us all proud of our homeland, and our best wishes to them.

I know that raising kids in America is tough but the key to immigrants’ successes – not just Nigerians – is that children do not get as much “freedom” as native born, and kids, from my experience, generally listen more to their parents than those from long lines of American blood line:  Asians, Africans, Latinos, or anybody.  The further the line gets from the origin, the more difficult – it would be (unfortunately) to use the old template from the homelands.  I’ve noticed that the system in America does not seem to permit parents to raise kids in ways that make them want to work that much towards their own success by not allowing kids to be raised in America as in the past and as in other parts of the world.  An Asian-American woma, Amy Chua who wrote a book on how she raised her kid with the same values and work ethics she was raised with was hated by many who called her names and even sent her hate mail.

I think most immigrants are generally very focused on why they are in America; most of their kids also grow up with this same focus and will to succeed.  It is not only in America; it happens everywhere.

Below is the story of Harold, this year’s sensation.



Nigerian Immigrant Has His Pick of All Eight Ivy League Schools – Rebecca McCray/Takepart.com

Harold Ekeh has an exciting choice to make after being accepted to all eight Ivy League universities. The 17-year-old from Long Island, New York, emigrated from Nigeria to the United States with his family eight years ago.

“I am very humbled by this. I see this as not an accomplishment for me, but as an accomplishment for my school, my community,” Ekeh told the local CBS affiliate. “I really see this as my mission to inspire the next generation.”

Ekeh aspires to be a neurosurgeon, according to local news reports, and is apparently leaning toward Yale University. His mom works for a human resources agency, and his dad works for the New York City Police Department.

Ekeh’s great success is a powerful reminder of the dream sought by many who immigrate to the United States.


RELATED: http://emotanafricana.com/2011/05/06/15-year-old-nigerian-girl-picks-harvard-among-many-choices/


SUNDAY, April 5, 2015.  5: 35 a.m. [GMT]

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3 Comments on “A Nigerian immigrant got admissions to the eight Ivy League Colleges a year after a Ghanaian immigrant scored the same feat – Tola Adenle”

  1. folakemiodoaje Says:

    Congratulations to Harold Ekeh and parents, all the very best as Ekeh progresses in life.

    On the African immigrants Vs Africa American ‘fights’ – I always think that is insane. I must say that the shameless ones usually are the African Immigrants – We (African Immigrants) can jubilate and do all sorts to show our progress in our new home. These guys made America liveable for black immigrants.

    David Oyelowo’s participation in Ferguson is inspiring.

    I always imagine what Nigeria would be today if every child is given the right type of education and allowed the natural potential to shine … Oh well.



    • emotan77 Says:

      Thanks very much for your contribution.

      It is true that African immigrants – indeed all immigrants AND – owe a lot to African-Americans and their enslaved ancestors to make America what it is today. In fact, I think whatever antagonism AfrAms display to African immigrants, especially you-know-whos, stem directly from their seeing each new group of immigrant arrivals seemingly displace them in the hierarchy of race-entered America.

      In my opinion, this has always been deliberate. America, like most human settlements, has always first despised newcomers and relegated them to ghettos from where the groups had to fight out of poverty and discrimination before joining the mainstream white population even though vestiges of stereotypes may live on.

      For AfrAms, however, despite tremendous gains, especially in the last 50 years, it’s never been completely easy to say “uhuru” as they see descendants of those who sold their ancestors into slavery come to join them, and they and their kids not only achieve the American Dream but used as examples to deride their “laziness.”

      It is a very unfortunate situation that both sides bought into even though unwittingly neither is really to be blamed but the “fight” has served the dominant White population’s age-old disdain for AfrAms as “lazy” people who do not want to push themselves. The decks stacked again them, esp in rural counties, are so high that no matter how hard many try, they never find themselves rise above poverty and forced low aim.

      The Ferguson, Missouri incidents brought out a Dept of Justice investigation that found – among other systemic injustices against AfrAms – a near-illegality of a state court system that puts blacks through financial wringer of charges, incl. parking in front of their own homes, that raise millions of dollars from already poor such rural counties. And these people have nowhere else to call home.

      African immigrants like such groups all over the world, are there for purely economic reasons, no matter through whatever channels and they seize whatever little opportunities they can get. Some groups have earlier arrivals cushion the stark reality that starting off in a new land bring. One Nigerian group back in the 1970s used to contribute $20.00 each for their new arrivals in the Washington, D.C.area. Somebody I knew was handed over $2,000.00 donation! There were other such safety nets just as Chinese and other immigrant groups help their own.

      The American system seems determined to coopt African immigrants into unwitting participants in the keeping down and stereotyping their fellow African-descended Americans.

      Both sides are fighting the same “war” in a society that finds disproportionately high number of males in jails or jobless than other groups, a situation that seems to have gotten worse since Obama became president. It is high time both sides come out more publicly on the issue and discourse as there is far more to gain from being side by side when you have a common goal. Every immigrant group does it, including White America which, until perhaps, very recently, would ALWAYS cheer for any opponent playing the Williams Sisters no matter where they come from.

      Thanks for getting me off on a topic close to my heart because it is painful to see BLACK AMERICA which has to be made up of descendants of those forcibly removed from the continent hundreds of years ago and the recent arrivals. There is strength in numbers.

      Ekeh and our other kids in America and generally everywhere and their parents deserve accolades as they work under very difficult circumstances.

      The shame that Nigeria’s failure to harness its wealth to improve the lives of her people also shows in what that failure has meant to peoples of African descent everywhere as there is no black nation that can be pointed at as a success story despite tremendous wealth.

      You may wish to check out:


      I will share these by posting as an essay soon.




  1. 43 of 96 Doctor of Pharm. Howard U. 2016 class are Nigerians – Lai Opawoye | emotanafricana.com - May 10, 2016

    […] A Nigerian immigrant got admissions to the eight Ivy League Colleges a year after a Ghanaian immigra… […]


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