Monday, 29 January 2018

My parents informed my philosophy about life, they attended all my concerts

Uduak Daniel (Gospel and Jazz Singer)

Famed gospel and jazz singer Uduak Daniel, who is also an Assistant Director at a federal government agency, is a huge talent in art and sciences. A development practitioner with over 20 years’ experience in development theory and practice, Uduak Daniel is well known for her work in prevention programming, gender and organizational development and research.

But Uduak Daniel is even more known as a pastor, gospel and jazz artiste, with unique prophetic inclinations that makes jaws drop in the church and the marketplace where she is called to. Her ability to speak Ibibio, English and French makes her better wired to perform for corporate, cutting-edge and noble audiences.   
Her "Colours Concert" rings a bell in Abuja and outside the shores of Nigeria. In her words, what I am today is all that I have always dreamt to be.”

Uduak Daniel speaks about her Pan African look, her scientific work and music in this interview with Paul Ukpabio.

How did your early life influence the person that you are today?
I grew up in a home where love was easily expressed and the girl-child esteemed. Even though my parents were disciplinarians, they taught us to be ourselves. We are five children, four ladies and a man, but each of us has our peculiarities. My parents understood and appreciated that. I have adopted that in raising my children, no two people are the same.

We were pretty comfortable and well taken care of. So, when it comes to being principled, I was not only taught but exemplified. There was time for everything. My parents had no favorites; at least not to our knowledge. Oh, my dad treated us like royalty and that boosted my self-esteem. I had a few fears, but I also knew I was safe. How that has helped me today? I am simply happy with who I am. It has informed my philosophy, which is to live fulfilled and die emptied. I do not have to be another person to make an impact. My parents are late, but the ideals and values that they instilled in us live on. This is real impact.

Your educational background?
I attended St. Catherine’s model school, Lagos for my primary education. Next was Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School, Yaba, where I obtained my West African School Certificate (WASC). I studied Biology at University of Calabar Department of Biological Science where I obtained a BSc (Hon.) degree in 1992, PGDM in 1997 and MPh in 2006. In 2011, I enrolled in the Division of Genetics of the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and obtained a PhD in Human Genetics and Genomics in 2015.

Tell us about your journey to being a Ph.D holder!
Like every journey in life, I aspired for it and worked towards it. I had always wanted to do genetics from the time I first saw Dolly the cloned sheep on TV while I was in secondary school, I knew this would be the future path for medicine. It wasn’t easy because it was expensive, but I’m glad I made it through. It’s just life.

We understand that you are in the public service, where do you work?
I work at the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), where I am an Assistant Director.

Can you explain more what human genetics and genomics is about?
Ah! I am going to talk now with the simplicity of a development practitioner. Let me try and explain by painting a picture: a human being is an organism and an organism is made up of trillions of cells. Liken a cell to an avocado pear; in its center is the seed, right? That is how the cell is, it has a core called the nucleus. Inside the nucleus, there are double-stranded structures called the DNA. So back to our avocado pear, what you see inside the seed are X-like DNA, but each stroke of the X is double, so they’re actually four strands. Okay?

These DNA are composed of genes (see where the term genetics come from?). These contain specific set of instructions and information in a coded form. These are called genetic codes and they determine traits - health, development, growth etc. It is the distinctions in these genetic codes and subsequently traits that make every human being unique.

The DNA don’t stay straight in the nucleus, they coil up to form chromosomes. Every human cell inherits two sets of chromosomes inherited from each parent. So I am a woman and I have two X chromosomes from my mum and two X chromosomes from my dad. You have two X chromosomes from your mum and two Y chromosomes from your dad. The Y chromosome is what makes you a man. So human genetics is the study of how inheritance occurs in the human being. Is that okay? Now to human genomics...

The word “genome” is a compound word; it comes from gene and chromosome. Simply put, genome is the entire DNA in the human being or cell. Remember the chromosome is coiled up DNA that is composed of genes? Human genomics is the study of how the genome (all the DNA) is structured and how they function.  I hope you weren’t confused? I tried, didn’t I?

Well this is where the future of medicine is heading, it’s no more generalized medicine but personalized medicine. So much genetics and genomics is doing nowadays. It’s an interesting field.

How have you been able to combine love of the sciences and the arts?
Each has its place and so it’s easy to love both distinctly. I was brought up like I said earlier to objectively assess what I do or where I am at any point in time, so combining has not been difficult at all. I am a scientist and an artiste, period!
It means being fulfilled in what you do and seeing the reward of your labours.

Tell us about your fashion and style! What kind of clothes and accessories do you like wearing most?

I like the Pan African look, so I dress African most of the time. I like to be identified as a Nigerian so I wear Nigerian a lot. I design and I love to wear my designs. My style can be described as simple and sophisticated. I wear fitting accessories, but I really love watches, rings and shoes.

In what ways would you say that fashion is relevant to today’s woman and music? 
It is very relevant. Fashion is a reflection of who you are to a large extent, so today’s women has got to wear age, occasion and time-appropriate clothing. The same applies to music.

Do you see more and more female coming into the music scene here in Nigeria now and in future?
Sure. The field is ripe.

As a successful lady, do you still find time to do lady’s things like going into the kitchen to cook?
Yes I do. I love decorating too.

We know you can sing, but can you dance?
Oh, I can dance very well!

What fashion accessories like necklaces and so on will you not do without?
I can’t do without rings and watches. Sometimes belts too.

What do you value most?

How are you coping with pressure and challenges?
I talk to God, get direction and do as I’m told

As a woman, do you think a woman can combine a career with family life successfully? If yes, in what ways do you think she can do it?
Yes she can. She has to constantly communicate with the family. She also has to learn delegation, supervision and exit skills. She has to take stock of her career demands and objectively deal.

If you were not what you are now, what else would you have loved to be?
I’m all I dreamt I would be that is, a wife, mother, minister, musician, author, public speaker and researcher. I already have so much on my hands.

Your beauty secret
I eat healthy foods, exercise, praying and try to stay away from stress.

For bookings? Contact: Tel: +234 8037958237, +2348067396996, +2348097441029

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