Freeman Osonuga was on Friday shortlisted as one of the 30 young elites for Kruger Cowne’s Rising Star Programme and may be the first Nigerian to fly to space.
Osonuga, from Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state, was born to a petty trader and a driver-father, whom he lost as he journeyed through life.
The 30-year-old joins a list of extraordinary global citizens in a bid for a better world.
Speaking about his feat as one who made the shortlist of 30 global change drivers, Osonuga reiterates his belief that nothing is impossible to those who believe.
“If a young person from a poor and disadvantaged background like me can be among the 30 shortlisted finalists and eventually go to space, truly, nothing is Impossible to those that believe,” he said.
“With faith, hope and perseverance, every young person can fulfil their dreams irrespective of colour, tribe, nation, sex, background and ethnicity.”
Osonuga read medicine and surgery at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, Ogun state, Nigeria. True to his professional oath, he “laid his life” as he volunteered – for six months – to help Sierra Leone battle the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in 2014.
Fortunately for him, he did not contract the disease, but helped many Africans walk through that valley of shadow of death called Ebola. This selfless service bagged him a meritorious service award from the Sierra Leonean president, Ernest Koroma.
Osonuga was named WIRED 2015 innovation fellow, an associate fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and a One Young World Ambassador.
He is a 2014 TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year and one of the 2013 Ten Outstanding Young Persons in Nigeria.
Mark Cowne, CEO of Kruger Cowne, the sponsors of the trip, believes Osonoga is an “epitome of hope, leadership and talent, striving to make a difference in the world and provide a voice for those who wish to join the debate on a global scale.
Freeman has the hopes of raising awareness on the impact that global warming is having on the planet by leading discussion on a global scale.
He is the founder and executive director of Heal The World Foundation Nigeria, and he plans to use his adventure as a Rising Star to initiate a global climate care advocacy programme.
“From Ebola suit to space suit, my mission to save the world continues,” Osonuga emphasized.
Stella Felix, 17, is said to be the first Nigeria to have had a space experience, having flown at zero gravity, but did not fly to space.
South Africa is the only African country to have one of her citizens fly to space, but 37 other countries –outside Africa – have had at least one of her own in space.
The official finalists – three of the 30 shortlisted – will be announced on the October 2, 2015. If Osonuga makes the list, he would be the first Nigerian in space.
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