Keep your teeth healthy and take care of them and they will return to you a dividend of a perfect life and a blessed life after::
by Teddy (all smiles) Fikre/www.browncondor.com dated: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
We Ethiopians have one commodity that we value more than most. Throughout tears and sadness, in the midst of death and famines, in between suppression and dejection, we Ethiopians somehow always manage to keep a smile on our face. We smile through it all, we are the anti-Irish, we refuse to let anyone rob us of our desta (smile). This is why we were never colonized, this is why we defeated the Italians at Adwa and why we are loved universally. We are a people who smile through it all, through countless embas (tear) we nevertheless refuse to relinquish our God given smile. We are the essence and personification of desta (happiness) because we refuse to let the circumstances of life take away from our souls the ability to smile.
There was once a boy in Ethiopia by the name of Beniam (Beni) Amer who became famous overnight for his God given smile. This boy lived in the country side, but he became famous overnight and instantly became a superstar when one white woman took a picture of his smile. Instantly, the world was captivated by his perfect smile and more than that his perfect teeth even though he never used Colgate or a toothbrush. I say all the time that this world is phantasmal and fantastic if you just let God connect the dots and observe the bigger picture instead of obsessing on the pixels on this masterpiece called life. This is who we are as a people, we have 13 months of sunshine and we have beautiful smiles that we reflect onto the world even when the world is at times not so beautiful—our teeth are part and parcel of our magnificent smiles.
Thus, it is with a smile that I introduce you to a practitioner of smiles and a perfecter of teeth. Meet Doctor Kingsley Achikeh DDS. Dr. Achikeh is a Dentist who resides in Maryland and practices dentistry in Silver Spring off Georgia Ave. His story is like ours, we are all interconnected and interwoven by the tapestry that is the history of immigrants. Dr. Achikeh was born in East Nigeria and grew up there during his formal years. He went on to college and then dental school and graduated top in his class in 1987. This is the ways of people who are born to smile in the face of challenges; instead of backing down from obstacles, they put on their dental masks and claw away at the plaque that is inertia until they get to the teeth of the matter.
After graduating from dental school, Dr. Archikeh went on to work at University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital where he specialized in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery as a house officer. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Archikeh came to America in June 1990 and headed to Virginia Medical Center in Cleveland in January 1993 after completing various National Dental Board exams. He went on to focus on General Practice Residency in both Cleveland Ohio and from there went on to practice medicine at Meharry medical College . Do you see the story of sheer grit and determination that I am weaving of Dr. Archikeh, are you smiling yet and showing all of your teeth?
Dr. Archikeh went back to Case Western Reserve University Hospital of Cleveland as a fellow in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department. He worked there for a couple of years before he decided to take a chance, he flipped a coin and in the teeth of Cleveland’s precipitous economic decline, decided to move to Washington DC and start anew and renew a lease on life. Dr. Archikeh worked at a couple of Dental practices in Washington, DC and Maryland before he started his own practice in downtown Silver Spring in 1997. Since 1997, his private practice has grown by leaps and bounds year over year and business is now thriving as he continues to put smiles on hundreds of people’s faces on a month to month basis. Sink your teeth into this story, I promise it will make you smile. I say that because Dr. Archikeh still has the original staff; 13 years later, he has stayed true and loyal to the very same people that he opened up his practice with. This word loyalty, most preach it but very few live it—Dr. Archiken not only lives it, he drills and caps it.
Lest you think that Dr. Archikeh’s story is all smiles and no tears, let me quickly dissuade you of that thought. He is like all of us, he came to America with nothing and built up everything with doggedness and perseverance. He sank his teeth into a bone called PASSION and decided to lock on like a famished pit bull, I am sure many people told him to give up and do something more practical, but those who see a big vision never give in or give way to those who tell them they should do something else instead of pursuing their dreams. Life might have been easier if Dr. Archikeh decided to take the road more traveled, if he decided to be do the “more practical thing” and lived a conventional life like most of us do. Instead. Dr. Archikeh chose to sacrifice and work hard to attain his goal and through countless nights awake and endless days of studying, he attained what he desired most. He learned to flip a mean burger, made Burger King dust bins his bedroom, and walked 10 miles at the middle of the night because the buses stopped running by the time he got off. Alas, I am fearful that I just inverted your smile. I did not mean to do that, for this is not a sad story, what I just wrote in the last sentence was a prelude to a smile.
From trials to success, that is the essence of Dr. Archikeh, from Burger King to King of Smiles this is the theme of this article. Dr. Archiken has become a distinguished dentist and a magazine called “Distinguished” ran a feature story about his practice (he called it OUR practice which made me smile because I understood when he said OUR that he was not greedy but altruistic) and how they use the latest technology like Intraoral Camera and Digital X-rays. These two things are common now, but Dr. Archikeh was a trail blazer because he was at the forefront of these technological advances while his peers were still stuck in the past. Perfect! This is the essence of visionaries, they take chances and are daring while most would rather sit back and chide visionaries for doing something audacious. There! I just put a smile back on your face and you are now showing all 32 teeth!
Knowing how precious our teeth are to our culture and to our souls, I beseech all Ethiopians and really all human beings to take care of your teeth. Our teeth are a commodity more precious than gold. We can trade stocks and bonds, but we can never get back our teeth once we lose them—our teeth are bonded to our smiles. I tell people all the time only patronize those businesses that care about us and want our business. My friend Joseph Gessese of the Ethiopian Times had an emergency last week with his teeth during Memorial Weekend. He was in pain and in distress so he called on Dr. Archikeh because he could turn to no one else. On a Sunday where most were vacationing at beaches, Dr. Archikeh dropped all plans and drove to his office to fix Joseph’s teeth and alleviate his pain. This is the essence of Hebret, where a Doctor who is not in need of business offers God’s essence of charity to Joseph and did it at a deep discount. Now I am smiling because I realized that I have found a Doctor who is more than a political doctor or a doctor by name—Dr. Archikeh is a doctor by deeds instead of a doctor by titles. Africa can use more doctors of deeds instead of doctors of political parties; the day that happens not another child would die from malnutrition or famines.
This is where your smile will be inverted for a few minutes as I recount to you the story of that boy from Beni Amer who had the perfect smile. An American while traveling through Ethiopia back in the 1960s took saw a boy herder with a beautiful smile. She quickly took a picture of his smile amazed by his perfect teeth. She went on to be wealthy and gained fortunes from the Beni Amer herder’s smile while he remained behind and later on passed away. She gained material wealth from his smile but his story was not sad because he lived his life smiling regardless of his circumstances—the while lady never snapped Beni’s smile once she snapped the camera. She passed away too but she could not take the riches with her, she is forgotten even though she gained her wealth from his smile and gave the Beni Amer herder not a nickle of it. He too passed away, but we remember him and his smile for always as the personification of God’s perfect teeth. Just like Joseph Gessese, your frown and pain has now been reverted back to smiles and desta eko::
Perfect! You now just smiled because you realized in the story I just recounted that our smiles and teeth are more valuable than our money and gold. Keep your teeth healthy and take care of them and they will return to you a dividend of a perfect life and a blessed afterlife. Be greedy and you will reap financial rewards but no one will remember you when you are gone. Dr. Archikeh is the former not the latter, he smiles and gives smiles to people like Joseph and thousands more. For that, he will be remembered for a lifetime as an altruistic businessman and a doctor who practices dentistry with ethics as he smiles as he perfects the smiles of his patients and for an eternity as a good man like Beni Amer. There, you are now smiling—you are now showing all 32 tEEth.