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YOU CAN’T DIFFERENTIATE RICH SUDANESE FROM POOR ONES –RETURNEE

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A footballer, Stephen Chidera, who was one of the Nigerians evacuated from Sudan, shares his experience with GIFT HABIB in this interview

What took you to Sudan?

I am a footballer who tried everything possible to ensure I plied my trade here but all efforts proved futile. I was told about the country and how they love players from Nigeria. They believe we are talented and that is the truth. I went there and it did not take long for me to get a club. I did not only do that but I broke into the first team. I am pleased about my football career in the country. I am a winger that could play both seven and 11 because of my ability to use my two feet.

I added business to my football career because my club is not among the top playing football clubs in the country. Alhilal, Al-Merrikh and one other clubs pay well. My dream was to wear the jersey of Alhilal one day but it is quite unfortunate.

Recently, I focused more on the business than on the football over there. Sudan was favourable to me before the war started. Sudanese do not discriminate and they are a very lovely and accommodating people.

Tell us about your experience at the Sudan-Egypt border.

My experience at the border was crazy. The first four days that we arrived at the border, there was no news about our fate. We were very angry. The Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt, Ambassador Nura Rimi sent his assistant who spoke with the Sudanese immigration. He came again the next day and we held him to spend a night with us at the border to feel what we have been feeling. His assistant later went to the Egypt side of the border and paid for over 400 people’s exit visas. The next day, the ambassador came by himself to sort out things. He made sure that we moved two days after his intervention. Initially, we felt abandoned but the government tried by giving us food.

During the war, a lot of properties were destroyed. Was yours part of such?

By the grace of God, I do not pray so. As of the time we left, my properties were not part of those destroyed. Although, up till now, I have not heard from people there, I hope my properties are safe. Now that I have arrived, I will make some contact because there has not been a telecommunication network for a very long time in Sudan. The network was shut down because of the war. I have just reactivated my Nigeria SIM card. I will keep trying to make calls to the people I have there to give me an idea about my shop/business and whether it was affected or not.

Your people back home, how did they feel when you were trapped in Sudan/Egypt?

The Sudanese communication was shut when the war commenced. Although, we see a signal which was not consistent. I could not communicate with anybody at all. We could not buy bundles or recharge cards either.

We still have a lot of Nigerians in Sudan; do you have friends that could not make it to the border or Port Sudan?

Well, whoever was not evacuated was not interested in coming back. A friend of mine said he had no money to come back. He invested all his money in business during Ramadan, thinking that business will boom for him after Ramadan. Unfortunately, just two days for the business to resume fully, the war started. He planned on coming to Nigeria by this December and that was why he invested the money so that he could have enough when he travels down. He is stuck there. Though he is not in distress.

During the war, were the soldiers nice to you?

The soldiers were very nice. They did not disturb the citizens. I was surprised at their attitude towards us. They are nice people.

If you are to compare Nigeria and Sudan what do you think stands the country out?

We usually have electricity for more than 18 hours every day. One striking thing is that you cannot spot the difference between the rich and the poor there. They eat together and move freely on the streets with their people including us that are not from the country. There are also a lot of business opportunities in the country. If one is not lazy, one can make money there. However, house rents, food, and electricity bills among others are very expensive in the country. A room goes for 100,000 Sudanese pounds per month. I pay 150,000 per month for my shop. I sell according to how the cost of living is. Their currency dropped a little which makes it difficult for businessmen like us

What will you miss in Sudan?

I will miss my business because things are very expensive in Sudan. I will also miss the lovely people. Those people were nice to a fault and their kind acts were why I decided to take my wife along with me.

What are your plans now that you are back in the country?

I came back with my wife. She is pregnant with my first child. Though, I will still return to Sudan once the war ends. I want to continue with my football career to see if I can play for a pro league. I am also planning on opening a business for my wife here. Now that we are back in Nigeria, she will go into business too. She will soon give birth, so I cannot take her back to Sudan even when the war is over.

Will you be putting your football career on hold?

I wish to continue playing. I will call my colleagues here and some coaches that I played under before leaving the country for Sudan to see if could train with them. But if I am permitted to say my wish, I will like to play for a Nigerian club. I would not mind Heartland football club. It had been my childhood dream. I do not mind going through trials at the club to show what I have got. If that can materialise, I will forget going back to Sudan.

Sudanese are generous despite conflict – Student

One of the Nigerians evacuated from Sudan, Mohammed AbdulRahman, tells GIFT HABIB he will go back to the country after the world.

What took you to Sudan?

Sudan is an Arabic country. So, we go to Sudan to learn more Arabic and have experience because when we study in Nigeria, we have less experience in Arabic. I am studying computer science at the International University of Africa. Any student who studies here must speak Arabic and any other course of study.

Tell us about your experience at the Sudan/Egypt border.

When we entered Egypt, we were screened more than seven times. Our passports were screened. We were also screened for illegal possession of items etc. At the border, we were helped by people from Turkey with food, water and medication.

Do you have friends that are Nigerians still in Sudan?

I have many friends, aside from my brothers and sisters. They are still there in Port Sudan and the Walfa border.

What is your advice to your friends who are yet to be airlifted?

I advise them to remain calm. I believe they will arrive in Nigeria soonest.

What will you be doing now that you are in Nigeria?

I pray that the war ends very soon so that we can continue our education. I am at 300 level and I have three more semesters to finish my education in Sudan. Before, I go back to Sudan; I will continue my sewing business and maybe any other possible business.

Will you want to go back to Sudan when the war ends?

If Sudan is safe, I want to go back because the Sudanese are very generous. On our way to the border, some stopped us and gave us water, medicine and some snacks. I want to go back to Sudan to finish my studies.

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Business

THE IGBO CULTURE OF I KPÓPÙ (TAKING SOMEONE OUT)

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The Igbo culture of I kpópù is one such lingo in the Igbo language that cannot be given an easy, direct translation, just as it is somehow complex in its simplicity, for the non-Igbo to understand, replicate, or practice.

One can only contextually approximate an interpretation, like to say it is about ‘taking someone out’, which as a normal English language expression could mean to kill someone. But here, it is directly opposite to the above, to mean or at least suggest, to take someone to another clime, to teach or help him secure a means of livelihood, for a better future.

The Igbo culture of I kpópù is very well different from I gba boyi, which is the popular system where a lad is taken into apprenticeship in a business by an established person he serves for some time, usually going into years, and is thereafter settled with a start-up at the end of the term of his learning. There are usually agreements that are followed, even when nothing is cast in stone.

In I Kpópù, a person, younger or older, simply follows someone, a relative, friend, or just somebody persuaded to assist, to his base, within the country or abroad, to help him ‘find his feet.’ He could take him into his business or give him out to someone else who does the kind of business the young man is interested in. Whatever, he serves as his guardian and mentor hence he oversees everything he does, to ensure he is well and achieves his aspirations.

Most times when people are taken out, it is an epic, destiny-shaping journey. While the benefactor makes everything available within his powers, to make the beneficiary succeed, it is expected of the latter to apply himself fully and with diligence to his hustling. Most times, they are taught trades or skills, or even become boyi (apprentice), depending on many factors, ranging from personal preferences to available opportunities. Of course, the conditions are usually not a bed of roses, of which the indomitable Igbo spirit of can-do, overcomes.

In most cases, whoever is taken out is not expected to pay back as it is usually help just offered to a kinsman, friend, or even a recommended stranger, keen to succeed in life. However, appreciation is usually shown in many ways, like acknowledging the benefactor’s intervention through verbal testimonies, presentation of gifts as well as hosting of such individuals and friends, among others, while also making oneself available as an instrument of help to others. That is why for everyone who takes out someone, someone else had possibly taken him out, just as the last in the chain is expected to take someone out too in the future.

Igbo people, especially the youths, value this Igbo culture of I kpópù a lot. Many lives have been changed through this practice. Today in Igbo land, it is therefore common to rate people, not necessarily by what they have for themselves, but by the number of those they have helped to also become successful. And this is one of the means. So, now the seasons and celebrations are over and people are returning to their bases, many have in tow youngsters who are going to pursue their dreams and destinies across the world. And rest assured by this time next year, many of them would come back successful.

And they would be very much ready to take yet other scores of young men with them, to take their shots at life. This is one of the ways the South East of Nigeria has continued to have the highest per capita income in the country. As such, while it is everyone’s right to hustle, it is expected of every brother to extend that privilege of assistance to a brother, to make his dreams come true.

Written by Wordshot Amaechi Ugwele

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History

LEGENDARY ROCKEFELLERS SHAPERS OF MODERN AMERICAN ECONOMY

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The Rockefeller name has become synonymous with money, symbolized by the richest individual in history, John D. Rockefeller, who left a staggering net worth of $1.4 billion. Yet, beneath this wealth lies a history of tragedy and controversy. Let’s delve into the captivating saga of the legendary Rockefellers, the shapers of the modern American economy.

A Fine Father Figure

Born in 1810, William A. Rockefeller, father to John D. Rockefeller, was a man of meager means. Though he was savvy, his dishonorable business practices and subsequent bad reputation caused the family to struggle financially.

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Without a real trade, William Rockefeller posed as a traveling salesman, pretending to be afflicted by various ailments to sell fake “miracle remedies.” Known as “Devil Bill,” he adopted the alias Dr. William Livingston, supposedly an expert in ear and eye ailments. He duped his wife into hiring a housekeeper, who was secretly his mistress, and they had two illegitimate children while living together.

A Billionaire Is Born

While living in Richford, New York, William and his wife welcomed their son, John D. Rockefeller to the world on July 8, 1839. This was the couples’ second child, as their daughter, Lucy, was born just one year prior. By this time, William was surrounded by a multitude of unfavorable rumors stating that he was a thief, a crook, and a gambler. The family had no choice but to move.

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They moved from place to place, each time having to uproot once again due to William’s scandalous lifestyle. Finally in 1853, when John was 14 years old, the family was able to settle in Strongsville, Ohio so he could attend and graduate from high school. He attended the first free public high school in Cleveland.

An Ambitious Fellow

The second of six children with a father who could not hold down a job, John showed just how ambitious and industrious he was when he became a teenager. After trying his hand at selling fruits and vegetables, he landed his first official job as an assistant bookkeeper for Hewitt & Tuttle at the young age of 16. 

circa 1930:  American oil magnate and philanthropist, John Davidson Rockefeller (1839 - 1937) at work in his study.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Hulton Archive/GettyImages

After four years, John D. Rockefeller saved $2,000 and partnered with Maurice B. Clark to start a commission merchant company specializing in grains, hay, and meat, which made $450,000 in its first year. At age 20, he formed a produce business partnership, earning $250,000, and then entered the oil business by founding Andrews, Clark & Co in 1867.

Perks of Being Rich

During the Civil War, men of all ages were called upon to fight for both the Union and the Confederate Army. Though John D. Rockefeller was a firm-standing abolitionist, he had absolutely no desire to go to the front lines. In an effort to exonerate himself from active duty, he requested an exemption from enlistment, stating that he was the sole provider for his family.

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John D. Rockefeller Jr. chose not to enlist during World War I but actively engaged in a lot of charity. Collaborating with the War Department and organizations like the Red Cross, he provided financial aid and resources for the U.S. military and the war campaign. Furthermore, he supported war bond campaigns and assisted the war-related initiatives of the Rockefeller Foundation, particularly in fields such as public health and medical research. His dedication to the war effort was evident, despite his absence from military service.

Right Place, Right Time

During the Civil War’s final stages, Cleveland was a crucial logistics center. But, because oil production in Pennsylvania was booming, John D. Rockefeller cashed out his produce partnership shares and, in 1863, started an oil refinery near Pittsburgh. Thanks to the oil rush, his refinery quickly became the biggest in the area within just two years.

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John D. Rockefeller recognized the immense potential in the oil industry due to his rapid success. In 1870, he and his partners founded the Standard Oil Company, using $1 million from his Pennsylvania refinery as startup capital. Rockefeller’s talent for efficient operations, combined with a booming economy, led to steady profit growth from the company’s inception. His initial triumph, along with substantial earnings, fueled his ambition to implement a takeover strategy that would later become a contentious and pivotal chapter in history.

Partnerships Alleviate Competition

Within just two years, Standard Oil had expanded significantly, controlling the majority of refineries throughout the Cleveland area. In order to alleviate any potential competition and to control the transport of his oil, John D. Rockefeller knew that he had to forge a partnership with the railroad companies as well as purchase additional pipelines and oil terminals.

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He began purchasing land to prevent rival companies from starting their own private transportation system. In doing so, Standard Oil substantially tightened their grasp on the industry resulting in little to no competition whatsoever.

Scandalous Scheme Leads to a Massacre

In 1871, John D. Rockefeller, along with multiple railroad lines, founded the Southern Improvement Company. In writing, the company’s intention was to alleviate the competitive rate wars that existed between the rail lines and evenly distribute the oil traffic between the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Erie Railroad, and the New York Railroad as well as limit the amount of oil produced.

The construction of the St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Manitoba Railway in Montana Territory in 1887. In 1890 it became the Great Northern Railway. (Photo by © Minnesota Historical Society/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Minnesota Historical Society/GettyImages

In all actuality, the Southern Improvement Company turned out to be a scheme that brought unwanted attention from the government due to the scandalous relationships formed between the railroads and big business, aka John D. Rockefeller. Throughout the company’s existence which only lasted one year, John D. Rockefeller was able to swoop in and purchase 22 of the 26 refineries in Cleveland due to their lack of transportation. These acquisitions would later become known as “The Cleveland Massacre”. 

Keep Your Friends Close, Your Enemies Closer

By 1879, John D. Rockefeller was one of the wealthiest men in the United States and controlled nearly 90% of the country’s refineries. With a goal to control the oil industry throughout the US and the world, his savvy and somewhat questionable tactics at times terrorized his competitors and betrayed his alliances.

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In his early career, John D. Rockefeller teamed up with railroad and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. To benefit both, Rockefeller granted Vanderbilt exclusive shipping rights at a lower rate. However, as Standard Oil surged in growth, Vanderbilt’s request to renegotiate pricing came too late. Rockefeller had already invested in his own pipeline, leaving Vanderbilt without profit. The transportation mogul passed away just a few years later.

The Big Apple

While the city of Cleveland had served him well, in 1883 John D. Rockefeller decided it was time to take on the Big Apple. He moved his family to New York and began construction on the Standard Oil Building. The chosen site was at 26 Broadway, the same location as the former home of the head of the U.S. Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York, USA, circa 1900. Cable-stayed/suspension bridge over the East River. Started in 1869, it is one of the oldest road bridges in the United States. From Scenic Marvels of the New World edited by Prof. Geo.R. Cromwell. [C.N.Greig & Co., circa 1900]. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images)
Print Collector/GettyImages

The original structure was nine stories tall but after several renovations and expansions, it is now 31 stories and has become one of New York City’s official landmarks. Though the Rockefeller family sold the building in the 1920s, it is still known to this day as The Standard Oil Building.

A Battle With Congress

John D. Rockefeller’s rise to power did not go unnoticed. By the late 1880s, his wealth as well as his questionable business practices caught the eye of some members of the United States Congress. By creating numerous divisions of his company under the Standard Oil umbrella, John D. Rockefeller had come to monopolize multiple markets.

The Cabildo (Supreme Court), New Orleans, La., circa 1900. The Cabildo, designed by Gilberto Guillemard and built in 1799, was the seat of Spanish colonial city hall. Creator: Unknown. (Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images)
Heritage Images/GettyImages

Congress, driven by concerns over monopolies’ negative impact on American capitalism, enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 to outlaw monopolizing commerce in the United States. A mere two years later, the Ohio Supreme Court found Standard Oil in violation of this law. Consequently, John D. Rockefeller was compelled to dissolve the company and bring in new management for all his subsidiaries.

Find a Workaround

Even with Congress breathing down his neck, John D. Rockefeller refused to relinquish power. In an attempt to show that he was being compliant with the Sherman Act, he created a board to make it appear as though there were additional shareholders and decision-makers. Unbeknownst to Congress, the company’s hierarchy was still intact with all of the inner workings of each division being handled by a board led by John himself. 

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Rockefeller seemed to have found a workaround. He continued running things under the guise of a board for nine years but perhaps became too confident. In a bold move, he once again compiled each of his companies into one holding group causing Congress to intervene and force the company to dissolve once more.

Stress or Not?

Having every business transaction scrutinized by Congress could cause any tycoon to suffer from stress. Rockefeller was no different. He endured many stress-related symptoms including moderate depression, digestive issues, and hair loss after his tussle with the government.

1923:  The millionaire John D Rockefeller (1839 - 1937) on his 84th birthday.  (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Topical Press Agency/GettyImages

While the depression and digestive troubles were truly the results of his anxiety, his hair loss was not. When he was in his 50s, John D. Rockefeller was diagnosed with alopecia, a disease that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles, causing extreme hair loss. After going bald and losing his eyebrows, Rockefeller invested in wigs of different lengths to appear as though he was getting haircuts.

A Charitable Man

While John D. Rockefeller may seem like a self-serving man consumed by greed, in all actuality, he was quite charitable and kind. Even though he was one of the richest men in the world, he never forgot what it was like to struggle to feed his family. Because of this, he wanted to share the wealth.

US industrialist and philanthropist John Davison Rockefeller (1839 - 1937) (centre), in conversation with fellow businessmen, ignores an old beggar
Hulton Archive/GettyImages

No matter where he was going, John D. Rockefeller would carry on his person a bag of dimes which he would happily hand out to anyone he met. He was not concerned about their social status nor their financial status as he gave dimes to children as well as fellow millionaires such as Samuel Firestone of Firestone Tires. It is estimated that in total, he handed out over $35,000 worth of dimes in his lifetime. 

See a Problem? Fix It

In the early 20th century, the Rockefeller family dedicated their time and efforts to philanthropy, so when they discovered that 40% of all Southerners had become infected by hookworms, they quickly came to their aid. Hookworm is a parasite that causes those infected to suffer from anemia and exhaustion as well as stunted growth so the long-lasting effects could have been extraordinary.

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In 1910, in an effort to combat the outbreak of infections, John D. Rockefeller donated $1 million to the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission to map high-risk areas, treat those who were infected, and improve sanitation efforts in the communities. Since his intervention, hookworm has remained under control and can only be found in very rural areas of the Deep South.

Behind Every Great Man….

John D. Rockefeller, though having a brilliant mind for business, could not have become as successful as he was without the support and advice from his wife, Laura Spelman. Married in 1864, Spelman was also a philanthropist as well as an abolitionist who was passionate about higher education for women.

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In 1882, the wealthy couple began donating ample amounts of money to an Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, a college that was founded to educate black women during a period in history when other institutions forbade them from entering their grounds. After two years of hefty donations, the college changed its name to Spelman College in honor of Laura Spelman and her generosity.

Two Fine Institutions

While John D. Rockefeller is largely known for his role in creating a flourishing American economy, it should also be mentioned that because of his philanthropic work and generous charitable donations, The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and the University of Chicago were both founded.

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In 1890, he donated $600,000 to assist in funding the establishment of the University of Chicago, whose iconic chapel bears his name. In 1901, John D. Rockefeller founded The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in an attempt to encourage the study of diseases so that they may be prevented. Since its inception, scientists and medical staff have transformed biochemistry and medical treatments for numerous afflictions affecting people around the world.

Ahead of His Time

In an effort to support secondary and higher education in the United States regardless of race, sex, or creed, John D. Rockefeller established the General Education Board in 1902. Their goal was to promote education for all, at all levels, including the meagerly funded black schools in the South.

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He went one step further in 1913 when he created the Rockefeller Foundation to “promote the wellbeing of mankind throughout the world”. Since its inception, it has not failed to reach its goal. With millions upon millions of dollars donated, the foundation has improved public health, promoted education, and enhanced the arts as well as scientific and medical advancements.

The Philanthropy Started Young

While John D. Rockefeller has oftentimes been criticized for his less-than-conventional business practices and rumored misgivings, his charitable nature cannot be disputed. Since a child, he was convinced that a man of means has a duty to help others, so much so that he began donating his own funds ever since he received his very first paycheck as a teenager.

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As a teenager, each time he received a paycheck, he would donate a portion of it to his local Baptist church, the African-American church, and the Sunday School. Throughout his life, he firmly believed that “the rich man shouldn’t die rich, the rich man should die having done good things with the wealth that he has created”.

A Quiet Stance

While John D. Rockefeller rarely hid his social stances, when it came to his support of Prohibition, his participation was done so behind closed doors. Perhaps he opposed the use of alcohol because of his father’s drunken antics or he was standing in solidarity with his wife, Laura, who was the founding member of the Women’s Christian Temperance is up for debate.

(Original Caption) Barrels of beer emptied into the sewer by authorities during prohibition. Undated photograph. BPA2# 4180 (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)
George Rinhart/GettyImages

Either way, it was his huge donation that the WCTU used to pass the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act. Many speculated later that he funded Prohibition for his own financial gain, however, the fact that he never drank a lick of alcohol nor smoked an ounce of tobacco suggests that he considered both to hold no value.

A Life Worth a Biography

Because of his unprecedented success and charitable donations, the Rockefellers authorized a biography to be written about the patriarch in the 1930s. At the time, they asked the future Prime Minister and successful writer, Winston Churchill, to author it. Churchill reluctantly agreed but requested that the family extend him a $250,000 advance on the project. 

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Whether they were offended or not, the family respectfully declined and hired a Colombia University historian named Allan Nevins to do the honors instead. Certainly, they are one of the wealthiest families in the world and could have afforded the advance, however, they are also financially savvy and $250,000 was too steep a price tag.

The Death of a Tycoon

John D. Rockefeller lived a full life, dying of atherosclerosis in 1934 just two months shy of his 98th birthday. Because of his longevity, he actually outlived his life insurance policy earning him an additional $5 million dollars from his payout.

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Upon his death in 1934, Rockefeller was worth an estimated $1.4 billion. While that in itself is astounding, the fact that he maintained that level of wealth throughout his life is a testament to his intelligence and work ethic. Granted the billionaires of today may be worth more than John D. Rockefeller when he passed, however, that comparison is based on actual dollars as opposed to the percentage of the national GDP. For example, in 2019 Jeff Bezos was worth 0.006% of the total GDP whereas Rockefeller was worth an incredible 2%.

A Chip Off the Old Block

John D. Rockefeller and Laura Spelman had five children together, four daughters and one son. Their youngest, John Jr. was born on January 29, 1874, and grew up idolizing his father though he was relatively unphased by his immense wealth.

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Fueled by the desire to follow in his father’s footsteps, John Jr. joined him as a director at Standard Oil headquarters after graduating from Brown University. At the time, the company was in disarray due to the consequences of the Sherman Act, and the chaotic restabilizing left John Jr. feeling dissatisfied and yearning for a change of scenery. He made the decision to leave Standard Oil in order to focus his energy on real estate and philanthropy instead.

A Miner Dilemma

By 1913, John Jr. was a 40% shareholder and sat on the board of a Rockefeller-owned company called Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I). In September of that year, 11,000 coal miners working for CF&I went on strike to protest unfair wages, dangerous working conditions, and mistreatment from their employer. The company responded by evicting the miners and their families from the homes, leaving them to live in tents throughout the winter while continuing to strike.

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In an attempt to intimidate the miners into forfeiting the strike, the Rockefeller-owned CF&I requested the National Guard to descend upon them in their tent colony near Ludlow, CO. Sadly, the miners had no defense against the guardsmen who began randomly shooting those trying to flee. At least 20 men, women, and children were killed that day.

A Much Needed Change

Because of his affiliation with CF&I, John Jr. was targeted with much of the blame regarding the tragedy that occurred in Ludlow. The heir to the Rockefeller fortune was summoned to testify in front of the Commission on Industrial Relations and afterward, attempted to make amends by visiting the miners and their families in person to address their grievances.

Low angle view of the RCA Building (later the GE Building) at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the Rockefeller complex, New York, New York, April 1938. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Hulton Archive/GettyImages

The scandalous affair prompted John Jr. to pour himself into his philanthropic work in an attempt to rebuild his reputation through charitable contributions. He left the industrial industry altogether and, instead, invested in real estate. He donated the land that would become the site for the United Nations headquarters, created the famous Rockefeller Center, and devoted his time to restoring Colonial Williamsburg.

A Strong Family Bond

By 1930, John Jr. had become a majority stockholder in Chase Bank, restored Colonial Williamsburg, constructed Rockefeller Center, donated land for the United Nations headquarters, purchased land that would become Grand Teton State Park, and along with his wife, opened the Museum of Modern Art. 

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While all of these incredibly generous accomplishments certainly made an imprint on the world, his most important contribution was his children. His oldest, Abby Rockefeller, dedicated herself to philanthropic work and preferred anonymity. Her five brothers, however, quickly made favorable reputations for themselves throughout the realms of politics, business, and philanthropy.

John III

John Jr.’s namesake and the eldest of the five boys was John III. After graduating with honors from Princeton University, he embarked on a trip around the world which would become the inspiration for his future endeavors. He devoted himself to philanthropy as well as foreign affairs. Inspired by his love for the Asian countries, he created the Asia Society, reconstituted the Japan Society, and founded the Council on Economic and Cultural Affairs.

John Davison Rockefeller III (1906-1978) reads a paper. Rockefeller was the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., the philanthropist and industrialist. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Historical/GettyImages

John III also created the Population Council to address the worldwide issue of overpopulation, the first organization to do so. As a means to support performing arts, he created the iconic Lincoln Center in Manhattan. In his lifetime he was also responsible for founding and funding multiple NGOs prior to his fatal car crash in 1978.

Nelson

Nelson Rockefeller was motivated from childhood to do great things, claiming to his father that he would one day become President of the United States when he was just a boy. Though his father tried to instill in him the values of humility and modesty, his motivation made him the most high-profile of John Jr.’s children. 

While his career started out in the banking industry with Chase Manhattan, he went on to head up the development of Rockefeller Center during a period of economic decline. Still chasing his childhood dream, Nelson entered into politics, winning the election for Governor of New York in 1953. He served an impressive four terms as Governor prior to becoming the Vice President of the United States under President Gerald Ford between 1974 and 1977.

circa 1958:  American Republican politician and Governor of New York State, Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979).  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Keystone/GettyImages

A Scandalous Death

After serving as the 49th Governor of New York for 14 years, Nelson Rockefeller became the Vice President of the United States despite his rather unorthodox reputation with women. During a period of time when divorce was considered taboo, Nelson ended his marriage to his first wife in 1963. That same year, he married his second wife who was 18 years his junior.

American businessman and politician Nelson Rockefeller (1908 - 1979), 49th Governor of New York, with his wife, American philanthropist Happy Rockefeller (1926 - 2015) in London, UK, 26th September 1963. (Photo by Harry Benson/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Harry Benson/GettyImages

Because of his somewhat scandalous divorce, his new marriage to a younger woman, and his rumored extramarital affairs, Nelson was labeled a womanizer throughout his political career. It seems he carried that label to his death. In 1979, Nelson died of a heart attack. The initial reports from the media stated that he died at his desk, however, they soon issued a correction stating that he was found dead at the home of a 25-year-old aide with whom he was having an affair. While his wife contested the report, his aide confirmed it was true.

Laurance

Out of all of John Jr.’s children, Laurance was the visionary. He made a huge impact on the Big Apple as a venture capitalist on Wall Street. During his career on the New York Stock Exchange, he demonstrated his rare talent and a keen sense of knowing what would be successful and what would fail. 

Washington, DC. 12-6-1992 Laurance Rockefeller and wife Mary arive at the White House to attend the State Dinner for the Kennedy Centers Honors. Laurance Spelman Rockefeller an American philanthropist, businessman, financier, and major conservationist. He was a prominent third-generation member of the Rockefeller family, being the fourth child of John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. and Abigail Greene
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Laurance was a start-up’s dream as he invested in hundreds of them ranging from biotechnology to electronics to computers to aviation. His early investments in Apple and Intel alone are prime examples of his prowess in the trade. In addition to his Wall Street success, Laurance was also a dedicated environmentalist who was instrumental in numerous conservation efforts as well as establishing multiple national parks throughout the United States.

Winthrop

Winthrop Rockefeller was a humble and modest man who did not want to rely on his family’s clout and wealth to ease into a career. Instead, he went to the root of the family business and started out as an apprentice working in the oil fields. 

Winthrop Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was an American governor and philanthropist. He served as a director of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and was a Republican governor of Arkansas from 1967-1971. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Historical/GettyImages

At the end of the Second World War, in an effort to encourage cultural and economic change in the South, Winthrop went into politics serving as the Governor of Arkansas from 1967 to 1971. While some of his cultural changes were unwelcome in the South, such as integrating the schools, he became well respected for his additional reforms such as the state’s first minimum wage, the freedom of information law, and stricter insurance legislation.

David

The baby of the family, David, also became a powerful figure in the New York Stock Exchange after graduating from the London School of Economics and gaining a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

David Rockefeller (Photo by Shepard Sherbell/Corbis via Getty Images)
Shepard Sherbell/GettyImages

He dabbled in the political arena when he landed a job writing letters for the Mayor of New York, however, his political aspirations expired due to the Second World War. Instead of using his family name and wealth to avoid enlisting, David entered into the US Army as a private and soon rose to the rank of Captain during his service. He served in North Africa and France, establishing political and economic intelligence units, and then served as the assistant military attache at the American Embassy in Paris.

Post-War Career Change

When David returned from the war, he made a career change by joining Chase Manhattan Bank, a company his family had been tied to for generations. Because his uncle, Winthrop Aldrich, was chairman of the bank and his father and grandfather were its main shareholders, it was assumed by the employees that David was a spoiled child riding on his family’s coattails.

NEW YORK - MARCH 14:  David Rockefeller poses for photo in his office in the Rockefeller building on March 14, 2006 in New York City. David Rockefeller is last living  grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the oil tycoon who founded the family
Jean-Christian Bourcart/GettyImages

That assumption did not last long though, as he proved himself quite quickly to be a hard-working, everyday guy. He rode the subway to work with his peers, comprehensively learned the business, and pulled his weight with tasks at hand. Because of his hard work and dedication, he was promoted to co-CEO in 1960 and then CEO in 1969.

Chase Manhattan Expansion

As CEO, David concentrated his efforts on utilizing his worldwide contacts to increase the bank’s foreign presence. He expanded the foreign branches from 11 to 73, making Chase Bank the first stateside institution to open branches in both China and Russia.

397065 01: Laurence and David Rockefeller attend the New York Landmarks Conservancy Gala November 5, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Platzer/Getty Images)
Robin Platzer/Twin Images/GettyImages

With his global presence secured, David began to make internal changes in the company. He established its first human resources department as well as its planning and marketing departments alongside manager, Peter Drucker. David worked diligently to improve Chase Manhattan as well as the banking sector until he retired in 1981. When comparing the company’s worth from the time he started his career in 1946 to the time he retired in 1981, it was noted that Chase Manhattan went from a $4.8bn institution to a $76.2bn institution.

Passed Away

David Rockefeller died at the astounding age of 101! He died in his sleep at his New York home in March 2017. A year before, on his 100 birthday, he donated 1000 acres to the state of Maine.

Portrait of banker David Rockefeller, Chairman of the Chase Manhattan Corporation, circa 1965. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Keystone/GettyImages

His most famous quote was: “American capitalism has brought more benefits to more people than any other system in any part of the world at any time in history. The problem is to see that the system is run as efficiently and as honestly as it can be.”

A Coup for Humanity

During World War I, the Rockefeller Foundation offered help to what was presented as a “Public Health Movement” in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Unbeknownst to them, the movement was actually geared towards exterminating the poor, the disabled, and those of mixed African descent.

29th August 1962:  Senhor Joao Goulart, the vice-president of Brazil, having travelled from Singapore and believed to be en route for London. This follows the resignation of Brazil
Keystone/GettyImages

When David Rockefeller was employed at Chase Manhattan Bank in the 1960s, he publicly declared João Goulart, Brazil’s leader at the time, as an unacceptable candidate for dealings with the US banking system. In 1962, he convinced the Rockefeller Group to invest $12 million into the Brazilian elections in an effort to support the anti-communist candidates which consequently backed the coup that removed Goulart from office.

A Tragedy Takes Three Lives

While it may seem that the Rockefeller family has been bombarded with only good fortune, in fact, they have faced their fair share of tragedy as well. The first occurred in 1951 when the great-niece of John D. Rockefeller, Winifred Emeny, killed her two children as well as herself by carbon monoxide poisoning.

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A popular socialite in Greenwich. CT, Emeny shocked the community and her family with her actions on March 15, 1951. She placed her daughters, Josephine, age six, and Winifred, age 12, in the backseat of one of her cars, sealed up the garage doors, and started the engines of both vehicles. She then lay on the cement floor in between both cars and died. The family maid discovered all three bodies and contacted the authorities.

A Tragic Disappearance

On November 19, 1961, the fifth son of Nelson Rockefeller, Michael, disappeared after his catamaran tipped over off the coast of New Guinea. The 23-year-old photographer was working as a trustee for the Museum of Primitive Art and had made the trip in search of indigenous art. When the catamaran capsized, Michael volunteered to attempt to swim to shore in search of help for his fellow passengers. Sadly, he was never seen again.

Michael Rockefeller (1938 - 1961?), who disappeared during an expedition to New Guinea in 1961. He was the youngest son of New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. (Photo by T. Nielsen/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Keystone/GettyImages

While his death is officially listed as drowning, the actual events remain a mystery. Some have suggested that he could have been attacked by a shark or a crocodile while others suspect a much darker fate. In the region where the accident occurred, there are multiple small islands that are home to indigenous, cannibalistic tribes who are fiercely territorial. A month after his disappearance, a Dutch priest who is allowed on the islands questioned the men from the Otsjanep tribe to see if they had seen Michael. They readily admitted that they had killed and eaten a man matching his description.

A Tragic Car Crash

The namesake of his father and grandfather, John D. Rockefeller III was tragically killed in a head-on collision in Mt. Pleasant, NY on July 10, 1978. At the time of his death, the 72-year-old philanthropist was the oldest living Rockefeller left in the family. The accident occurred just 12 miles north of the family’s sprawling estate, Kykuit.

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John D. Rockefeller III was being driven by his secretary when a 16-year-old driver strayed from his lane on a blind curve and hit their car head-on. Both Mr. Rockefeller and the young driver perished in the accident. The secretary luckily survived.

A Tragic Plane Crash

Son of the billionaire banker, David Rockefeller, Dr. Richard Rockefeller chose the path of philanthropy instead of business. A physician by trade, he served as chairman of the United States Advisory Board of Doctors Without Borders and dedicated his later life to establishing worldwide methods of treatment for those suffering from PTSD.

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On June 12, 2014, after visiting the family estate for his father’s 99th birthday, the experienced pilot took off from Westchester County Airport departing the runway in a dense fog and light rain. Within ten minutes, the ground crew had lost contact with him and notified authorities. They found the plane crashed less than one mile from the airport. He was just 65 years old.

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People & Personalities

DANGERS THAT COME WITH IMPERSONATING PUTIN

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This is not Vladimir Putin!

Danger that come with impersonating Putin is enermous. Having a loved one who earns a living impersonating a murderous dictator with a taste for knocking off people he doesn’t like with deadly novichok is unsurprisingly a little stressful

A bloke who looks like Vladimir Putin says his family are scared for his safety, but he won’t do anything about his appearance.

Slawomir Sobala, 54, from Poland, admitted he was aware of the dangers of looking like one of the most hated people in Europe – and even acknowledged some people are rude to him because of it.

Despite this though the man from Wrocław, in the west of the country, says he won’t change his appearance. Speaking to the Daily Star, Slawomir explained that he knew the danger that comes with impersonating Putin and entirely what was at stake with his decision to play Putin in satirical art.

“My family is very concerned about my safety because they know that playing Putin’s role is very risky and dangerous,” he explained. “Unfortunately, many people cannot distinguish reality from satire and when they see me play the role of Putin, they think that I am just like [him] in everyday life.”

Putin's war in Ukraine continues (file)

That assumption has even stretched to people berating him for his appearance, with some even telling him he should feel shame for it. “After February 24, 2022, about 250,000 people from Ukraine came to my hometown of Wrocław. Every Ukrainian knows perfectly well what Putin’s face looks like, and that is why I have been in a situation many times when people from Ukraine have teased me, saying that I should be ashamed of looking like that.”

Despite this though, Slawomir is determined to be part of the fight against Putin’s tyranny, and his weapon in that conquest is satire. It is because of this – and a firm belief that goodness comes from the heart, not what you look like – that he says he won’t change his appearance.

With a fellow impersonator

“I thought that the day Russia invaded Ukraine, I should give up playing the role of Putin. I even published a statement on this matter on my website that I would no longer play the role of Putin. But when so many people approached me and asked me to participate in projects that involved criticising the Putin regime from the Kremlin, I agreed.

“Thanks to this decision, today I have probably become the only person in the world who, thanks to a twist of nature, gave me the strength and the opportunity to show that it is not the appearance that makes a person bad. You can help other people, even if you look like Putin. Many people thanked me for giving them new hope for the future thanks to the satire, where they saw Putin as weak and ridiculed.”

Do you see the resemblance?

Noting that what you look like doesn’t matter, as long as you’re a good person on the inside, he continued: “I think that changing my image by growing a moustache or shaving my hair wouldn’t change anything in my everyday life anyway. I always say that appearances don’t make us good or bad people.

“You need to be open to establishing good relationships with other people and not be afraid of criticism. Thanks to these rules, I established a lot of interesting contacts and met many wonderful people with whom I was able to bring joy to people all over the world.”

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