A Łódź success story can be found in local resident John Godson, Poland’s first black member of Parliament. Godson, born Godson Chikama Onyekwere in Nigeria in 1970, moved to Poland in 1993 as a Pentecostal missionary and began accumulating degrees – including a master’s in international relations from the Łódź Academy of International Studies. Godson married a local Łódź woman and had four children, becoming a naturalized Polish citizen in 2001. Soon after he jumped into the city’s political scene, joining the Łódź City Council in 2008. When former MP Hanna Zdanowski left her spot in Parliament to become mayor of Łódź in 2010 Godson took over her seat in the Sejm that December, with his historic swearing-in ceremony broadcast live on Polish television, and was re-elected in 2011.
Called ‘Poland’s Obama’ by some, Godson uses his position as member of the Civic Platform to promote education, a natural fit considering his background (Godson is currently working on two doctorate degrees: one in political science from the University of Warsaw, and one in management from the University of Łódź). Many Poles say Łódź’s Godson is not a novelty but rather a sign that the country’s citizens want to challenge the stereotype of Poland as a homogenous society unfamiliar with diversity. Godson told Reuters that standing out has been a good thing when it comes to his career. “Being a black… has helped me in my political service because at least it has made me conspicuous. It makes me kind of visible in the things that I do. So I think it has helped me.”