Ngozi Emeka Mensah, a.k.a. “Oz” and “Mr. Oz” to his students and co-workers

Educator, Middle School Science Teacher
Delray Full Service Center

Ngozi Mensah was born in Farnborough, England in April 1951. He and his wife, Rhonda have three children and reside in Boynton Beach. His mother Gladys lives and resides in Delray Beach, and his brother, Bert is close in West Palm Beach. His father, Bertram, recently deceased, was a charter member of the Moshi Sister City Committee and Sister City board member. Together Ngozi and his father were instrumental in the formation of the Sister City alliance with Moshi, where they had lived and father, Bertram had worked as a radio broadcasting engineer and technical director for Radio Voice of the Gospel.

Bertram had emigrated to the US, from England aboard the Queen Mary with Ngozi and wife Gladys, in 1952, and had lived in White Plains, New York. Brother Bert was the only American-born member of the family, arriving in 1953. Leaving a radio broadcasting job in Mount Kisco, N.Y., his father took a job in December 1961, as the Radio Production Director for Redio Sauti ya Injili (Radio Voice of the Gospel) and took the family to East Africa with the Board of World Missions of the Lutheran Church of America (LCA).

Ngozi was nine years old when he and his family arrived in Moshi. The date was December 3rd, 1961, just three days before Independence Day (Uhuru), in what was then Tanganyika. The adult Mensahs assimilated into the society and started their work in the newly independent Tanganyika, and Ngozi and his brother, Bert, went to a Lutheran boarding school for missionary children in central Tanganyika, in Kiomboi, near Singida, 190 miles south in Central Tanganyika.

His parents were stationed on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, in a small town Mwika, where the first studios of Redio Sauti ya Injili were housed at the Lutheran Bible School. Redio Sauti ya Injili grew quickly and eventually radio project and the Mensahs moved to Moshi, where Bertram Sr. designed a new production studio and administrative offices, on the sight where Sauti ya Injili currently stands.

Ngozi went on to the Rift Valley Academy for high school in Kijabe, Kenya, just outside Nairobi. In 1969 he graduated and went to Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. He majored in chemistry. After graduating Ngozi moved to Minneapolis where he worked as a chemist and a coach in the elite sport of gymnastics.

In 1974 Ngozi relocated to Palm Beach County, Florida when his parents returned from the mission field. He worked several years as a chemist in West Palm Beach, but following his dream, he went to the University of Florida to be an assistant coach, to pursue the studies of sports science. As a University of Florida ‘Lady Gator’ gymnastics coach, Oz traveled the country on the NCAA Division 1 competition circuit. After four years he took advantage of an opportunity to open Sun Country Sports Center, a multi-sport complex in Gainesville, Florida.

Three years later he sold his interest in that business and moved back to South Florida, where he began to take advantage of his science background to become an elementary school science teacher, for the Broward County School District. He taught K-5 students, but also the teachers, as part of the science cadre of inservice instructors, and eventually became noted for his skills in the use of the computer technology in delivery of classroom science curriculum. This took him to the District administrative office, as a technology integration specialist. This occured when Broward was developing its long-ranged technology plan and Ngozi, known as Oz, got a great deal of experience doing workshops for staff training and curriculum development.

After nine years in the Broward County Schools’ system he left to try his hand in private industry, working first for Apple Computers and later for Computer Curriculum Corporation. He eventually started his own computer training and consulting business, but eventually returned to the sports environment as administrator of student programs for the Palm Beach County Sports Institute, where he promotes sports to Palm Beach County's youth. Funny as it may seem, that job led him back into the school system. This time in Palm Beach County. Last year he taught at Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, in Riviera Beach. As a consultant, he had help the school envision and write a technology plan to fulfill the charter of an International Communications Technology Magnet School. He spent last year the teaching technology sensory lab, in an effort to help the school implement their tech plan.

However, in a tough decision over the past summer, he changed jobs. This year, in order to work closer to home and to be able to participate in Sister City meetings and functions, Ngozi has taken a position at the Delray Full Service Center, as the Middle School Science Teacher. His Principal, Mrs. Virginia McGrath, is very excited about a connection with Sister Cities, which has allowed Oz to take on the chairmanship of the Moshi Committee. This automatically makes him a member of the Sister City Board of Directors, which coordinates the efforts of the Moshi and Miyazu Committees.

It must be pointed out that the 18 years with Miyazu have been fruitful, resulting in the Morikami Museum and Botanical Gardens and numerous student exchanges and visits to Japan, and by Japanese. The Moshi Sister City effort has a rich heritage to follow and emulate. The result of simultaneous visits by delegations from Moshi and Miyazu, in April 2002, has ben a Tri-Lateral Sister City agreement, where Miyazu has now taken Moshi as their second Sister City. We look forward to hearing about and seeing the fruits of this unique relationship.

Ngozi was a member of the delegation from Delray Beach that visited Moshi, in February of 2001, at which point he and the others presented the official proclamation to the Moshi City Council and participated various other ceremonies, including the naming of one of the main roads into the city of Moshi, Florida Road.

It was Oz’s first return in 29 years, and he surprised and thrilled everyone by conversing in Kiswahili and digging up old acquaintances from the Radio Center. This was truely a great homecoming for him and a testimony to the ‘rightness’ of the Delray Beach-Moshi connection. As he and his family had hosted Onesmo Ngowi during his visit, as the first delegate from Moshi in 1999, he was now returned the favor by Onesmo, who traveled with and guided the group through the many visits around Moshi and the Kilimanjaro area. He, Onesmo, was as excited as Ngozi, because the vist of this delegation had become one of his personal goals, and they both shared in the excitement of the visit from Delray Beach.

The two friends were able to renew and refresh their friendship when the fourteen delegates from Moshi came in April 2002. Ngozi, now played the role again, as host, guide and translator to the group, along with n’Detenga n’Gurumo, known also to Ngozi as ‘Simba Arobaini’ (40 Lions) a relic of his romp through Tanzania in the late 60’s and early 70’s. At the time the delegates visited Delray Beach, n’Gurumo was the performing chairman, and between them and with the help of the Moshi delegation they showed the group a wonderful time. The remaining symbol of this ring of friendship is the baobab tree, Rafiki, which means friend in Kiswahili. This wonderful tree from Africa is planted on the west lawn of Old School Square. As it grows, and it does grow very large, it will exemplify the tie to Moshi.

Ngozi continues normal American life with his lovely wife Rhonda, a Jamaican-born lady of many talents. Rhonda, is a human resources professional, for many years in healthcare and now a senior administrator at the national headquarters of Tandem OutSource, Inc. in Delray Beach, as their VP of Human Resources. Their youngest son, Alex is two in November. Lisa, fifteen is a 10th grader at Boynton Beach High School. Toma, the eldest son, is in his second year with Army intelligence, stationed in Seoul, Korea. Life is good and promises to stay intersting for this growing family.