17. Chidiebere Ibe – Representation with a Difference

Chidiebere Ibe is a medical student and Forbes-Featured medical illustrator whose illustration of a black fetus in utero went viral in December 2021.  Many commentators said that this was the first time that they had seen a depiction of a dark-skinned fetus or pregnant woman and provoked a discussion about the lack of representation of such images in textbooks and journals. Chidiebere has a bachelors degree in chemistry from the University of Uyo in Nigeria, and is the Chief Medical Illustrator at the Journal of Global Neurosurgery.  He holds numerous roles on various committees relating to medical education.

Our conversation starts with Chidiebere’s upbringing in Nigeria and some of the difficulties he encountered in getting even basic services – such as internet access.  He describes how he used to travel one hour each way to his church to get access to an internet connection. He then discusses his first attempt at medical illustrations and how he was essentially self-taught in this domain.

We move then to talk about “that” iconic image of a black fetus in utero that caused such a profound reaction across medical circles, medical schools and the media at large.  We talked about how empowering representation of diversity can be and how important it is to demonstrate belonging, a right to be counted and to be recognized and how it can enable better access to healthcare and better equity.

We finish with Chidiebere’s personal reflections as he embarks upon another quest to attend medical school.  About the importance for him of understanding where he has come from, where he is now and where he is going.

See these links for more information on Chidiebere’s work: www.chidiebereibe.com www.championingchange.africa

This podcast is being released both as a bonus in advance of inclusion in our Fiftyfaces Focus Medicine and Science Series of 2022 as well as in our ongoing Nigerian Voices Series.