11 Facts on Nnamdi Azikiwe

11 Facts on Nnamdi Azikiwe

(16th of November 1904 – 11th of May 1996)

  • He was born in Zunegru, northern Nigeria to Igbo parents from Onitsha. His father sent him to Onitsha at 8 years old to live with his grandmother, there he learnt Igbo culture and language. He also completed his primary school education in Onitsha and went to the Methodist Boys High School in Lagos to complete his secondary education.
  • He got a job as a clerk at the Colonial service run by the British Government where he faced racial discrimination and bias. He was later persuaded to attend university in America. He later got into Storer College, a preparatory college in West Virginia for 2 years.
  • He had to work odd jobs to pay tuition and afford living expenses. He became lonely and depressed for a short while. He was later transferred to Howard College where he was involved in sports. Then he obtained his first degree and a masters degree from Lincoln College and another masters in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

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  • He worked as a columnist in Baltimore Afro-American, Philadelphia Tribune and Associated Negro Press. Here he was influenced by Garveyism and pan-Africanism. His work spread to Nigeria and he was welcomed by several people when he returned to Nigeria in 1934. Shortly after he became the founding editor of a Ghanian newspaper called the African Morning Post. 
  • He pushed his radical pro black and pan-African ideals as editor and stirred an uproar within the colonial community. He criticised the colonial powers and the African elite’s who he felt “sucked up” to the system. He talked openly about a New Africa. This New Africa had 5 main philosophies and they were social regeneration,  spiritual balance, economic determinism, mental emancipation and national Risorgimento (movement for unification and independence)
  • He was placed on trial for sedition and sent to 6 months in prison for publishing the article “Has the African a God?” written by I.T.A Wallace- Johnson. In this article, the Europeans were accused of forcing their ideas of Christianity of Africans. He was acquainted on appeal and he returned to Nigeria to start his own paper called the West African Pilot. He promoted Nigerian Nationalism and human interest stories.  The paper, however, became more radical after the second world war and the Indian independence. The topic of Nigerian independence was also greatly promoted.
  • He also started business ventures like African continental bank and a restaurant called Penny restaurant. He joined the Nigerian Youth Movement but left after a while because he sensed tribal discrimination going on in the organisation.
  • He cofounded National Council of Nigerians and Cameroons alongside Herbert Macaulay in 1944. Azikiwe became the premier of Nigeria’s Eastern Region in 1954. He was part of a group of men who were responsible for the negotiations with the British government that in turn led to Nigeria’s independence in October 1960.

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  • In November 1960 he became the Governor General of Nigeria. After Nigeria became a republic in 1963 he became the first president of Nigeria. He was a special adviser to the Biafra leader Ojukwu during the Biafra war. He established the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1960.
  • He got married twice and had 7 children. The national airport in Abuja, Nigeria is named after him. He was the first Nigerian to be appointed into the privy council of the United Kingdom. He received 14 honorary degrees.
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