The Rt. Hon. (Chief) Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Owelle of Onitsha) considered not just a famous nationalist but arguably “Father of Nigerian Nationalism”. He played quintessential and very instrumental role in helping secure our independence in 1960 from our British colonial masters. He rose to become not just the first Governor-General of Eastern Region but first Ceremonial President of Nigeria.
Writing about “Zik of Africa“ is not just out of fondness but because I had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting and interacting with him, which I consider the most unforgettable experiences of my life and I detailed our encounter in my book “The Political Diary of A Rising Son” published in 2010 and dubbed both titles “An Encounter With Zik” and another “Zik and Political Immortality”. My bias and love for this great African caused me to not only admire, relish and treasure his contribution to humanity but probably the greatest African of his generation. I consider Zik an indefatigable political leader, or “man of timber and caliber” as some would say.
Born in 1904 in Zungeru northern Nigeria, and went to meet his Maker in 1996. As a renowned intellectual who studied abroad in the United States at Howard University and Lincoln University Pennsylvania, he was a protégé and compatriot of the great Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Thurgood Marshall of Blessed memory.
My first meeting with this great African Political genius was during the late 1970’s at the heat of Political campaign and he was the presidential candidate of the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) and I young and a member of Youth Wing of the party, very passionate about building a better more sustainable Nigeria where unity ethic cohesion will trump ethnocentrism and tribalism.
After attending one of his Press Conference at the Hotel Presidential Enugu (then still Anambra State) I marveled at his intellectual sagacity and political gravitas. Then he was being hounded by FEDECO for not paying his taxes “as and when due” instead of “as they became due”. But it was obvious the attempt was to disqualify him from contesting against NPN, UPN and GNPP.
Because of Zik of Africa, I cut my teeth and developed interest in journalism, I infatuated by his eloquence interest to become “journalist of the highest water.” My consequent interest and sojourn to United States was emulating my mentor’s part to political greatness. As William Shakespeare said “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” My mentor Zik clearly achieved greatness coming from relative obscurity from the commercial town of Onitsha in Eastern part of Nigerian.
Among his extraordinary qualities was his eloquence and erudite oratory, he once said he considers himself a “Fabian Socialist” his Political tactician who is often very unpredictable.
I wrote an article while still fresh from High School published in the Daily Star newspaper titled “MOP Attack On Zik” a rejoinder in defense of Zik after musician-turned politician Fela Anikulakpo Kuti who had formed Movement of the People (MOP) unfairly attacked him as one the old politicians who should hang it up. Seeing my article published gave me the impetus to pursue journalism in the United States and today Co-Founding “Our World Media magazine. My imbibement and activism in the Diaspora is a testament to my affiliation and fondness from meeting Zik face to face at Lincoln University Pennsylvania his Alma mater. I impacted in him my interest in politics and commended him for his contribution to Africa most populous nation Nigeria.
Written and Submitted by: Dr. George Onuorah, Author, Humanitarian and Disciple of Zikism
(Email: firstname.lastname@example.org @GeorgeOnuorah2)
Wonderful article Dr. George! Insightful and penetrating. Nigeria is crying for young people of his caliber to rise up and take up the mantle of leadership.