No doubts, each country of the world has gone through ups and downs. Difficult periods of life always show who is who: a friend or foe, a coward or hero. Just people with brave hearts are able to make positive changes even at the country level. Let’s pay respects to Nigerian heroes that fought for Independence and are the example of intrepidity and real patriotism for many upcoming generations.
Nigerian heroes made a great impact on history. They were not afraid to be honest proclaiming their ideas. Owing to their active political position crucial metamorphoses have been made in the history of Nigeria. You will be able to know the facts about these very great men below.
Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904-1996) is Nigerian politician, the first president of Nigeria, the founder of Nigerian nationalism. He is widely known as ‘Zik’.
He was a representative of Igbo nationality. Zik got higher education abroad, in the USA. He studied journalism and human sciences there. He wrote the book ‘Renascent Africa’. Returning home Nnamdi Azikiwe started to edit a local newspaper in English in Lagos ‘West African Pilot’ and took part in the establishment of the organization National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons. In the early 1960s he became the president of Nigeria beginning a new epoch of ‘First Nigerian republic’. Later he was outset in military coup by general Ironsi. Afterwards Zik backed up separatist aspirations of Biafra.
Herbert Macaulay – (1864-1946) Nigerian prominent figure in Independence fight, prolific politician, ardent activist, journalist, engineer and architect. Graduating British university he became a certified engineer, but returning home H. Macaulay decided to devote his life to a political career. Thus, he was at the root of Nigerian nationalism ‘creation’. H. Macaulay had a strong belief that people living in Nigeria had to be united against British colonialism and fight for Independence. For this he established a periodical where nationalist ideas had been voiced. Moreover, later H. Macaulay managed to establish a party. He was the closest associates of Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Together with his friend, Zik, they created the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons at mid 1940s. The fact that he was appointed the first president of this organization could not be omitted too.
Being an ardent political figure and activist he was also a productive writer of political works, publicist articles, political documents and private letters which are taken to libraries and museums.
Ahmadu Bello (1919-1966) is a key figure in Nigerian history of Independence craving. Born in the family of a noble origin he had distant blood relationships with Sultan. Leaving school he became a teacher of English.
The start of his career was successful and soon he got promotion and served in Sultan’s Council. Later he was assigned to a few of positions and subsequently sent abroad to obtain higher education.
Upon his return from Britain he became a representative of Sokoto province. Bello managed to be tolerant and diplomatic in certain urgent issues given a good account of himself.
At the elections at early 1950s he became minister of works. It should be mentioned that he changed several posts there but he invariably represented the northern regions of Nigeria. Afterwards he became the Premier of northern Nigerian states.
His political cooperation with Nnamdi Azikiwe and other nationalists led Nigeria to a long-awaited Independence achievement.
Being premier of the northern regions Mr. Bello fought also for the rights of northern Nigerian residents. His way of diplomacy and political beliefs were new for that time because he managed to combine traditionalism and innovation, respect to religion and rationalism. He was sure that only local people knew the problems and understood the needs of population that is why he dismissed all the strangers from the leadership positions. This novelty perplexed the ruling class a lot.
Anthony Enahoro (1923-2010) – a famous personality, social activist, sport fan and politician. Working as a newspaper editor he made an immense contribution to the question of Independence attainment. Owing to his intrepidity a motion on Independence had been ‘born’ and transformed into a movement. This motion had been passed by the government several times and failed. Only in 1960 Nigeria was granted Independence. That is why it is quite justified that in the history A. Enahoro is known as ‘Father of Nigeria State’.
Obafemi Awolowo (1909 – 1987) is a politician of Nigeria, Yoruba by ethnic affiliation. A graduate of London university in the mid 1940s, a member of Nigerian party. He supported the creation of the Nigerian Labor Congress. In two years he took part in the cultural organization establishment ‘Agba Omo Oduduva’ that aimed to help the Yoruba be consolidated. Consequently, the anti-colonial party ‘The Action Team’ was set up on its basis. It's important to mention that the politician also fought for regional ethnic autonomy worked out the party manifesto. In the period of 1952-1954 he was appointed the Minister of local governance. In 1954-1959 – he became the prime-minister of the west Nigeria. After Independence attainment, Obafemi Awolowo was designated the Minister of finance in the military Government. In 1978-1983 he was a leader of the party of Nigerian Unity.
Kudirat Abiola (1951 - 1996) is a Nigerian educator, activist, politician’s wife and his loyal assistant, caring spouse and loving mother. She has become a symbol of patriotism. Her deeds simply speak for themselves because in her short lifetime she managed to do a lot.
Being a spouse of a successful politician she performed many social roles, for instance, owing to her backing educational programs had been set up. Except this work she founded a business of her own. It was a rather successful firm. Moreover, she took up in the strike of oil workers concerning the limitations of working day. It was the most significant strike in Nigeria’s history and consequently government took measures to facilitate working conditions of the strikers.
Alas, an evil accident ended her life terminating a chain of good actions. It turned out that she was killed by the unknown and at the same day her husband was imprisoned for unknown reasons as well. Soon community knew that a successful politician M. Abiola had won the elections and at the same time such a tragedy happened in his family. What a strange coincidence! It is pity to mention but probable murderers got away with it.
Even more than 20 years passed since that day but Nigerians still love and cherish the memories of this miraculously kind woman.
Hajiya Gambo Sawaba
Hajiya Gambo Sawaba (1933 - 2001) is an outstanding politician and women rights activist. Living in hard times when women rights were oppressed so much and their roles limited to house chores she dared to voice a question of gender equality. Moreover, Gambo Sawaba spoke out against gender based violence. Unfortunately, she had got a bad experience of her personal life.
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Several times she had been sent to prison for spreading ‘free thoughts’ which found followers in the society and a lot of enemies among the elite and masculine influential leaders. Later on G. Sawaba began to widespread the idea of female voting at elections.
Gone through punishment, derision, humiliation, public incomprehension and non-acceptance of her innovative concepts she managed to stand her ground and fought for women independence.
Magaret Ekpo (1914-2006) – a teacher, women right activist, politician. Graduating school she could not proceed studying due to family problems, though Magaret aspired to be a well-educated person from early childhood. She found her calling in the teaching sphere. She started working at elementary schools.
In mid 1940s being a married woman she got a chance to enter the university abroad where her husband had to go. Thus, Mrs. Ekpo managed to enter and graduate the university in Ireland. On the return home she founded the Institute of Domestic Sciences and Sewing.
As for a political career, it should be stated that she was the first woman politician who fought for women civil rights in Nigeria. Having traveled a lot she knew that European women had more rights than Nigerian ones and still they demanded more. That is why Magaret Ekpo started to voice the issues in particular transportation of women to markets, women participation in political and economic life. In 1950s Ekpo was designated to the regional House of Chiefs and further she managed to establish Aba Township Women’s Association.
Murtala Muhammed (1938-1976) is considered to be a Nigerian national hero.
During ten years M. Muhammed made a fast military career: from second lieutenant to Brigade Leader. He received military training in Britain.
In 1975 he was proclaimed the president after a bloodless coup organized J. Garba and supported by local people. Becoming the head of the state M. Muhammed changed immediately the army, navy, Air Force, police and the General Headquarters leadership. All twelve governors were also dismissed. Then he reformed the administrative system resulting in increasing the number of states from twelve to nineteen. The president nationalized two main newspapers, radio and television broadcasting and universities too. It should be mentioned that he fought against corruption and immensely decreased number of bureaucrats. Twelve posts of ministers among twenty-five vacancies were given to the civilians. M. Muhammed decided to move the capital from Lagos to the center of the country, Abuja. Being such a prolific leader he was killed in his car in half a year of a presidential regime.
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti (1900-1978) a well-known and respected all over the world Nigerian teacher, women rights activist, feminist and politician. ‘Mother of Africa’ is the nick name of F. R. Kuti. Her modern view changed women’s situation in the country where men had always been dominating.
In mid 1950s she actively fought for female rights. She organized educated and uneducated women throughout the country and began sensitization on actual matters. She spoke against special taxes for women traders. Moreover, she founded several funds for women which consisted of over 20 000 females. Besides this, at the time of her activism Kuti was elected to the house of chiefs.
Being retired she did not quit her labor but travel a lot and spread ‘perilous communist ideas’. The son of Kuti followed her steps. She helped him a lot in his endeavors. Alas, she was thrown from the window and subsequently died of injuries.
These are the brave hearted Nigerians who fought for Independence and sacrificed their lives to a sacred labor. Their names will stay forever in hearts of new upcoming generations that live in a free Independent state.