Nigerians have the habit of celebrating and recognising noisemakers, the pilferers, the nitwits, the chameleons, the bandits and the destroyers of our collective dreams while neglecting our ethical best and brightest visionaries, this is a clear indication of how we appreciate loudness for substance and falsehood for truth.
If there was ever a man that is worthy of celebration in the context of Nigerian history, education and politics that man is Akwaeke Abyssinia Nwafor Orizu.
From which ever angle you look at it, the story of Nigeria, education and Africa irredentism, cannot be written without references to the contributions of Nwafor Orizu.
He was propounded of Zikism and founder of the Zikist movement.
July 17th remains memorable for those who share and identify in the ideals and ideology of Nwafor Orizu as that was the date this apostle of horizontal education and Africa irredentism was born.
The narrative of any society cannot be written in isolation of their heroes. Remembering or celebrating the birth date of heroes like Nwafor Orizu offers us an opportunity to critically think, discuss and consolidate on their ideologies.
Despite being from my town Nnewi and even with his Status erected in the town, I never knew about his exploits until sometime last year when my Mentor Mazi Tobe Osigwe gave me his autobiography “Liberty or Chains: Africa Must be” to read. Mazi Tobe Osigwe went further to take me to God’s village which is his country home.
Also the same year, I had the opportunity of meeting one his sons Nnamsom Nwafor-Orizu who exposed to me some of the notable life experiences of his Father.
Nwafor Orizu is man whose story of humble beginning will inspire any living being. He had a very turbulent life in his early years in life especially after the death of his father, Eze Ugboayamba, Igwe Orizu 1, but later emerged victorious through his deep rooted belief, implicit confidence and unshakable faith in God as the supreme father of the universe.
Nwafor Orizu is one of the few Nigerians in his days, who genuinely believed in the unity of Nigeria. He was a dogged freedom fighter, social crusader, philosopher, nationalist, Pan-Africanist and a man of vision.
He was a selfless man who sacrificed personal comfort for the common good of Nigeria and Africa.
He did not acquire education for knowledge but also as a tool to liberate the black man which is deeply rooted in his message of horizontal education and Africa irredentism.
As a student, while studying public law and government in Ohio State University, Nwafor Orizu wrote a book seen as the African Bible called “Without Bitterness”,
During his days as a student in America, Nwafor Orizu organized the African Students Association and founded a magazine known as the African Interpreter. He was also the brain that initiated the American Council on African
Education, under which umbrella he secured more than 500 scholarships for many African
students to study in different places in America.
He was a pen soldier and eloquent speaker who used his pen and oratory power to fight colonialists, along with other nationalists until the British Government had no option than to give Nigeria independence in 1960.
Nwafor-Orizu is not just a leader but he is also a seer and a visionary. He is a gifted man that can see deep and far into the future, his books, speeches projections and words over the years appear to have been prophetic because those issues and problems which he pointed out in most of his books are now affecting us.
It is very unfortunate that Nwafor Orizu appears underappreciated and few Nigerians know him in terms of his exploits for Nigeria and Africa.
However, i am confident that history will never forget his timeless contributions to the development of Nigeria and Africa at Africa.
Posthumous birthday to one of Nigeria’s foremost educationist.
– Ebubechukwuzuloke Brown