In this last part of the chronicles of Nnamdi Azikiwe “Zik” we will tell the legacy as a father of Nigerian nationalism and a pan-African.
Similar to the other great pan-African forefathers like Nkrumah, Lumumba, Haile Selassie, Nyerere, Kenyatta, Nasser and others, the pan-African beliefs and stanzas of Nnamdi Azikiwe continues to resonance today.
Nnamdi Azikwe pan-African dogmata are imbedded in his writing as a scholar. He wrote about his philosophy of a new Africa in the 1940s. He said: “…The African has not been in a state of incunabular throughout his history.
There is no scientific proof to sustain the idea of superiority or inferiority of any race, physically or mentally.
For the Africans to cultivate an inferiority complex that he is inferior to other races, is to sign the death warrant of Africans. An emancipation is therefore essential…”
In 1962 Nnamdi Azikiwe as a Governor-General of Independent Nigeria gave an address on the subject pan-Africanism and defined pan-Africanism as the African freedom and identity. He said: “…Pan-Africanism denotes the search for an African personality.
To others, it implies negritude. …it connotes a situation which finds the whole continent of Africa free from the shackles of foreign domination with its leaders free to plan for the orderly progress and welfare of its inhabitants…”
To Nnamdi pan-Africanism was an endeavor to form one grand regional or continental African state: “…I think that Pan-Africanism should be concretized …in the form of …one continental State …allowing this to be done voluntarily without upsetting the total sovereignty of the States concerned.
If this barrier is hurdled, I suggest that the African States concerned should sign and ratify conventions…”
Azikiwe also described the challenges that retard the speed to achieving a pan-African nation. He said: “…the problems of African unity are the vestigial attachments of African States with their former colonial rulers. …imperialism is all-pervading in its operations it envelops in its totality the very atmosphere of these former colonies.
Consequently, their political, economic, social, educational, spiritual, cultural and religious institutions have been subjected to a terrific impact from which they may never recover…”
In January 1969, Ukpabi Asika a Nigerian Senior Civil Servant wrote a tribute to Nnamdi Azikiwe who he met while attending a Commonwealth meeting in London. He said: “…Yet today we turn to Zik, as we turn to a father, to help us save ourselves even as he discovered us more than thirty years ago.
As an elder statesman, he could quite properly have remained in his retirement and watch us struggle with our failures. But he is here, today amongst us …Let us salute a hero and a servant of his people. You are very welcome Sir…”
The legacy of Nnamdi Azikiwe as a pan-African is ensured in many tributes and honors he received after his passing. For instance at Azikiwe’s death 1996; The New York Times said that “…He towered over the affairs of Africa’s most populous nation, attaining the rare status of a truly national hero who came to be admired across the regional and ethnic lines dividing his country…”
Nnamdi Azikiwe’s greatness is also epitomized in several monuments and memories like the Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall, the oldest building on the Lincoln University campus; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja; Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu; Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Anambra State; and Nnamdi Azikwe Library at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Others are Nnamdi Azikiwe Press Centre, Dodan Barracks, Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos; Azikiwe Avenue in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and the CRDB Azikiwe Branch in Dar es Salaam.
For this Dr Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe one of the first generation of the leaders of the African continent went down in history as a committed leader who desired and worked hard to achieve the dream of a free united one Africa.
Today in Nigeria and Africa, those who love justice and unity gather every 11th May of each year to give words of tribute to a great leader and a son of Africa.