Nnamdi Azikiwe and the vision of a united Africa

Wednesday May 15 2019


Dr Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, usually referred to as “Zik” was the First President of the Republic Nigeria and ruled from 1963 to 1966. Prior to becoming President he was Governor-General of Nigeria of independent Nigeria from 1960 to 1963.

He is the founding father of the Nigeria nation who lend Nigeria to independence in 1960.

Nnamdi Azikiwe, like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Leopold Senghor of Senegal, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and others was a leader in the Pan-African Movement.

Nnamdi Azikiwe was is a scholar who wrote many works of educational philosophy. He is today honored as the towering African pragmatic progressive philosopher, scholar and eminent journalist of the twentieth century.

His philosophy of educational thinking is based on three interrelated realms of pragmatism, progressivism and pan-Africanism. Mentored by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana he became a practical pan-African of the 1960s and 1970s and is considered among others the Father of the African Pan-African Movement.

Azikiwe was born on the 16th November 1904 to Igbo parents in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria in present-day Niger State of Nigeria. From 1918 Azikiwe attended Holy Trinity School Roman Catholic mission school and at the CMC Anglican primary school in Onitsha where he finished his elementary education. Between 1920 and 1924 he attended his secondary education at the Hope Waddell Training College in Otisha and at the Methodist Boys High School in Lagos.


In 1925 Azikiwe attempted to stowaway to the US through the Gold Cost (present day Ghana), but could not make it to the US and ended up in Ghana. He then joined the police force in Ghana but when his father discovered that he was in Ghana and he had joined the police force he sent his mother to fetch him.

He was discharged from the police force and returned to Nigeria. On his return his father retired from work and used his retirement proceeds to send his son to the United States.

In 1925 Azikiwe travelled to the United States for further education where he attended a two-year preparatory university course at the Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. From 1929 he attended Columbia University, the Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and the Howard University earning a Master’s Degree in Religion.

In 1932, he received a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

While in the United States Azikiwe became a graduate-student lecturer in the History and Political Science Departments at the Lincoln University, where he created a course in African history.

He then studied a Doctoral Degree in political science at Columbia University before returning to Nigeria in 1934. During his time in America, he was also a columnist for the Baltimore Afro-American, Philadelphia Tribune and the Associated Negro Press.

In late1934 he returned to Africa where he began work as a journalist in the Gold Coast (present day Ghana). As a journalist he became very critical to the colonial rulers and saw them as oppressors who came to Africa to weaken the weak. From a quote of the ‘15th May 1936 African Morning Post article’ he wrote: “… Personally, I believe the European has a god in whom he believes and whom he is representing in his churches all over Africa. He believes in the god whose name is spelt Deceit. He believes in the god whose law is “Ye strong, you must weaken the weak”. Ye “civilized” Europeans, you must “civilize” the “barbarous” Africans with machine guns. Ye “Christian” Europeans, you must “Christianize” the “pagan” Africans with bombs, poison gases etc.…”

This excerpts landed him into a sedition trial and was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison, but his conviction was overturned on appeal. Azikiwe then returned to Lagos in 1937 and founded the West African Pilot, a newspaper which he used to promote nationalism and pan-Africanism.

In Nigeria Azikiwe worked as a journalist and established several newspapers dedicated to sensitization and reawakening of the African identity course to raise political consciousness.