Samuel Ládòkè Akíntọ́lá or “S.L.A.”was born in Ògbómòsó on July 6, 1910. He was a politician and who was renowned for his great oratory skills. He held the title of the highly revered Aare Ona Kakanfo XIII of Yorubaland.
Chief Akintola was a teacher in the 1930s and early 1940s. He left teaching to study public administration and law in England and returned to Nigeria in 1950’s a qualified lawyer. Upon his return, he teamed up with other educated Nigerians from the Western Region to form the Action Group (AG) under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. As the deputy leader of the AG party, he did not serve in the regional government headed by its premier Chief Awolowo, but served as the parliamentary leader of his party in the House of Representatives of Nigeria. At the federal level he served as Minister for Health and later Minister for Communications and Aviation.
In late 1959 in preparation for Nigeria’s independence, the Action Group party took a decision which affected the career of Akintola, the party and Nigeria when the party asked him to swap political positions with Awolowo by becoming the premier of the Western Region while Awolowo who also was the national leader of the AG, would became the party leader in the Federal House of Representatives as well as the Opposition leader in the House.
The division of roles in the Western Nigeria government led to a conflict between SLA and Awolowo; the AG party broke into two factions leading to several crises in the Western Region House of Assembly that led the central/federal government, headed by the Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to declare State of Emergency rule in the Western region and an Administrator was appointed. After a lengthy court battle, SLA was restored to power as Premier in 1963 and won in general election of 1965 not as member of the Action Group party but as the leader of a newly formed party called Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) which was in an alliance with the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) the party that then controlled the federal government.
Along with many other leading politicians, Akintola was assassinated in Ibadan the capital of Western Region on January 15, 1966 during the first military coup. The coup also terminated Nigeria’s First Republic.
SLA was married to Chief Faderera Abeke Akintola. They had five children, two of whom were finance ministers in Nigeria’s Third Republic (Chief Yomi Akintola and Dr Bimbo Akintola). Chief Yomi Akintola served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Hungary and SLA’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Dupe Akintola is Nigeria’s High Commissioner in Jamaica. His fourth child, Chief Victor Ladipo Akintola, dedicated much of his life to ensuring the continued accurate accounting of SLA’s contributions to Nigeria’s position on the world stage. Chief S L Akintola’s youngest son, the late Tokunbo Akintola, was the first black schoolboy at Eton College, enrolling two terms prior to the arrival of Dilibe Onyeama (author of Nigger at Eton).
Many institutions, including Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho were established in his home town and other Nigerian cities to remember him. Above all he practiced law.
Click below to listen to SLA’s 1965 campaign Speech:
Chief Ladoke Akintola 1965 Campaign Speech (Part 1 of 3)
Chief Ladoke Akintola 1965 Campaign Speech (Part 2 of 3)
Chief Ladoke Akintola 1965 Campaign Speech (Part 3 of 3)
Larry Diamond, Class, Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria, Syracuse University Press
Alfred P. Sloan Jr. was one of the most influential executives in twentieth century American manufacturing. As chief executive officer, president, and chairman of the board for the automaker General Motors (GM) over several important decades, Sloan was responsible for implementing strategies and practices that helped GM emerge as one of the most successful American companies of the century. In 1998, over 30 years after Sloan's death, GM still held the number one position in American business, leading Fortune magazine's list of the Top 500 American enterprises.
Sloan was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1875, the son of Alfred P. Sloan Sr. and Katherine Mead Sloan. His father was a machinist with investments in a number of businesses, including a tea and coffee import company. When Alfred Jr. was five, the family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he excelled academically in its public schools. As a teen, he passed the entrance examination for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but was denied admission because of his young age. He was allowed to enter at the age of 17, and earned his degree in electrical engineering in three years.
Sloan married Irene Jackson and maintained a home on New York's Fifth Avenue. According to the profiles of him published during his lifetime in magazines like Time and Forbes, Sloan was the quintessential mid-century auto executive, with no interests or hobbies outside of the office. He and his wife had no children, but Sloan was close to a half-brother, Raymond, who was 18 years his junior. When Raymond died in the 1940s, Sloan was deeply saddened, and increased the funding and time he gave to the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. His half-brother had been a hospital administrator and had drawn Sloan into medical philanthropy. Sloan was also known to be generous with his resources when he learned of a GM family in trouble; he once spent a Christmas holiday working toward finding the best medical care for the burned child of a plant manager, neither of whom he had ever met. He also refused to publish his autobiography, My Years with General Motors, until all of the people mentioned had passed away. Sloan himself died just two years later on February 17, 1966, and is buried in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
Sloan's father was an investor in a New Jersey business called the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company, which made billiard balls. After Sloan, Jr. received his degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1895, he went to work at Hyatt as a draftsman. In just under a decade he had risen through the ranks to become its president. Part of the reason for both his and Hyatt's success came from Sloan's recognition of Hyatt's ability to expand its business by producing steel roller bearings for the auto industry. Through his sales to the executives who were usually the founders of their firms and pioneers in the auto industry, Sloan came to know many of the most important names in the business; Henry Ford, for example, was both a customer and a friend of Sloan's.
Hyatt Roller Bearing's success in making and marketing the anti-friction bearings used in the auto industry led to an investment involvement with one automaker, the United Motors Corporation. This company had originated a practice of linking to its suppliers in a mutually beneficial relationship, thus Sloan and Hyatt teamed with United in 1916 to become its only supplier of steel roller bearings. The investment of $13.5 million made Sloan a vice-president when United Motors merged with General Motors two years later. By 1923, he became president of GM when Pierre DuPont, a major shareholder, retired after three years on the job and became board chair.
Sloan's talent for running a thriving financial enterprise is one of the most significant success stories in twentieth century American business. GM was so financially sound that it was barely affected by the Great Depression; despite the Wall Street crash of 1929, its stock continued to pay shareholder dividends. In 1937 Sloan was elected board chair, and continued as both chair and CEO until 1946; he remained chairman of the board of directors until 1956, when he officially retired.
Social and Economic Impact
Sloan's autobiography, My Years with General Motors, was published in 1964 and it remains required reading in most business school graduate programs. It was one of the first corporate-focused biographies ever written by a leading executive, and it remained on the bestseller lists for weeks. Sloan's coauthor was John McDonald, a senior writer at Fortune.
In his memoirs, Sloan recounts how GM came to be the biggest manufacturing operation in the world, second only to the conglomeration known as U.S. Steel. Sloan was responsible for giving GM, its operations, and its innovative management style, his own personal stamp—one that endured decades beyond his retirement. During his first years as president in the 1920s, GM doubled its manufacturing output and broke sales records. It also absorbed much of its competition, and some of the smaller carmakers either folded or were folded into General Motors during this time. Its biggest competitor was another Detroit-run operation, the Ford Motor Company, and during Sloan's tenure GM succeeded in surpassing Ford's industry lead in just a few short years. Sloan's encouragement of a close friend and head of his Buick operations, Walter P. Chrysler, to strike out on his own led to the launch of what would become the number three automaker, the Chrysler Corp.
The way in which Sloan structured GM, which is detailed in his book, revealed him as one of the first theorists of management as a discipline in modern American business. Sloan was responsible for structuring GM into five separate divisions, each producing and marketing cars aimed at a particular segment of the market, from affordable Chevrolets to elegant Cadillacs. In this way the divisions were able to share development and engineering costs among themselves, which added greater profit to the higher-priced luxury models. Such a strategy was later adopted by the Japanese automakers in the 1980s when they launched their upscale divisions such as Acura and Lexus. Sloan also put into place a decentralized management structure with centralized financial operations at GM, which was later widely copied by other American companies in the years after World War II.
When Sloan became chair of GM's board of directors in 1937, he was the highest-paid executive in the country. The economic success of General Motors, however, did lead to labor unrest and the beginnings of the United Auto Workers union. Sloan's refusal in 1936 to meet with its representatives to address grievances over job security, wages, and safety launched a sitdown strike at GM plants, and led to the eventual formation and legal recognition of the United Auto Workers a year later, a significant moment in American labor history. Not surprisingly, Sloan was a staunch supporter of Republican politics.
John D. Rockefeller, an American industrialist (a person who owns or oversees an industrial corporation) and philanthropist (a person who works to help mankind), founded the Standard Oil Company, the University of Chicago, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
John Davison Rockefeller was born on July 8, 1839, in Richford, New York, the second of six children. His father owned farm property and traded in many goods, including lumber and patent medicines. His mother, who was quite the opposite of his father's fun-loving ways, brought up her large family very strictly. After living in Oswego, New York, for several years, the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1853, when it was beginning to grow into a city. John graduated from high school there and excelled in mathematics.
After graduation Rockefeller attended a commercial college for three months, after which he found his first job at the age of sixteen as a produce clerk. In 1859, at age nineteen, he started his first company, Clark and Rockefeller, with a young Englishman. They grossed (money earned before expenses) four hundred fifty thousand dollars in the first year of trading. Clark did the fieldwork while Rockefeller controlled office management, bookkeeping, and relationships with bankers.
From the start Rockefeller showed a genius for organization and method. The firm prospered during the Civil War (1861–65), when Confederate (Southern) forces clashed with those of the Union (North). With the Pennsylvania oil strike (1859) and the building of a railroad to Cleveland, they branched out into oil refining (purifying) with Samuel Andrews, who had technical knowledge of the field. Within two years Rockefeller became senior partner; Clark was bought out, and the firm Rockefeller and Andrews became Cleveland's largest refinery.
With financial help from S. V. Harkness and from a new partner, H. M. Flagler (1830–1913), who also secured favorable railroad freight rebates, Rockefeller survived the bitter competition in the oil industry. The Standard Oil Company, started in Ohio in 1870 by Rockefeller, his brother William, Flagler, Harkness, and Andrews, had a worth of one million dollars and paid a profit of 40 percent a year later. While Standard Oil controlled one-tenth of American refining, the competition remained.
Rockefeller still hoped to control the oil industry. He bought out most of the Cleveland refineries as well as others in New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. He turned to new transportation methods, including the railroad tank car and the pipeline. By 1879 he was refining 90 percent of American oil, and Standard used its own tank car fleet, ships, docking facilities, barrel-making plants, depots, and warehouses.
Rockefeller came through the Panic of 1873, a severe financial crisis, still urging organization of the refiners. As his control approached near-monopoly (unfair control over an industry), he fought a war with the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1877 which created a refining company to try to break Rockefeller's control. But bloody railroad strikes (workers' protests) that year forced them to surrender to Standard Oil. Rockefeller's dream of order was near completion.
America's first trust
By 1883, after winning control of the pipeline industry, Standard's monopoly was at a peak. Rockefeller created America's first great "trust" in 1882. Ever since 1872, Standard had placed its gains outside Ohio in the hands of Flagler as "trustee" because laws denied one company's ownership of another's stock. All profits went to the Ohio company while the outside businesses remained independent. Nine trustees of the
Standard Oil Trust received the stock of forty businesses and gave the various shareholders trust certificates in return. The trust had a worth of about seventy million dollars, making it the world's largest and richest industrial organization.
In the 1880s the nature of Rockefeller's business began to change. He moved beyond refining oil into producing crude oil itself and moved his wells westward with the new fields opening up. Standard also entered foreign markets in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. From 1885 a committee system of management was developed to control Standard Oil's enormous empire.
Attacking the trust
Public opposition to Standard Oil grew with the emergence of the muckraking journalists (journalists who expose corruption), in particular, Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847–1903) and Ida Tarbell (1857–1944) who published harsh stories of the oil empire. Rockefeller was criticized for various practices: railroad rebates (a system he did not invent and which many refiners used); price fixing; and bribery (exchanging money for favors); crushing smaller firms by unfair competition, such as cutting off their crude oil supplies or restricting their transportation outlets. Standard Oil was investigated by the New York State Senate and by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1888. Two years later the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated Standard's original trust agreement. Rockefeller formally disbanded the organization and in 1899 Standard was recreated legally under a new form as a "holding company," (this merger was dissolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1911, long after Rockefeller himself had retired from active control in 1897).
Perhaps Rockefeller's most famous excursion outside the oil industry began in 1893, when he helped develop the Mesabi iron ore range of Minnesota. By 1896 his Consolidated Iron Mines owned a great fleet of ore boats and virtually controlled Great Lakes shipping. Rockefeller now had the power to control the steel industry, and he made an alliance with the steel king, Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919), in 1896. Rockefeller agreed not to enter steelmaking and Carnegie agreed not to touch transportation. In 1901 Rockefeller sold his ore holdings to the vast new merger created by Carnegie and J. P. Morgan (1837–1913), U.S. Steel. In that year his fortune passed the $200 million mark for the first time.
Rockefeller, from his first employment as a clerk, sought to give away one-tenth of his earnings to charity. His donations grew with his fortune, and he also gave time and energy to philanthropic (charity-related) causes. At first he depended on the Baptist Church for advice. The Church wanted its own university, and in 1892, the University of Chicago opened. The university was Rockefeller's first major philanthropic creation, and he gave it over $80 million during his lifetime. Rockefeller chose New York City for his Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research (now Rockefeller University), chartered in 1901. In 1902 he established the General Education Board.
The total of Rockefeller's lifetime philanthropies has been estimated at about $550 million. Eventually the amounts involved became so huge (his fortune reached $900 million by 1913) that he developed a staff of specialists to help him. Out of this came the Rockefeller Foundation, chartered in 1913, "to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world." He died on May 23, 1937, in Ormond, Florida.
Rockefeller's personal life was fairly simple. He was a man of few passions who lived for his work, and his great talent was his organizing genius and drive for order, pursued with great single-mindedness and concentration. His life was absorbed by business and family (wife Laura and four children), and later by organized giving. He created order, efficiency, and planning with extraordinary success and sweeping vision.
Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Scotland. After moving to the United States, he worked a series of railroad jobs. By 1889 he owned Carnegie Steel Corporation, the largest of its kind in the world. In 1901 he sold his business and dedicated his time to expanding his philanthropic work, including the establishment of Carnegie-Mellon University in 1904.
Industrialist and philanthropist. Born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Although he had little formal education, he grew up in a family that believed in the importance of books and learning. The son of a handloom weaver, Carnegie grew up to become one of the wealthiest businessmen in America.At the age of thirteen, Carnegie came to the United States in 1848 with his family. They settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and Carnegie went to work in a factory, earning $1.20 a week. The next year he found a job as a telegraph messenger. Hoping to advance his career, he moved up to a telegraph operator position in 1851. He then took a job at the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1853. He worked as the assistant and telegrapher to Thomas Scott, one of the railroad's top officials. Through this experience, he learned about the railroad industry and about business in general. Three years later, Carnegie was promoted to superintendent.
While working for the railroad, Carnegie began making investments. He made many wise choices and found that his investments, especially those in oil, brought in substantial returns. He left the railroad in 1865 to focus on his other business interests, including the Keystone Bridge Company.By the next decade, most of Carnegie's time was dedicated to the steel industry. His business, which became known as the Carnegie Steel Company, revolutionized steel production in the United States. Carnegie built plants around the country, using technology and methods that made manufacturing steel easier, faster, and more productive. For every step of the process, he owned exactly what he needed: the raw materials, ships and railroads for transporting the goods, and even coal fields to fuel the steel furnaces. This start-to-finish strategy helped Carnegie become the dominant force in the industry and an exceedingly wealthy man. By 1889, Carnegie Steel Corporation was the largest of its kind in the world.Some felt that the company's success came at the expense of its workers. The most notable case of this came in 1892. When the company tried to lower wages at a Carnegie Steel plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania, the employees objected. They refused to work, starting what has been called the Homestead Strike of 1892. The conflict between the workers and local managers turned violent after the managers called in guards to break up the union. While Carnegie was away at the time of strike, many still held him accountable for his managers' actions.
In 1901, Carnegie made a dramatic change in his life. He sold his business to the United States Steel Corporation, started by legendary financier J. P. Morgan. The sale earned him more than $200 million. At the age of 65, Carnegie decided to spend the rest of his days helping others. While he had begun his philanthropic work years earlier by building libraries and making donations, Carnegie expanded his efforts in the early twentieth century.Carnegie, an avid reader for much of his life, donated approximately $5 million to the New York Public Library so that the library could open several branches in 1901. Devoted to learning, he established the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, which is now known as Carnegie-Mellon University in 1904. The next year he created the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1905. With his strong interest to peace, he formed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1910. He made numerous other donations, and it is said that more than 2,800 libraries were opened with his support.Besides his business and charitable interests, Carnegie enjoyed traveling and meeting and entertaining leading figures in many fields. He was friends with Matthew Arnold, Mark Twain, William Gladstone, and Theodore Roosevelt. Carnegie also wrote several books and numerous articles. His 1889 article "Wealth" outlined his view that those with great wealth must be socially responsible and use their assets to help others. This was later published as the 1900 book The Gospel of Wealth.
Andrew Carnegie." 2012. Biography.com 05 May 2012, 01:20 http://www.biography.com/people/andrew-carnegie-9238756
Cyrus Hall McCormick was born in Rock bridge County, Virginia, the eldest son of Robert and Mary Ann McCormick. Though he received only a limited formal education, he showed a talent for mechanics and soon learned the skills of his father, who had been experimenting with farm machinery since about 1816. The Elder McCormick patented a thresher and other farm machines, but none of them were commercially successful, and his attempts to build a mechanical reaper,a device capable of cutting grain, ended in failure. In 1831, Robert abandoned work on the reaper and Cyrus took over the project.
With a new perspective on the project, Cyrus built a machine that departed radically from his father's designs. (It is suspected that McCormick's black mechanic, Joe Anderson, may have played a major role in the reaper's development without receiving recognition for it). Its workings, including the gearings, reciprocating knife, projecting teeth, and rotating reel became the basis for modern-day harvesting machines. McCormick gave a public demonstration of his reaper in a field outside John Steele's tavern in July 1831. He further improved the machine and exhibited it in Lexington, Virginia, the following year.
In 1833 Obed Hussey, who was to become McCormick's chief rival, publicly demonstrated his own reaper outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. McCormick patented his reaper in 1834 but did little with it at first. While his father's iron works business was floundering, Cyrus attempted to keep the business afloat with the limited manufacture of his machines. After the business failed in 1841, he finally had a chance to become aggressive with his own work. In 1844 McCormick made arrangements for the manufacture of his machines at factories in New York, Ohio, and other states; they sold well enough to provide McCormick with some capital to establish his own factory. McCormick, aware that the rapid opening of the Midwest and Great Plains to settlement would lead to demand for farm machines, and realizing the strategic importance of a mid-western location, opened a factory in Chicago in 1847, where he produced 800 reapers the first year.
McCormick steadily improved his reaper and supplemented his own patents by acquiring the patents of others. These acquisitions gave McCormick the competitive edge over Hussey. Following the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, at which both men displayed their machines, McCormick's business overwhelmed Hussey. In 1858, the year that Hussey sold out, McCormick was producing 4,000 machines annually.
Cyrus McCormick became a prominent public figure. He came to wield a great deal of influence among government officials, Congress, and the United States Patent Office. He left the manufacture and development of his machines to employees while he spent much of his time in court rooms and hearing chambers defending his patent rights and pursuing national and international recognition.Much of the campaign funds of a young lawyer from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln,came from his legal representation of McCormick's bitterest rival, John H. Manny.
In 1871 the McCormick factory burned to the ground in the great Chicago fire.With the encouragement of his wife, he not only rebuilt the business but rebuilt much of Chicago as well. For this, several Chicago landmarks are named for him.
The McCormick Harvesting Machine Company merged with Deering Harvester Company and three smaller manufacturers to become the International Harvester Corporation in 1902. In the spirit of McCormick, the company diversified, becoming a world leader in the manufacture of agricultural machines and equipment, light- and heavy-duty trucks, and lawn and garden tractors. A long and bitter labor dispute in the early 1980s dealt a severe financial blow to International Harvester, and the company restructured itself and changed its name to Navistar Corporation.
Femi Ajayi was born in Obboland, Ekiti Local Government, Kwara State, Nigeria. After his Elementary Education he moved to Ilorin where he attended Bishop Smith Memorial Teacher's College, and College of Education. He spent his adult life, attending Schools and Teaching in Ilorin before moving to the United States of America.
He is an Executive Director, Office of Secretary of State, Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to that he worked with the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, Atlanta, Georgia as a Legislative Consultant. During his tenure with the GLBC, he successfully co-developed three major projects for the GLBC: Peach State Black Tourism Association; Institute of Technology Transfer; and Minority Economic Development. These three projects created opportunities for minorities, especially African Americans, to economically empower themselves in the State of Georgia. Dr. Ajayi is also a consultant, on leadership, for the National Conference of Black Mayors, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. The program, Leadership Institute for Mayors (LIM), is an annual one-week program designed to train newly elected Black Mayors on governance. The program entices officials from both private and public sectors, providing information on available sources of Grants and other information that could help them accomplish their goals as public officials.
He has to his background teaching experience at Clark Atlanta University; Served as Chairman, Social Science Department, Ebon International Preparatory Academy, Forsyth, Georgia. He taught at Government Secondary School Bama, old Borno State, during his National Youth Service Corps, Government secondary School, Afon, Kwara State, and at Ijan Otun Anglican Elementary School, Ijan-Otun, Kwara State.
He is the Chairman Advisory Board, African Quest Newspaper, Atlanta, Georgia; Advisory Board Chair, Nigerian Youth Alliance, Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Femi Ajayi was elected to the Southside Healthcare Board of Directors, Atlanta, Georgia, from 1992 - 2000: Board Secretary in 1994 and Board Chair from 1995 -1999. It has an annual budget of over $14 million. Dr. Ajayi also served in the Student Senate (1981-1984) and Vice President, Nigerian Students Union, 1983 -1984, at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma. Under his leadership, Southside witnessed tremendous improvement in quality community health services.
Dr. Femi Ajayi has received many honors, including an Outstanding Georgia Citizen, Secretary of State, Atlanta, Georgia, a Community Service Award, from the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, Atlanta, Georgia; All American Scholar Award, United States Achievement Academy.
His public appearance includes Radio and Television interviews on Nigerian issues. Dr. Ajayi belongs to numerous non-profit Associations, Board member of other four Health Care Associations in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Femi Ajayi received his Ph.D. degree in Political Science from Clark Atlanta University, Georgia, with concentration in American Government, International Relations, African Politics, and Public Administration. His M. A. is in International Relations with concentration in Global Conflict Resolution and B.A. in Public Service from the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma. He obtained his National Certificate in Education with concentration in West African History, Geography, Philosophy and Psychology, he is happily married with four children.
She is an adjunct professor of African American history who has taught children, adults, community college students and university students as well. She has undergraduate degree in psychology as well as additional study in history and international studies that fuelled the research she took as a graduate student in contemporary European history. On first glance one would assume that her area of concentration is Europe. It isn't. She is fully focused on Europe as starting point for study of colonialism, colonization, Trans-Atlantic slavery, the American slave system and African American culture and life.
Click the link for her articles: http://chatafrik.com/component/k2/itemlist/user/148-lavondarstaples.html
Book Review: Time to Reclaim Nigeria, a book of essays by journalist and columnist, Chido Onumah
By Prof. Harry Garuba*
When I received the soft copy of the galleys of this book in the short interval between committee meetings, I was so captivated by the title that I immediately started reading and had to be reminded by phone that the second session had begun. The idea of reclaiming Nigeria struck a deep chord in me as I recalled the many incidents of tortured delay at airports as soon as I produce my passport. Or the moments of discomfort and dissimulation when someone notices your decidedly non-local accent and asks the inevitable question- where do you come from? – and, instead of proudly proclaiming your Nigerianness, you pause and then answer with your own question – why do you want to know?
These incidents that take place either in transit or outside the country are mirrored within the country by the anecdotes you hear all the time about the impact of corruption and inefficiency on everyday life. The frustration is palpable.
Every Nigerian can tell you their own tale of woe about the state of the country, from stories about the frequency of the petty roadside bribe to the brazen looting of public resources; tales about the deadly infrastructure of roads and the inefficiencies of public utilities. But what most of us do not know is that we can reclaim the country from the corrupt and inept leaders who have turned it into a vast moral desert, a place where nothing works and where there is no conception of the public good. This is precisely what this book admonishes us to do: to reclaim the country from those who have brought us to our knees. As you go through this book, you cannot but agree with the author that it is truly time to do so.
This book provides us with a historical record of wrongdoing spanning roughly the just-over-one decade of the return to democracy in Nigeria. It brings together the many columns written by one journalist over the years in different newspapers and magazines commenting on the state of the nation and its leaders, showing us the many wrong turns we have taken on the road. The 65 pieces collected here serve to remind us of the disparities of opulence and poverty that mark Nigeria, the plunder of its resources by an avaricious elite, the venality and chicanery of politicians, the utter disregard for the niceties of governance and accountability, and the list of odiousness continues without let. The repetitive folly the book details is only alleviated by the logic and lucidity of Onumah’s prose which compels you to keep reading.
Every year end, I often find myself rereading old newspapers – before I thrash them - to relive the fury and the frenzy of commentary on the topical issues that dominated the news that year and assess which of these have faded into oblivion or diminished into inconsequence. Reading through Chido Onumah’s pieces brought that feeling of perspicacity that hindsight provides, except that the catalogue of malfeasance neither seemed to have faded nor diminished; it was like returning to an old wound that simply refuses to heal or be cauterised no matter how you try. In spite of the relentless bleakness of the landscape of turpitude it maps, it is important to note that the anchoring premise of this book is that surely, this recurring nightmare has to stop. It’s time for us to dare to dream.
Home, they say, is where the hurt is; but home is also where hope nests. Time to Reclaim Nigeria takes us through the hurt to the home of hope. If you are still reading this, it’s time to embark on this journey from hurt to hope with Chido Onumah’s book as guide and compass.
*Harry Garuba is the Head of Department and Associate Professor in the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa. He has a joint appointment with the English Department. His teaching interests include: African Literature; Postcolonial Theory and Criticism; African Modernities; and Intellectuals/Intellectual Traditions of African Nationalist Writing.In addition to being an author and poet, he is a member of the editorial advisory board of the Heinemann African Writers Series and one of the editors of the newly established electronic journal Postcolonial Text. He has an active interest in African and postcolonial literatures and has published a volume of poetry Shadow and Dream & Other Poems, and has edited another Voices from the Fringe.
His recent publications have explored questions of mapping, space and subjectivity within a colonial and postcolonial context and issues of modernity and local agency, especially the nature and form of African inflections of the modern.
Chido Onumah holds an MA in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. He was Director of Africa Programme, Panos Institute, Washington, DC, and former Assistant Editor of Third World Network's African Agenda magazine. He has worked as a journalist in Nigeria, Ghana, and Canada. He has been involved for more than a decade in media training for professional journalists as well as promoting media and information literacy in Africa. He is currently coordinator of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Abuja, Nigeria. AFRICMIL is a pan-African centre dedicated to a new vision of media and information literacy as a key component in the education of young people in Africa.
Chido, recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award (1997), is the Founder and Publisher of the influential and respected USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the Internet), the Chinua Achebe project www.Achebebooks.com, the ultra-glossy CLASS magazine, the exciting photos and events mega-site with the largest collection of contemporary images/events of continental Africans in America PhotoWorks.TV, The Black Business Journal , BBJonline.com, several blogs, and USAfrica The Newspaper which voted the Number One community newspaper in Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S.) in the annual ranking by the readers and editors of the Houston Press in 2001.
The flagship of American media, The New York Times of September 23, 2003, noted that USAfrica is America's largest African-owned multimedia company. The New York Times' reporter Simon Romero wrote that Chido "Nwangwu recently created a magazine called Class for affluent Africans in the United States." To be sure, it's not only for the affluent but the willing and deserving. CLASS is the Africans-in-America's own Ebony and People and GQ - all rolled into one unique product: an ultra-glossy magazine of African style, music, living, fashion and our younger generation interests. He calls the latter group 'generation Class.' CLASS is the magazine for successful, pioneering, style-pacesseting and exemplary Africans in America.
He appears as an analyst on the CNN, the Voice of America/WorldNet and the Black Entertainment Televsion (BET), as well a number of local U.S. tv and radio stations. Also, he was the only continental African publisher/reporter who traveled with and covered U.S. President Bill Clinton's historic visit to parts of Africa, March-April 2, 1998; and covered Clinton's visit to Nigeria in late August, 2000. He was the only Africa/African-American Publisher who reported from inside the joint seating of the U.S Congress during Liberia's president Dr. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf''s historic speech in March 2006.
Chido served on Houston Mayor Lee Brown's international business advisory board (Africa) and has been honored by the Washington-D.C.based National Immigration Forum for utilizing the media to fight authoritarianism and fostering freedom of expression in parts of African continent. He has served on the board of the Houston chapter of the NAACP, and was the first continental African to be admitted to the 100 Black Men of America, here in the U.S.
In 2005, he established one of the most vibrant Africa community e-groups/blogs/community calendars for sharing info/announcements of upcoming and special events, insight to significant dates, festivals, events, resolutions/communique and historic milestones involving (or relevant to) persons, organizations and groups of Nigerian descent Nigeria360, the blog for the Igbo pan-African heritage, called IgboEvents; an Anglican community blog, AnglicanAfrican, and more. They are all powered by the resources of USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com.
Nwangwu speaks at colleges and businesses on technology issues, especially how the unfolding the digital world and the Internet affect Africans, African-Americans and recent immigrants. He served as a panelist at the 2000 British Broadcasting Corporation/Public Radio International global technology forum in San Francisco, California.
He served on the editorial board of the Daily Times of Nigeria in the 1989 into early 1990s, 1988-1989 assistant editor of the Platform magazine, African and The World journal. He began his professional career as a very young man in the news, sports and programs production/camera/editing departments of the Nigerian Television Authority. He contributes to The Mail and Guardian of South Africa, Houston Chronicle, and numerous U.S.-based and Africa issues publications.
In recognition of his engaging and pioneering digital design work on USAfricaonline.com and other web sites, Chido was voted the #1 African-American web designer in 1997 by the Houston Association of Black Journalists. He has since conceptualized, designed and maintained through his company, USAfrica Digital Media, a number of web sites, including private corporations and such governmental sites as the Abia State of Nigeria first web site in 2001.
Nwangwu is author of the special report, Clinton's Africa, and is writing a book on the experiences of recent African immigrants in the U.S.
He has been profiled in the Houston Chronicle (8th highest circulated newspaper in the U.S.), the Orlando Sentinel, Mail and Guardian of South Africa, and a number of other publications. Some of Chido Nwangwu's works, bio-data and context of his writings were recently profiled in February, 2001 in a report in the Houston Press by prolific essayist and reporter John Suval.He is the convener of the annual inter-denominational USAfrica Prayer Breakfast, which holds at 9am prompt on the last Saturday of every January, of every year, since 1999. He serves on the advisory board of several community building and international organizations including EVA (Education as Vaccine against AIDS-based in Nigeria and the U.S). He is an active new technologies analyst, television and multimedia executive, cross-cultural business consultant and an artist.