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Nine Things To Know As Global Icon Chief Emeka Anyaoku Clocks 91

From Obosi town in modern-day Anambra State in South-East Nigeria to the rest of the world, Chief Anyaoku shook his world with an impact that would last generations, undoubtedly.


FILE PHOTO: Former Secretary General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku

 

“Healer of international strife, a seeker after mutual understanding and a patient negotiator.” This was how the University of Liverpool described Nigeria’s pride in the diplomatic community, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, when the institution bestowed an honorary doctoral degree on him in 1993.

More than three decades later, the statement, “Healer of international strife”, still befittingly captures the phenomenal persona of Chief Anyaoku as he turns 91 today, January 18, 2024.

From Obosi town in modern-day Anambra State in South-East Nigeria to the rest of the world, Chief Anyaoku shakes his world with an impact that would last generations, undoubtedly.

As the elegant diplomat and fine breed of a distinguished elder statesman known as the Ichie Adazie of Obosi celebrates his 91st birthday today, here are nine things you should know about one of the stars who lighten up Nigeria’s skies, brightening the rest of the world:

1. Born on January 18, 1933, in Obosi town, Anambra State, he was a student leader at the University College Ibadan, where he studied the Classics. He also studied further in England and France.

2. He took an active part in the push for Nigeria’s independence from Britain.

3. In April 1962, he was appointed personal assistant to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.

4. In 1963, he was posted to Nigeria’s permanent mission at the United Nations in New York, where he began a successful international career as a diplomat.

5. He joined the Commonwealth Secretariat as Assistant Director of International Affairs in 1966. He would later become a director. By 1977 he was elected deputy secretary general in charge of international affairs and the administration of the secretariat.

6. He was the third Secretary General of the Commonwealth from 1990 to 2000. He was passionate about the complete political and democratic transition in countries reeling from civil wars, coups and racial division. This made him the first African to hold such a high-ranking position in an intergovernmental organisation.

7. In 1983 Anyaoku left the Commonwealth briefly when the administration of President Shehu Shagari appointed him Minister of Foreign Affairs. His stint was cut short by the military takeover of the government by Major General Muhammadu Buhari the same year.

8. His role was significant in South Africa where he played a central part in overturning the rule of apartheid and establishing Nelson Mandela’s government of racial equality.

9. In 1982, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the Niger by the Federal Government.  He is a trustee and member of the board of many international bodies and has been conferred honorary doctorates by many world-class universities.