The fourth and fifth line of the Nigerian National Anthem says:
“The Labour Of Our Heroes Past
Shall Never Be In Vain.”
Unfortunately, the country has done its utmost best to echo just the opposite sentiment..
During the course of its history, Nigeria has had many notable personalities that are worth remembering and celebrating as their efforts during has greatly contributed to the position the country occupies in the comity of nations.
Many people who are national heroes of Nigeria are well known for their significant contribution in their relative fields. Their hard work along with feats in their chosen field has helped to put Nigeria on the map.
In other countries of the world, these people are held in high regard and more often than not become national treasures who citizens and public officials pay huge tributes for their contributions to the society.
In Nigeria, however, reverse seem to be the case. It has become a reoccurring national bad habit to have selective amnesia when it comes to honouring those who made the country proud during their lifetime. Such people are not usually given the kind of recognition they deserve nor is their legacy remembered in any manner.
The only people who get any kind of recognition are those who mostly held the highest public office in the land during their time. No wonder the only national heroes Nigeria celebrates are the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, all of which were political leaders during their time.
Whereas the contributions of the likes of Herbert Macaulay, Samuel Oparaji, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chinua Achebe, Fumilayo Ransome-Kuti, Taiwo Akinkunmi, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Flora Nwapa, Gani Fawehinmi, Margaret Ekpo, Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Ladi Kwali, Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh, to mention a few are mostly ignored in the scheme of things.
Flora Nwanzuruahu Nwapa was a great novelist during her life time who many have described as the mother of modern African literature. Wikipedia described Nwapa thus:
“Nwapa is known for her governmental work in reconstruction after the Biafran War. In particular she worked with orphans and refugees who were displaced during the war. Further she worked as a publisher of African literature and promoted women in African society. She was one of the first African women publishers when she founded Tana Press in the 1970s.”
Her novel Efuru is a classic and a literature text used by several generations of Nigerian students for examinations like WAEC, JAMB and NECO. Apart from Efuru, Nwapa wrote other great books like Idu, Never Again, One is Enough and Women Are Different. She equally had poems, short stories and children books to her litany of works.
She was also the first female Commissioner of Health and Social Welfare of the old East Central State.
For all her achievements and contributions however, Flora Nwapa has largely gone uncelebrated by the nation. She is even less regarded in literary circles when compared to her male contemporaries such as Achebe, Wole Soyinka and John Pepper Clark.
Except for recently when writer and cultural enthusiat Onyeka Nwelue, through his House of Nwapa documentary, immortalized her, much has not been done by the Nigerian government or people who are not family members to immortalize this great woman.
Unlike the Nigerian government however, Google used the 86th posthumous birthday of the late novelist to celebrate her with a doodle.
Doodles are changes made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.
Nwapa’s work such have a great influence on great writers as Chimamanda Adichie. Adichie who was once quoted as saying that she owes her success as a writer to Nwapa’s pioneering work:
“If Chinua Achebe and Flora Nwapa and Chukwuemeka Ike had not written the books they did, when they did, and how they did, I would perhaps not have had the emotional courage to write my own books.”
Nwapa died of pneumonia on October 16 1993. But she lives on in our hearts.
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