SWORD OF THE STORYTELLERS: A Celebration of Biographies in Nigeria (Part 2)

Continued from last week.

The generation of the nationalists who led Nigeria to independence continues to attract many books. There is the seminal work, A Right Honourable Gentleman – the Life and Times of Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa written by the British scholar, Trevor Clark.

There is also Ahmadu Bello by John Paden, another British scholar. Akinjide Osuntokun’s, Chief S.L. Akintola: His Life and Times, Alan Feinstein, African Revolutionary, The Life and Times of Nigeria’s Aminu Kano, Adekoyejo Majekodunmi’s My Lord What a Morning and Memoirs: Chief H.O. Davies, by Chief H.O. Davies are some of the books that open the vistas to the politics of the First Republic.

We also have the Fugitive Offender by Anthony Enahoro, The Trial of Obafemi Awolowo, by Lateef Jakande and My March Through Prison by Obafemi Awolowo as some of the biographical works written about the First Republic.

Other books on the First Republic and its leaders include, Power Broker: Sir Kashim Ibrahim, by Akinjide Osuntokun, Resilience in Leadership: Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro, by Olajire Olanlokun, My View of the Coin, A participant Accounts of the Politics of the First Republic, an autobiography of Chief Joseph Oduola Osuntokun, Power and Governance, the legacy of Dr Michael Okpara by Onyema Ugochukwu

Professor Saburi Biobaku two books, When We were Young and When We Were No Longer Young, gives us the insight of a bureaucrats and intellectual to the politics and sociology of Nigeria in the last decades of British rule and the post independence era. Simon Adebo, Nigeria’s first Permanent Representative at the United Nation, gave an account of his tour in Our International Years. Emeka Anyaoku, first African Secretary General of the Commonwealth gives an account of the enduring influence of the institution in his work, The Inside Story of the Modern Commonwealth.

Anyaoku’s biography, Eye of Fire, by Phyllis Johnson provides further insight into the institution that Anyaoku served for several decades. Another giant on the international scene, the first Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ECA, is the subject of Sanmi Ajiki’s A Rainbow in The Sky of Time: Adebayo Adedeji.

While many of the First Republic leaders wrote autobiographies, the Civil War era generated more memoirs. The man who opened the floodgate was General Olusegun Obasanjo, the war time commander of the Third Marine Commandoes Division who concluded the Civil War in 1970 when he received the surrender of the Biafran High Command.

Obasanjo’s My Command, has remained the touchstone book for the Nigerian War literature. Many authors among those who saw action during the Civil War or the preceding coups wrote about their experiences.

Among the authors are Alexander Madiebo’s The Nigerian Revolution and the Nigerian Civil War, Ralph Uwechue’s Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War and Adewale Ademoyega’s Why We Struck. Colonel Alabi Isama’s Tragedy of Victory provides a fresh insight to the Civil War and an alternative view to the pioneering work of Obasanjo’s My Command.

The politics of military participation in politics has attracted a lot of interests. Standing out is Obasanjo’s trilogy, My Watch, a thrilling memoir about his tour of duty from the Civil War era to his experience as an elected President. This is a follow-up to his Not My Will and the book, Nzeogwu.

In a class of its own is Ironside by Chuks Iloegbunam, a comprehensive look at the first coup and the 200 days reign and tragic end of Nigerian first military ruler, General J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi. It was the same period of national vicissitude that is captured in Peter Ajayi’s Fajuyi: His Last Days, a gripping narrative about the assassination of Lieutenant Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, the first military governor of the West and General Ironsi, Nigerian first military ruler who was visiting Ibadan at the time.

Major Debo Basorun’s Honour for Sale discusses the power play in the court of General Ibrahim Babangida, especially concerning the assassination of the first Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch, Dele Giwa.

In his The Military, Politics and Power in Nigeria: Ibrahim Babangida, Dan Agbese analytical book takes a more sympathetic view of military government. Joe Garba’s Diplomatic Soldiering, is the author’s memoir about his involvement in the coup that brought General Murtala Muhammed to power in 1975 and his subsequent service as the Nigerian Commissioner (Minister) for foreign affairs. In Gowon, Isawa Elaigwu renders an excellent account of General Gowon’s life history.

* Dare Babarinsa is a renowned Columnist with the Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria who crafted this piece for the BIOGRAPHICAL LEGACY & RESEARCH FOUNDATION; Publishers of Blerf’s WHO’S WHO IN NIGERIA (ONLINE) edited by nyaknno osso.

Read last week edition HERE

1 Comment
  1. Amb. Albert Omotayo, MFR 2 weeks ago

    This is a great work, not only because of the literary and historical value but also because of the moral and intellectual quality of those, who put this work together. It is all the more praiseworthy because it is coming in these days, when valour has, in the make-up of many Nigerians, become the rarest ingredient.

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