There are eight men who have not only made the Yoruba tribe proud but the whole of Nigeria. These eight have played major roles in Nigeria and would forever be respected by every Nigerian till the end of time. Indeed, the Yoruba tribe has greatly influenced this country and has brought honour to its name. We hope that the present generation of the Yoruba people will produce people like these ones that will not only make the tribe proud but Nigeria as a whole.
Who are these eight men that have influenced Nigeria? They are:
- CHIEF OBAFEMI JEREMIAH AWOLOWO (GCFR)
History has it that the nationalist and statesman played a unique role in the modernization of Nigeria. There is no how you would speak of Nigeria’s independence and democracy without mentioning this great man. He contributed immensely to the progress of the country. He is the first non-president in the history of Nigeria with the title ‘Grand Commander of the Federal Republic. He is referred to as ‘the president Nigeria never had’. The vice president of today; Prof. Yemi Osinbajo happens to be the great man’s son. He was born on March 6, 1909 and died on May 9, 1987
He established the first television station in Africa; Nigeria Television Authority.
He established the first stadium in Africa; Liberty Stadium located in Ibadan.
He erected the first skyscraper in Africa; Cocoa House which remains the tallest in Ibadan.
He named Nigeria’s currency ‘Naira’.
He was the first man to be named the Leader of the Yoruba people (Asiwaju Omo Oodua).
He founded the oldest private Nigerian newspaper; Nigerian Tribune.
He was the first premier of the Western Region.
- CHIEF SAMUEL LADOKE AKINTOLA
The Yoruba man was a Nigerian lawyer, politician, orator, and aristocrat who also contributed to the modernization of Nigeria. He was a respectable man who was honoured with the position, Oloye Aare Ona Kakanfo XIII. Unfortunately, on the day of Nigeria’s first military coup, he got assassinated. The Oyo State University (now Ladoke Akintola University of Technology) was named after him. He was the first Nigerian to own a bullet proof car. He was born on July 6, 1910 and died on January 15, 1966.
He was the first man to acquire a bullet-proof car in Nigeria.
He was the second premier of the Western Region.
He contributed immensely to the modernization of Nigeria.
- MOST REVEREND SAMUEL AJAYI CROWTHER
The Most Reverend was a Yoruba linguist and the first African Anglican bishop in Nigeria who contributed immensely to the establishment of Christianity in Nigeria. He was taken into slavery when he was just 12 years old and returned years later after he was freed during the ban against slave trade. Although Christianity was introduced to Nigeria by the Portuguese who could not establish the religion due to their interest in slave trade, he took it upon himself to making sure the religion had a firm base in the country. He was born in the year 1809 and died on December 31, 1891.
He translated the Bible into Yoruba.
He was the first African and Nigerian to be ordained as a Bishop.
He made sure Christianity had a strong base in Nigeria.
- HERBERT MACAULAY
The grandson of Samuel Ajayi Crowther is considered the founder of Nigeria. He was a Nigerian surveyor, engineer, politician, journalist, architect, and musician. He formed Nigeria’s first political party, Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). He also co-founded and became the president of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons in an attempt to bring together Nigerians to demand independence. He was born on November 14, 1864 and died on May 7, 1946
He was one of the few who fought for the independence of Nigeria.
He formed the first political party in Nigeria.
He founded the CMS Grammar School, one of the most influential secondary schools in Nigeria.
He was the first Nigerian Civil Engineer.
- MOSHOOD KASHIMAWO ABIOLA (GCFR)
The Nigerian business man was also a politician, publisher, and aristocrat. His support for Islam earned him so much recognition in the Northern region of Nigeria. Although he was born into a poor family, he was successful through hard work and resilience. He won the June 12, 1993 presidential electionss although it was not officially declared by the National Electoral Commission (NEC). He was never declared winner as Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election. He was the Aare Ona Kankafo XIV. Nigeria’s democracy day was also changed to June 12 in his honour to commemorate the day Nigeria had its first fairest and freest election. He was awarded the GCFR posthumously on June 12, 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari, making him the second and last non-president awarded the title. He was born on August 24, 1937 and was assassinated on July 7, 1998.
June 12 was declared Nigeria’s democracy day in his honour.
He won Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election.
He was bestowed with the golden key to the city of Washington, D.C. in 1987.
- PROF. WOLE SOYINKA
The renowned writer is a Nigerian poet, playwright, and essayist. There is no doubt that this legend is a blessing to Nigeria. He is also an activist who would not keep quiet when things are being done in the wrong way. He has influenced Nigeria literature and today he is a mentor to many Nigerian and other African writers. He has written many fictional and non-fictional books. He was awarded three international prizes in 1983, 1986, and 2017. He escaped from Sani Abacha on a motorcycle and had gone to jail for two years during the reign of General Yakubu Gowon. He was born on July 13, 1934.
He is a strong critic of successive governments in Nigeria.
He is one of the most recognized professors in the world today.
He was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievements.
He was the first African to be awarded the Noble Prize in Literature in 1986.
He was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize in in the ‘Special Category’.
- RASHIDI YEKINI
The football legend was born in Kaduna and was a professional footballer for more than two decades. He played for Nigeria and Victoria de Setubal in Portugal. He remains the Nigerian footballer with the highest goals which is 37. He was born on October 23, 1963 and died on May 4, 2012.
He remains the only Nigerian football player with the highest number of international goals.
He scored Nigeria’s first goal in a World Cup
His image where he held the net, celebrating Nigeria’s first World Cup goal has become an iconic image of the World Cup.
He helped Nigeria win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations.
He was the best player of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
- ANTHONY OLUWAFEMI JOSHUA
The Nigerian-British professional boxer is a successful boxer who made his first debut in 2013. He is a two-time heavyweight champion. He held the IBO, WBO, IBF, and WBA titles between 2016 and 2019. He has many awards to his name both locally and internationally. He was born on October 15, 1989.
He has won 23 fights out of 24.
He is ranked the world’s second best active heavyweight.
He has won eight international titles.
Note: These are just few out of the many Yoruba men that have made amazing and unforgettable contributions to the progress of Nigeria…
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