7 Nigerian Pioneers Who Made The Nation Proud
Nigeria is full of talented and gifted people. But do we really remember our cultural heritage? Legit.ng editors decided to remind you about some of the outstanding Nigerians who were first in their area.
Here are the 7 Nigerian pioneers:
1. Ahmet Ali Çelikten
He was the first black pilot in the aviation history. He was one of only two black pilots in the World War I. His grandmother came from Bornu (now Borno State in Nigeria) to the Ottoman Empire as a slave. Ahmet was born in 1883 in İzmir, in the Aidin Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. He aimed to become a naval sailor and entered the Naval Technical School named Haddehâne Mektebi (literally "School of the Blooming Mill") in 1904. In 1908, he graduated from the school as a First Lieutenant. Then he joined the aviation courses in the Naval Flight School (Deniz Tayyare Mektebi) that was formed at Yeşilköy on June 25, 1914.
2. Jonathan Adagogo Green
He was the first professional photographer of Nigerian origin. Green was the chief photographer for the British as they lay the groundwork for colonization of Nigeria. He also took pictures of his own Ijo peoples’ struggle to maintain control of their land and to preserve their cultural identity. While most of the British collections of his photographs are now in archives, Green’s photographs live on among the Ijo who continually reprint and reuse them to reconstruct and celebrate their cultural traditions.
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3. Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna
He was a Nigerian army major and high jumper. He became the first person from Africa to win a gold medal at an international sports event. He won the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. His winning mark and personal best of 6 ft 8 inches (2.03 m) was a games record and a British Empire record at the time. Emmanuel was an Igbo from Onitsha. Apart from sport achievements, he was also was a science graduate University College of Ibadan and became involved in politics, later joining the military.
4. Tesilimi Olawale "Teslim" Balogun
Balogun was the first African to qualify as a professional coach. He was a coach for Nigeria at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He played at both professional and international levels as a striker. The Teslim Balogun Stadium in the Nigerian city of Lagos is named in his honour. The Teslim Balogun Foundation was founded after his death to assist the families of Nigerian ex-international footballers who may have fallen on hard times.
5. Rosalind Balogun
She was a first Miss Nigeria to participate in the Miss World contest in 1967. There were four contestants from Africa: Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda.
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6. Wole Soyinka
He is a Nigerian playwright and poet. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be so honored. Soyinka has strongly criticised many Nigerian military dictators, especially late General Sanni Abacha, as well as other political tyrannies. Wole Soyinka is among contemporary Africa's greatest writers. He is also one of the continent's most imaginative advocates of native culture and of the humane social order it embodies.
7. Nnamdi Azikiwe
Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966, holding the presidency throughout the Nigerian First Republic. This man was one of the fundamentalists of modern Nigerian nationalism.