Nwafor Orizu

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Nwafor Orizu (1920) was a Nigerian statesman, educator and businessman who was senate president during the Nigerian first republic. He was the acting president who handed power over to the military government on January 16, 1966 after an abortive coup putsch. Prior to becoming a senator, he wrote a book in 1944 where he coined the term Zikism, an idealistic and positive action term that tried to differentiate itself from the regionalism, tribalism and gradualism of the pre-liberation politics.


Early life and education

Orizu was born to the family of the then Obi of Nnewi, Ezeugbonyamba Orizu. He had his education at C.M.S. School, Otolo Nnewi and the Onitsha Central School. Through self study, he earned a Cambridge School Certificate and later left for America along with 12 students on a scholarship supported by Azikiwe, he had earlier attended Achimota College in Ghana. He studied at Lincoln University, Ohio State University and earned a masters from Columbia University. While studying at Columbia, he was a co-founder of the African Students Association of North America which was started at the International House of the University. The association had Kwame Nkrumah as a member and later president, John Karefa Smart, k.O. Madiwe and I.U. Akpabio. He was also an associate editor of the Negro Digest and the Pittsburgh Courier. Orizu started an organization called the American Council on African Education which was designed to be a partnership on increasing understanding between Africa and America through the education of African students in America and sponsorship of scholarships for African students. Among the members of the advisory board was Charles Seymour the president of Yale.

In 1944, he published 'Without Bitterness', a book that covers African history, a blueprint for independence for African nations and discussions about Zikism. He devoted a section to Zikism, a social philosophy and pragmatic approach coined from Nnamdi Azikiwe's name, the approach stressed education, democracy, African unity and cooperation with European rulers to the extent it benefits Africans.

He returned to Nigeria in 1945 though, he later spent about 18 months in America where he received a degree from Lane University. In 1950, he founded a secondary school in Nnewi.

Career in politics

Apart from penning the book, 'Without Bitterness', Nwafor became known in Nigeria for his support of the mine workers in 1949 during the Enugu massacre which led to his house arrest for 14 days. A few years later, he was elected to the Eastern House of Assembly where he was subsequently nominated to the Federal House of Representatives, at various points in time, he served as the chief whip of the NCNC while serving at both houses. At the onset of independence, he was nominated to become a senator and was later the senate president in 1964.

During the second republic, he was a member of the National Party of Nigeria as an outside participant.

Selected works

  • Without Bitterness: Western Nations in Post-war Africa
  • Man's Unconquerable Mind. 1986. ISBN 9781660430
  • Insight Into Nigeria: The Shehu Shagari Era. 1983. ISBN 9781673842
  • Horizontal Education
  • The Leadership We Want
  • Zikism: An African Philosophy


  • (1)Ricahrd Sklar. Nigerian Political Parties:Power in an Emergent African Nation. p 70.