Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu: History, Career, and Death

He was a genius in many areas than most men and was also an astonishing soldier and leader. His prognostications were thirty years ahead of their time. His speeches were awe-inspiring and his remarkable ideas depicted great mind at work. His talent was amazing such as his drive was phenomenal, he was Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.


Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was born on November 4, 1933, in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria. His father,  Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu was one of the wealthiest businessmen in  South- Eastern Nigeria.  As a result, ‘Emeka’ as he was fondly called had the privilege to attend the best schools in the world. Emeka Ojukwu started his secondary school education at CMS Grammar School, Lagos in 1943 aged 10. He later transferred to King’s College, Lagos in 1944 where he was involved in a controversy leading to brief detention for assaulting a white British colonial teacher who humiliated a black woman. In 1952, Odumegwu Ojukwu was admitted to Oxford University.

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He majored in history, graduating in 1955 with honors. As an undergraduate, Odumegwu Ojukwu continued to pursue his love of athletics while developing outside interests in drama and journalism. He served as a leader in the Oxford branch of the West African Students Union during this time. In addition, he was known for his flashy sports cars, which he often drove at high speeds between Oxford and London. It was at Oxford that he met a female law student named Njideka; she eventually became his wife.

This event generated widespread coverage in local newspapers. To allow the scandal to die down, Emeka was sent away to study in Britain at the age of 13. He completed his secondary school at Epsom College and moved on to Lincoln College, Oxford Univerity where he earned a bachelor’s degree in modern history. He returned to colonial Nigerian in 1956.  He was the presidential candidate of APGA in the 2003 presidential elections.  He remained in his primary residence in Enugu in his later days.


Emeka Ojukwu joined the civil service in Eastern Nigeria as an Administrative officer at Udi, in present-day Enugu State against his father’s wishes. In 1957, within months of working in the civil service, he joined the army. As one of the few graduates in the military, Ojukwu rose quickly in the ranks. He came into national prominence upon his appointment as military governor in 1966 and his actions then. During the early years of Nigerian Independence, political turmoil, riots, and ethnic rivalries culminated into a civil war in the latter half of the 1960s. Igbos were murdered in mass during the chaos, and more than a million survivors fled back to their tribal area in Eastern Nigeria. As the governor of the region, he tried to strengthen the bargaining power of the Igbos. Significantly, the failure of Yakubu Gowon to honor the Aburi Peace accord eventually lead to the East declaring the Sovereign state of Biafra.


On 26 November 2011, Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu died in the United Kingdom after a brief illness, aged 78. The Nigerian army gave him the highest military accolade and conducted funeral parade for him in Abuja, Nigeria on 27 February the day his body was flown back to Nigeria from London before his burial on Friday, 2 March 2012. He was buried in a newly built mausoleum in his compound at Nnewi. Before his final internment, he had about the most unique and elaborate weeklong funeral ceremonies in Nigeria besides Chief Obafemi Awolowo, whereby his body was carried around the five Eastern states, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, including the nation’s capital, Abuja. Memorial services and public events were also held in his honor in several places across Nigeria, including Lagos and Niger state his birthplace. the former head of state “Chief Olusegun Obasanjo expressed sadness at the death of Odemegwu Ojukwu.

Author: BF

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