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Since Nigeria gained independence from the British in 1960, leading figures like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Ahmadu Bello amongst others have been celebrated as freedom fighters and dominated the Nigerian mainstream history. However, there are various unsung heroes of Nigeria’s independence – the youths. There have been opinions that the Nigerian youth were nowhere to be found during the struggle for independence. This claim is at best an ignorant one. In the light of the #EndSARS movement that occurred between 10th and 20th October 2020, where millions of youths protested against the highhandedness and corruption of the SARS unit of the Nigerian Police Force among other sociopolitical problems. It is light of this; this article will examine how the youths played a vital role in the struggle for independence through the Zikist Movement.
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On February 16, 1946, a group of young men took an oath that they would never get married until Nigeria became independent from the United Kingdom. To many, this vow might look harsh, fierce, and at best foolish. One of those young men was a member of the Zikist Movement, a militant wing of the Nigeria Council of Nigerians and Cameroons (NCNC), a party formed by the detribalized Nnamdi Azikiwe. The name “Zikist” was coined from the founder’s name, “Azikiwe”. By definition, a Zikist subscribes to the ideology of Nnamdi Azikiwe. For members of Zikist or those who subscribed to Zikism, the influential personality of Nnamdi Azikiwe loomed large in their imaginations. They were moved by his rhetoric, philosophy, oratory, and gesticulations. Among the influential members of the Movement were Kola Balogun, Raji Abdallah, K. O. Mbadiwe, and Nwafor Orizu. 
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The first president of the Zikist Movement was Kola Balogun. Kola Balogun was born in 1922 at Otan-Aiyegbaju, in present-day Osun State to a trader. He schooled in Ebutte Metta, Lagos, as well as in Ibadan, Oyo State. He later worked for United African Company (UAC) and a newspaper, the Nigerian Advocate, between 1944 and 1948. He was fired from the Advocate due to his involvement with the Zikist Movement. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the founder of Nigeria’s leading newspaper in the 1940s and 50s, the West African Pilot, took him under his wing as a columnist. Balogun joined mainstream politics by being a member of the NCNC during this period.
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Zikist Movement was the brainchild of Balogun. According to him, the NCNC was taking a gentle-manly approach towards seeking Nigeria’s independence. This made him toe the line of open aggression with colonial authorities. In February 1946, Balogun invited 20 young men to Lagos to discuss national issues. It was in this meeting that 12 out of the 20 invitees who responded to the invitation formed the Zikist Movement. They became the pioneer members of the Zikist Movement, the most radical movement at the time. He later relocated to London where he studied Law and graduated in 1951. Featured Image Source: The Guardian Nigeria News
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This article was first published on 25th May 2022

nnaemeka-emmanuel

Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.


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