5 Times Nigerians Made Us Proud
Watching the movie Hidden Figures put into perspective the effort of Africans across the diaspora going unnoticed. This week, we acknowledge the Nigerians who have put us one step ahead and given us butterflies in our stomachs like the first time man landed on the moon.
Science is the future and Phillip Emeagwali can easily be termed a time traveller with his stellar contribution to the computer age as we know it. Emeagwali received the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer, his method involved each microprocessor communicating with six neighbours. In a survey by New African Magazine, he was voted the “35th greatest African and greatest African scientist of all time” and he is a recurrent feature of Black History Month articles in the popular press.
She became a household name as a beauty queen and the name “Agbani” in recent times is used as a nickname for models or beauty queen prospects in Nigeria. In 2001, she won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria title and few months later as a contestant at Miss Universe, became the first Nigerian to be placed among the top ten semi-finalists, finishing seventh overall. She was the only one to wear a modest one piece as opposed to a bikini during the swimsuit competition. In November that year, Darego went on to become the first Sub-Saharan African woman and only Nigerian to win the Miss World title.
Stephen Okechukwu Keshi
An icon in the football industry in Africa, “Big Boss” as he was popularly known led a remarkable life in his achievements as a player, manager and coach. He led Nigeria to win the 1994 African Cup of Nations as a captain. He is the first and only Nigerian coach to win the African Cup of Nations and this led him to being the second man to win the African Cup of Nations both as a player and as a coach. Prior to his deal with the Super Eagles as a coach, Keshi led Togo to their first ever World Cup in 2006. He made Nigeria the first country to achieve an African Cup of Nations trophy and World Cup qualification at the same time in 2013. This made him the first African coach to successfully qualify two African nations (Nigeria and Togo) to the World Cup 2014 and 2006 respectively.
16 year old Udotong recently embarked on a quest to build a nuclear fusor which he hopes will inspire a cleaner and environment friendly future for all. He created a GoFundMe page to raise $1500 for supplies and has exceeded the amount in just a month. His curiosity was sparked by the topic of nuclear energy in his chemistry class. Udotong was accepted into the Yale Young Global Scholar Program. This made him realise that he will be the first black student to build a nuclear reactor which is a significant step forward to taking more serious action towards adopting alterative energy sources.
The Nigerian former athlete who specialised in track and field sports especially in the 100m, 200m and long jump sector achieved fame in her career as she became the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and to date remains Nigeria’s only individual Olympic gold medalist. Ajunwa started out as a footballer for the Nigerian women’s team and was a member of The Falcons during the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, but was seldomly utilised.
Her decision to veer into sports is one Ajunwa is proud of as she says, “I’ve not regretted the decision because I’ve made my mark in athletics”. After setting a record for herself in sports, she is still paying her duty to country as a divisional police officer with the Nigerian Police Force.