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The Philosopher-King as Humanist: The Poetry of Nnamdi Azikiwe

J. O. J. Nwachukwu-Agbada


Zik, as Nnamdi Azikiwe was popularly known, was Nigeria’s ceremonial president at independence. He was a man of many parts: sprinter, boxer, orator, journalist, statesman, thinker, author, sociologist, poet and publicist. He was associated with wisdom and intelligence and was so presented in not a few myths which centered around his person in the 1940s and ‘50s. His two volumes of poetry – Meditations and Civil War Soliloquies – were published in 1977 although their composition spanned from 1921 to 1976, totaling 287 poems! Thus if we dismiss his poetry for lacking in artistic depth, we cannot ignore the poet on account of his literary fecundity and his poise as a putative philosopher-king keen to flaunt his humanist credentials. His views, notions, beliefs and experiences as adumbrated in his teeming verse are encapsulated in his celebration of self-respect and honor, sincerity, diligence, genuine friendship, service and selflessness, love for fellow human being and for nature. Azikiwe’s personality was built around a defense of certain principles which he had embraced as a result of his exposure to American culture and education with its rich history of struggle against all forms of evil, including slavery and racial discrimination.


Composition; Artistic depth; Philosopher-King; Humanist; Credentials; Beliefs; Personality

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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