Making Nigerian history popular



Book review


Title: Nigeria in 101 Headlines

Author: Ola Opesan

Publisher: Ronu Books, London, 2015

No of pages: 206

Reviewer: Ada Anioji


A country is its people, its issues, its stories, its history. In Nigeria in 101 Headlines, Ola Opesan sets out to tell the Nigerian story.

Clearly not a very easy task to undertake, it is however to the author’s credit that he goes about his assignment with diligence and candour.

Fidelity to research makes the job easy but there is more than that: the author is an assiduous story teller, an invidious investigator and a determined nation-builder.

So what stories does he pick on to represent the Nigerian century? It is a rich assortment of tales, some high, some low, some radical, some conservative, some jocular, some mournful.

There are stories that chronicle the making of Nigeria, the naming of the country, early stirrings of nationalism, popular national uprisings and the coming of Independence. Others are on the introduction of Free Education, the collapse of the First Republic, the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, the return of democracy and the eventual achievement of inter-party political power transition in 2015.

On the personality front, there are stories on historic personalities like Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Dick Tiger, Hogan “Kid” Bassey, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Wole Soyinka, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Murtala Muhammed, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Agbani Darego, Victoria and Yakubu Gowon, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, late Sam Okwaraji and Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

Some non-Nigerians that were caught in the news-making saga of Nigeria are also featured. They include Queen Elizabeth, Pope John Paul, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Jimmy Carter.

This book would indeed make a good movie, a documentary in the best traditions of BBC 4. But that would be a most expensive production, which Nollywood does not have the best record for at the moment.

Clearly the outpourings of a consummate scholar and a most intrepid nationalist, ‘Opesan’s passion for education reportedly stems from his natural curiosity and insatiable appetite for learning. He trained as a secondary school Maths teacher (PGCE) after a first degree in Business Studies (Marketing) and Masters in Mass Communications from the University of Leicester.

Having worked several jobs before joining the teaching profession, Opesan took on departmental responsibility within his first year of teaching. Soon after changing schools he became the Head of Maths at George Mitchell school, London. He later took on higher school responsibilities as an Assistant Head teacher in charge of Assessment and Reporting.

In 2007, Opesan became the founding Principal of Meadow Hall College, Lekki, Lagos. During this time, in addition to his direct College responsibility, he got further engagement in relation to the Infant School and Junior School at Meadow Hall with his subsequent designation as Education Director.

A highly sought-after trainer in the field of education, he has worked with many educational consultancies, such as Meadow Hall Consult, School Run and the British Education Consultants, BEC. Also, he has been privileged to facilitate seminars in renowned institutions such as the University of Lagos and Cambridge University, England as well as in other engagements at Abuja, Warri and Port Harcourt.

Prior to returning to full-time work at Meadow Hall as the Head of School, with an oversight of the Lekki site and the new site in Ikoyi, Opesan spent two years working with James Hope College, Agbor, Delta State and the Association of International School Educators of Nigeria, AISEN. A keen sportsman, and a prodigious writer, he is blessed with two children.




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