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“Obafemi Awolowo was Greater than Nelson Mandela” – Poet/Writer Odia Ofeimun’s Statement is Trending



Obafemi Awolowo & Nelson Mandela - January 2014 - BellaNaija

It’s time for Let’s Talk About It!

Nigerian poet/writer Odia Ofeimun has made a startling statement that Nigerians are buzzing about. It involves late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and late South African human rights activist Nelson Mandela.

In an interview with Sahara TV which was recently uploaded on Youtube, the Edo-state born social critic rated that the late Nigerian politician above the South African legend; stating that although “Mandela was good for the liberation” of his people, Awolowo made more impact in the lives of many Nigerians.

He described the processes of leading to independence in both countries by the leaders followed the exact same pattern.

Read Odia Ofeimun’s statement;

“I am too much of an Awolowo man not to see that the process of moving into independence in South Africa and in Nigeria followed exactly the same pattern. It was based on a negotiated settlement. The liberation struggle did not create the end of apartheid. It was a negotiation and Nigerians negotiated exactly the way Mandela negotiated.

You can hype it if you like, but the pattern was exactly the same. You move from one meeting to the other, discussing politics and economics, and they successfully convinced Mandela to buy the pig in a poke of an economy and they also successfully succeeded in convincing Nigerians to buy the pig in a poke of an economy.

The only man in Nigeria, who stood up against it, was (Obafemi) Awolowo. He was quickly jailed and all his men scattered across the prisons in Nigeria. Some driven abroad and the educational system that he had put in place was smashed.”


  1. madman

    January 2, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Sick, absurd, useless, unproductive conversation to be having in this new year.

    • Rick

      January 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      All I want to know is where exactly he claimed Awo was “greater” because that is conspicuously absent from the quote.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      January 2, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Brother Rick, that makes two of us…

  2. new gurl

    January 2, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Mandela na hero.. Obafemi na hero! Shikena.. No lele

  3. Will

    January 2, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Awolowo that was sent to jail for 9 years for misappropriating public funds for politics… Pleaseeeeeeeeee! He is not in Mandela’s class. No movies about him… folks hardly know him beyond, Nigeria & Africa. #Nextstory!

    • sam

      January 3, 2014 at 2:09 am

      Go get a life Awo was jailed for alleged treason….

    • Ola

      January 28, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      This is not correct. He went to jail, but NOT for “misappropriating public funds” I can get the judgment for you, if you are interested in facts.

  4. Anon

    January 2, 2014 at 11:48 am

    How can you compare a freedom fighter to a regional (not nation) builder? Plus, different circumstances in their paths as well.

  5. Mama Mia!!!

    January 2, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Mcheeeeeew, please while you are at it with the comparisms why not compare him to Martin Luther King Jnr as well as Mahatma Gandhi. Joker of the Year! By the way Awolowo was a snake he deceived the Igbos and played over Ojokwu…

  6. Iris

    January 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    If it was simply about moving South Africa towards independence and away from apartheid (the psychological impact of which was way worse than colonialism to begin with), we would be honouring many more South African liberation fighters the way we did Mandela. Mandela set an amazing example to Africans that is yet to be replicated. He endured prison, came out and did not seek revenge. He called for unity and did not incite tribalism by favouring his tribe. He did not seek revenge against the people who completely bastardized the psyche of his people for years and years. Black and brown South Africans could not farm on fertile land, migrant workers forced to find a better life in the city could not bring their families into the cities and lived in deplorable hostels and were paid close to nothing. There were adequate grounds to almost justify that a white South African could never be in a meaningful government position again, but he didn’t do it. If he wants to say Awolowo did great things for Nigeria by working towards independence, he can, but there’s no need to compare both figures. He can speak for himself but not presume to speak for Nigerians. Plus honestly, it’s hard to be excited about Nigeria with all the crap that came almost imediately after independence

  7. ms lala

    January 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Don’t get me wrong Pa Awolowo had good intentions but where is the impact…like really please he should list down or someone should list down the legacies he left behind that we Nigerians both from his generation and the present are enjoying..Madiba was the human face that is usually needed for anycause…that moment you place a face on an issue people become aware of it…spent decades for a one Nigerian who died for a cause that Nigerians are still remembering…Lets not even get started with the “impact” Awolowo left during the Biafran War..cutting of food supply. He had great intentions for Nigerians but somehow never achieved those goals.

    • Prince

      January 2, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      i dont want to get you wrong. the first tv in africa, radio station and stadium. the tallest building at that time in nigeria. I do not need to talk about free education and health in the western region. He managed the economy of nigeria in the time of war. please compare mandela all the above. mandela was just a hype of the western world. he is a stooge of the west to establish inequalities among blacks and white in SA. Yes he forgave the whites which was good. has he addressed the inequalities that has never changed. mugabe tried it and he is suffering for it now. mandela turned blind eyes to what mugabe confronted.

    • Iris

      January 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      I’m glad you know it was the western region that was focused on. This guy should then say that Awolowo had a greater impact on western Nigeria and not Nigerians as a whole. Don’t get it twisted. Besides, is it tallest building we will survive on?

    • ILoveGenevieve

      January 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      A man that advised the Nigerian government to starve people in war which led to the eventual death of millions of Nigerians is greater than Mandela? A man that instituted a one pound policy on people who lost everything they’ve built is ever called great? Now I’m angry all over again ….just take off with your ignorant fellows least I unleash tumultuous venom on your being.

    • Yaw

      January 2, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      You are blessed with ignorance and may ignorance guide you in all you do in life. Happy New Year!

    • Rotimi Lawanson

      January 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Only a mad person will compare Awolowo and Mandela. This is the problem with Nigerians. Always shooting unrealistically. Awolowo may have been great for a section of the country but he was absolutely a divisive and tribalistic leader in the country. He is no Mandela and can never be compared to Mandela in any way. He isn’t even the greatest. Nigerian if ever there was any.Why do we delude ourselves. Why do some of our people choose to make us in Nigeria the laughing stock with such moronic statements. If we as Yorubas continue with this type of attitude we will get nowhere. I pray that the demon of tribalism that has gripped so many of us will set us free before it is too late.

  8. ILoveGenevieve

    January 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Well, this came out rather terrible or laughable, didn’t it?

  9. Gistyinka Blog

    January 2, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    The real Awo’s … If baba is alive till now Nigeria could have being a great nation for everybody in the world..

    • Anon

      January 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      My prayer for you this year, is to improve on your English. What you typed is redundant as far as I’m concerned. What would he have done? Zilch! He would have been part and parcel of the rot we still have today.

    • P

      January 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm


    • Idak

      January 2, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      If my aunty had balls she would have been my uncle.
      Leave all that if,was he meant to live forever? His products that are alive are they any better?

  10. whocares

    January 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    sigh.. i am all for patriotism, but to come out and try to pit two exceptional individuals against each other in a bid to prove the greatest? or if that is not his goal, what is the point of his comparison? or has BN simply taken this out of context? is he publicity he wants, or does he derive pleasure from being contentious? I hate stupid people. This is a stupid post and comparison. They were both great men who tried to build their nations. Celebrate them and leave it at that. If Awolowo is greater nko? and so? kmft. Don’t ruin my new year sanctity and contentment abeg.

  11. Tee

    January 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Why does it have to come to this,silent tribal war.My people know the tribe that can’t stand them in Naija,still they fight the one that accomodate them the most using media.You don’t find a successful Igbo man without one or two connections with a yoruba man.but no they would rather fight them and ask for apology in the sligtest trivial issues.My fellow Igbos pls ask yourself why they killed Sardaba from the North and how a yoruba man Adekunle Fajuyi was killed trying to hide an igbo man in his house before thowing your tantrums like illiterates,pls go and research more and stop believing all what they told you growing up.I bet some of you still believe that it is bad omen if rain falls on your wedding day.The North don’t attack us as much as we do to yoruba,still northereners can’t stand us.As for the writer I bet to differ

    • Naijatalk

      January 2, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      why should they be “accommodated” in their own country? You make it seem as if they should be happy that they are “accommodated” by said tribe. By the way you are the only one who has brought the issue of tribe here. People were expressing their sentiments that Awolowo concentrated his efforts on one part of the nation not the entire country. Shikena

    • Anon

      January 3, 2014 at 1:04 am

      You sounded like an illiterate with your typed English. Log, speck and eye.

  12. Aniekeme Bassey

    January 2, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    It’s amazing and senseless for anyone to say that Awo was greater than Mandiba.I advise him to go read the autobiographies of the two personalities in question. Maybe that will give him enough points to argue the comparison.Did Awo loose his family bc of Nigeria; did Awo loose the prime stage of his life bc of Nigeria; how many yrs did Awo go to jail bc of Nigeria; how many movies have been acted to depict Awo; how many songs have been written to depict Awo; How many heads of states attended Awo’s burial; did the world economy come to a stand stil for one second bc of Awo’s death…………..? Too many questions than answers. …..endless list.Madiba! Madiba!! Madiba!!! Nkosi sike lele Africa!!!

    • d

      January 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      it’s Madiba

  13. didi

    January 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    January 2nd, satanic demons sent to piss u off with such foolish topic. Greater than mandela indeed, you ppl r full of yourself. Go take your medication and stop disrespecting Mandela. #ByeFelicia

  14. Joni Davi

    January 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    There is no basis for comparison.QED!

  15. Peter pan

    January 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    rubbish talk. how can you compare mandela and awo? first of all, awolowo was a man that fought for yoruba and not nigeria as a whole. and d dude talking about tallest building…seriously? tallest building?? is that what your children eat from? stadium? what has become of that stadium today? Awolowo was a snitch and he betrayed nigeria, because i am of the opinion thaT things would have been a lot better if everyone went their seperate ways. on the other side, Mandela was a hero, he was the symbol of humility and forgiveness. im sure if it was awolowo that went to jail for 27years, and came out to become president, he would have killed all d people that allowed him to be taken to the jail in the first place, then all the white people that lived in s/a would have heard wehnn!!!!….mr rubbish writer i think you are just searching for audience but my friend your talk is smelling. go and write your will…lol

  16. nene

    January 2, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    says who? awolowo was a tribalist. who was he fighting? his own people (nigerians), especially anyone who wasn’t yoruba. mandela fought for freedom, i don’t know what awolowo was fighting for.

  17. Banji olatomirin

    January 2, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    He’s Obviously an Awoist!!!

  18. Idak

    January 2, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Mandela is a hero but no saint.
    It was under his watch that the present wave of corruption enveloping South Africa under shower-head began to grow. Now it is bearing rotten fruit.
    Discerning minds remember how Bantu Holomisa was chased out of the coalition and the Sarafina/Dlamini-Zuma episode cannot be easily washed away. In addition, what decisive step did he take while Mugabe his next door neighbour was turning a once excellent country into a laughing stock?
    The present day canonization and ssubsequent beatification of fallible hero is simply a classic case of brand management and mass media orgasm.
    As for Awolowo, that is a topic for another day.

  19. molarah

    January 2, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Comparing the legacies of two dead men – like really?

    I believe we have given this man his solicited 2-mins of fame – can we move on now?

  20. Kpomo Men

    January 3, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Haha very soon another idiot will compare Orji Uzo Kalu to Mandela. Smh for Nigeria!

  21. Stephanie

    January 3, 2014 at 2:06 am

    publicity stunt! He sha wants us to talk

  22. Msunderstood

    January 3, 2014 at 6:38 am

    I love Awolowo.

  23. love

    January 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    As a south african find this statement very stupid and useless,for whoever their comparing Mandela to.Who is obafemi by the way?Mandela was not only an Activist for aouth africans but the whole world dats why is he is known globally

    • SOLO ACT

      January 27, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      mandela was an ACTIVISt for ONLY SOUTH africans. west
      africans were not suffering white occupation and forced white
      leadership in the 70’80’or early 90’s most of us had gotten our
      independence from the birts and french by then. but we appreciate
      what he did for his people that are our fellow africans.

  24. Kay

    January 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    People are missing Ofeimun’s point. He is saying Awo is the only one who resisted neo-colonialism, something even Mandela agreed to (as SA inequality shows). This is a case of whether you value resistance to neocolonialism or you value the “heroic” public personality of Mandela.

    • Anon

      January 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Awo resisted neo-colonialism? SMH!

  25. peter dele ojo

    January 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    it is senseless and uncalled for to be discussing about the
    greater between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Nelson Mandela. First and
    foremost, Awolowo was a Nigerian and Mandela was South African. How
    can we be fighting greater among the great African. Awolowo was
    born in 1909 and mandela was born in 1918. Why should the igbos who
    do not know their root should be talking, some of them who are
    never born during the time of awolowo be talking about awolowo.
    Awolowo was a great visionary leader who cannot compare to anyone
    in Nigeria before and after his death. Awolowo was a premier region
    leader who used the money to save some people’s life, he gave us
    free education where many of the ibo people enjoy from it, the
    tallest building in africa, good roads which he did in the forties
    is part of awolowo achievements, the first television in africa was
    from awolowo, i don’t think any of Nigerian leaders have achieved
    what awolowo success, Mandela from South Africa he fought against
    apartheid he was a freedom fighter and stood for freedom of his
    people and do not comprises. So why are we fighting greater between
    the great africans who fought one way or the other to free their
    people. Those who refer awolowo as a tribalist and are curse people
    even their parents in one way or the other enjoy the success of
    chief obafemi awolowo.

    • replyingsenselesstalk

      January 3, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      You are the one who doesn’t know your roots since you are so ignorant that you cannot make a point without insulting others. You are a factor in why Nigerians cannot seem to get along.

  26. replyingsenselesstalk

    January 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    By the way you ‘re referring to yourself and your
    generation as cursed.

  27. peter dele ojo

    January 3, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I sympathise with those who contribute to this very sensitive matter. And most of those who contributes, I will put their age between 25-30 years. Chief Obafemi Awolowo died at the age of 78 in 1987 which most of them are their in their little age by that time or mostly they are not born by the time chief Awolowo died, how can a foolish minded person(s) will now compare chief obafemi awolowo who have been in the news in the 40’s of whom their parents are not been born by that time or their in their early age and compare to Mandela who died after 26 years after of the death of Chief awolowo. How can somebody will write and say it is mad to compare chief obafemi awolowo to mandela? I believe that most of the contributors had been antagonist to Chief Obafemi Awolowo because of the civil war of whom they cannot say anything about. I asked them who do not enjoy the legacy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo even their parents. Chief obafemi awolowo has a premier region in the 50’s, which comprises about nine nigerian state now, such as Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Kwara and Kogi states of whom their parents enjoy the free education by Chief Obafemi Awolowo as a premier region.

  28. SOLO ACT

    January 27, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    i think nigerias biggest mistake was not allowing IGBO
    people to leave when they wanted too. i still think it is time for
    NIGERIA to split into three and let IGBOS HAUSAs AND YORUBAS live
    separately. we are not one people. we all speak different languages
    and believe in different gods.

  29. Emmanuel

    August 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    In the aspect of forgiveness and reconciliation, Mandela stands tall far more than Awolowo.

  30. Ioannes

    January 30, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Lol @ 1 pound policy. So it is no longer 20 pounds but one pound. I know future generations of Igbos, your kids and their kids after them will deny that any pound was given to their great forebears after the war. Igbo + propaganda = 5 & 6
    Ask any two Igbo persons about the number of casualties in the war on the Biafran side and you will see figures like 3 million,6 million, 10 million ?
    If not for Awolowo, the Igbos will be a minority tribe in Nigeria coming way behind the Ngas people, that is if they weren’t totally wiped out. Ojukwu was bent on pushing his people over the mountain cliff. Awolowo saved them by initiating a policy that quickly ended the war. As Jesus is to Christians, so Awolowo is to Igbos. Unfortunately, new Igbo generations are being fed with propaganda from their parents. What a shame!

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