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Nigerian Heroes and Heroines and Their Achievements

We know that Nigeria is seen as a country with so many negative things; bad governance, corruption, police brutality and so much more. However, certain heroes and heroines have emerged from this country and continue to make us proud

These patriotic citizens have worked hard to ensure a better Nigeria where the people are free from British colonialism and free to express themselves.

Nigerian heroes and heroines

We have multiple heroes and heroines in Nigeria who have made so many sacrifices. Some of them have paid so many prices, even the ultimate sacrifice of death. No matter what, we need to remind ourselves of their actions.

Their efforts have made Nigeria a better place. 

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti

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Women’s rights activist and pioneer African feminist, Fumilayo was a founding mother of Nigerian independence. She was part of delegations to discuss the proposed national constitution, and her contributions to Nigerian society as a feminist and women’s rights activist are immense and present to this day.  

You may remember her for the words, “As for the charges against me, I am unconcerned. I am beyond their timid lying morality and so I am beyond caring.”

That is power, people. 

In the 1940s, she co-founded the Abeokuta Women’s Union, which led a women’s protest against colonial taxation in 1946 and consequently, the abdication of the Alake of Egbaland. Ransome-Kuti also co-founded the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) with her husband in 1931. 

She has established many schools around Southern Nigeria and constantly remained a resilient force for women’s rights throughout her life. She is also remembered as the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria.

Ransome-Kuti died in 1978 after soldiers threw her from the second floor of her son Fela’s Lagos home during a 1977 raid. 

Ahmadu Bello

Ahmadu Ibrahim Bello

Ahmadu Ibrahim Bello, along with other politicians at that time had pushed for the independence of Nigeria. He was also one of the people who masterminded the unification of the different people of Hausa. 

He was assassinated in a coup that ended Nigeria’s post-independence government on January 15, 1966. 

Related: Who Named Nigeria? Find Out Here

MKO Abiola

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Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) is regarded as the father of democracy. He was a businessman, publisher, and politician. He was elected as the president for what people call the fairest and freest election to date. No wonder June 12th has been named Democracy day to celebrate the date.

And even though the results were annulled, he continued to fight for his mandate until his death. 

Wole Soyinka

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Activist, and writer, this man happens to be the GOAT of Nigeria. You cannot say Nigeria without Wole Soyinka. One thing Wole Soyinka would do is speak against the government’s bad decisions. 

At age 33, he was imprisoned by the Nigerian military government for 22 months for speaking out against the Nigerian civil war; and in 1994, he fled the country after the dictatorship in power charged him with treason for criticizing the military junta. 

He was the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. During his speech, he turned the focus world’s attention to the injustice of white rule in South Africa and dedicated the award to then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela.

For all his contributions to Nigerian society, Soyinka is indeed a symbol of Nigerian resilience and a true generational impact leader. 

Related: The Nigerian Flag, Everything You Need to Know

Aisha Yesufu

Aisha Yesufu

Aisha contributed greatly in 2014 when 300 girls were kidnapped from a secondary school in Northeast Nigeria by the terrorist Boko Haram group. Alongside ObyEzekwesili, she launched the Bring Back Our Girls campaign to demand the release of the girls. 

This campaign was one of the biggest Nigeria has ever seen and attracted global attention from people like Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and a lot of celebrities. With the help of the campaign, over 100 girls were released and the campaign is still ongoing. Yesufu has continued to remain a vocal critic of lax government policy and frequently advocates for the accountability of political officeholders. 

Related: Nigerian National Anthem: All You Need to Know

Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda is a force to reckon with, both nationally and internationally. She is an author and a famous feminist, with her Purple Hibiscus focusing on a 16-year-old woman terrorized by her conversational father.

Chimamanda Adichie

In 2015, the book was distributed to every 16-year-old high-school student in Sweden and has remained on bestseller lists all over the world. 

“We should all be feminists” is the title of the now-famous TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Through her work, Adichie has been able to bring global attention to the inequalities women face in Nigerian and global society. 

Related: “The Best of Colleen Hoover: Must-Read Novels for Every Romance Fan”

Chinua Achebe

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Although late, this man was one of the best novelists of his generation. Achebe is famous for speaking up about the imposition of Western culture, as well as his first novel Things Fall Apart (1958). It is undoubtedly the most widely-read book in modern African literature.

Through his work, Achebe was a champion of fairness in society and constantly advocated for a more equal Nigeria through literature, despite being paralyzed after an accident in 1990. He died after a short illness in March 2013 in Boston, United States.

Obafemi Awolowo 

Yes, politicians also make the list of Nigerian heroes and heroines. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the first indigenous Premier of Western Nigeria. His photo is on the N100 naira note. 

He was one of the first leaders to push for Nigeria’s independence for Nigeria. He also introduced free education for all in the 1950s. Although he contested for presidency thrice, he didn’t win, but he still is regarded as the leader of the Yorubas. \

Related: Who was the First President of Nigeria?

Grace Eniola Soyinka

The last name sounds very familiar, right? She is not Wole Soyinka’s wife, but his mother. She was a women’s rights activist and also the co-founder of Abeokuta Women’s Union with Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, who was her aunt-in-law. 

The group protested against taxes introduced by the Alake of Abeokuta, the indirect ruler backed by British colonialists.

Fela Anikuolapo Kuti

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Popularly called, “Fela”, this man used his music to continually push for good governance. Fela was a political activist, band member, composer, and also the pioneer of Afrobeat in Nigeria. 

You may not know, but Fela founded the Kalakuta republic which declared itself independent from military rule. Fela used his music to challenge the government and was often a target of the military. He died of complications from AIDS, but his bravery is never forgotten. 

Related: Fela Anikulapo: Early Life, Career, Music, Family, and Death

Tobi Amusan


You may wonder why such a young person is on the list of Nigerian heroes and heroines. Well, I consider Tobi a heroine because she inspires Nigerians. Tobi set a World Record, twice up, to win the 100m hurdles in style at the World Championships.

Related: Nigerian Zip Code For All the 36 States

Nigerian heroes and heroines: Conclusion

This list could go on and on. We have past leaders like Tafewa Balewa who helped us with independence, and sports heroes like Jayjay Okocha, Isreal Adesanya, Anthony Joshua, and Kamuru Usman.

There are also celebrity heroes like DjSwitch, Falz, and Mr. Macaroni who have been helping fight the recent spate of injustice against Nigerian youths. There are also people who did the impossible like Agbani Darego by winning the Miss World pageant. We also have journalists whose lives were cut short while doing their duty – Zakariya Isa, Samson Boyi, Pelumi Onifade, and much more. 

Oluwatoyin Odunuyi
Oluwatoyin Odunuyihttps://linktr.ee/ToyinAjua
Oluwatoyin Eria-Ajua Odunuyi resides in the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria. In 2020, she received a BSc in Mass communication from Caleb University and specialized in print journalism. Toyin loves to write romance novels because she is obsessed with living in a never-ever-land and often lives through her books. She presently owns a 5-year blog called "An Inclusive Kind world" where she speaks on Autism and society's role in pushing for awareness and inclusion.