By Chinenyeh Ozor – Nsukka
Professor Uche Azikiwe, wife of the first President of Nigeria and erstwhile Premier of the Eastern Region, late Rt. Hon. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe has explained how she got married to Zik in 1972 at the age of 26 years while Zik was 69 years.
Uche Azikiwe, professor emeritus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka disclosed this in Nsukka in an interview with BBC Igbo programme.
Professor Azikiwe said that the late Zik who died in 1996 didn’t marry her after the cultural dance of Nkwa Umuagbogho which she was part of as being circulated, explaining that she was not 16 years either when Zik married her as being circulated by uninformed people in the society.
In her words,” I never dreamt of being the wife of Nnamdi Azikiwe in my life. My first contact with him was not when I danced the Nkwa Umuagbogho Afikpo cultural dance as being circulated.
“My father and his friends in politics then prepared and said that Nkwa Umuagogho Afikpo cultural dance should entertain at a cultural festival. I was only 14 years when I danced.
“After some months of the cultural dance, Chief Nnachi Enwo representing Afikpo North in the parliament came and told my Father that Zik said that the people that danced should be entertained and trained in schools on scholarship and employment.
“My sister who finished teacher training college was employed in Lagos. I was in primary school then and was the lucky one to study in secondary school on Zik’s scholarship. My first time to see Zik was when I came to study in a secondary school in 1965. It was not only me; we were many to enter Queen of the Rosary Secondary School QRSS on scholarship.
“When in 1967, the civil war in Nigeria started, I went home as everybody ran to different locations as a result of the Biafran war.
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“During the war, my father and his two friends and myself went to see Zik at Nekede in Owerri, Imo State and that was the only contact I had with him during the war.
“At that visit, he only asked me how are you doing and I replied that I was alright. With my father, I didn’t say anything.
“After the war, Zik told Justice Anyaegbunam from Onitsha to gather all the people on his scholarship to go back to school, those remaining then. Where I went back to study was Holy Child Secondary School, Abakaliki in Ebonyi State.
“We were still in secondary school when Zik sent a message asking us what we want to be in life. I said I want to be a nurse. Zik then said he will send me to London where he sent his three sisters that trained as nurses.
“In 1972, I prepared to move to London for nursing training and that was where the game changed as God planned it.
“Many people didn’t believe that I will conceive and give birth as Zik was 69 years then and I was 26 years when I married him. I have two boys for him and the two have given me 10 grandchildren.
“I learnt a lot from Zik and there are certain things one will do to me and I will say if not for the name I am answering now, I will show the person that I grew up at police barracks.
“My father was a police officer as Sergeant Major who always asked me to apply diplomacy in everything I do. I learnt hard work as Zik was a hard-working man who didn’t want anybody to help him.
“He was independent. I learnt humility as he was a humble man all his life and peace loving.
“I saw myself as someone God loves in a special way by making me to be to the wife of Nnamdi Azikiwe. My marriage was not the design of my father and mother nor any other person but the design of God” she concluded.