Mazi Mbonu Ojike: The fearless Nigerian nationalist known as the ‘Boycott King’
“Boycott the Boycottables” Ojike died at the age of 44 and many believed he transitioned to the land of his ancestors without realizing his full potentials.
He gave birth to every Nigerians pride in his culture as a living functional whole”, he added.
In 1936, Ojike as a teacher proved what Prof. Ukwu said of him by leading an agitation for more pay for junior teachers at Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Awka, accusing the authorities of discrimination, stressing that the salaries of junior teachers ought to have been increased when salaries of their senior colleagues were.
Resigning as a teacher in 1938, Ojike established contact with Dr. Azikiwe, who encouraged him to go for further studies. He later attended Lincoln University.
His colleagues were Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who later became President of Ghana and other pioneer members of the African Students Association of America and Canada and the group became a veritable platform for nationalist activities.
Whilst in the United States, Ojike’s activism was not confined to associations, conferences, and rallies. He published three books in his three years there: Portrait of a Boy in Africa (1945), My Africa (1946) and I have Two Countries (1947).
Ojike masterfully and succinctly portrayed for his foreign audience the identity and integrity of African culture in his first two books and his penetrating analysis as one writer put it was further pointed in his third book when in recording his American experience Ojike probed beneath the glitter of the American dream to draw illuminating comparisons with life in Africa.
The message in his third book was said to be for both his country and to all humanity: “I am not proud of what our world has been nor of what it is; I am proud to join men and women of goodwill to make our civilization what it ought to be.”
Upon his return to Nigeria in 1947, Ojike, as expected, entered into politics, turning to Zik for political mentoring. Ojike became an automatic member of the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and a thorn in the flesh of the British interlopers.
“As a critic of the colonial administration, he was marked down for liquidation. When he poured venom on the British government over the behavior of security forces during the Iva Valley massacre in 1949, he was charged with sedition and fined 40 pounds,” Oladesu wrote in 2013.