10 Things About Chief Emeka Anyaoku, First African Secretary-General of Commonwealth  

Chief Emeka Anyaoku

Chief Eleazar Chukwuemeka (Emeka) Anyaoku was born in Obosi, Nigeria, on January 18, 1933. He is chief not just by lineage but also by virtue of his outstanding leadership abilities. 

  • The first African Secretary-General of the Commonwealth is a diplomat by the name of Chief Emeka Anyaoku GCVO, CFR, CON.  Often referred to as “the diplomat’s diplomat”.
  • He spent more than 50 years of his life working to advance democracy, good governance, and international peace.  
  • From 1990 until 2000, he was the Secretary General of the Commonwealth. 
  • His leadership experience spans decades and several institutions, both domestically and abroad. His main interest and area of attention have always been the advancement of democracy on the African continent. When he joined the Commonwealth Development Corporation in 1959 at the young age of 26, his leadership prowess was evident.  
  • Shortly after the Nigerian independence, the new Government invited him to join the country’s diplomatic service. In 1963, he was posted to Nigeria’s Permanent Mission at the United Nations (UN) in New York. 

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  • In 1998, the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, in recognition of Chief Emeka Anyaoku’s antecedents concerning South Africa, and the manner in which he had championed the cause of the progressive movements around the world, afforded him the rare honour of addressing a joint sitting of the South African National Assembly. Lastly, former President Nelson Mandela wrote the foreword to Chief Chukwuemeka Anyaoku’s book, Eye of Fire. 
  • In early 1997, he organised the first African Commonwealth Heads of Government Roundtable to promote democracy and good governance on the continent. However, he still honours his traditional duties, serving as a chief in the midst of his international commitments.   
  • He also hosted peace talks between Nigerian and Biafran representatives during the war. 
  • He holds over 33 honorary Doctorate degrees from top universities in Britain, Canada, Ghana, Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland and Ghana. 
  • He continues to fulfil the duties of his office as Ichie Adazie Obosi, a traditional Ndichie chieftaincy title.
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