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Nigeria at 50Will the 'Giant of Africa' become a real giant of Africa?

CHIKA ONYEANI | 4/12/2011, 5:23 p.m.

Every time you look around, the world is recognizing a Nigerian for one thing or another. Nigerians are excelling everywhere in the diaspora. We have the great literary icons in Chinua Achebe, whose book "Things Fall Apart" has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and who just won $300,000 for his "unprecedented impact on literature" and Wole Soyinka, the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature. Uwem Akpan is the only African who has a book, "Say You're One of Them," that has been featured on Oprah. Then you have the young turks like Chimamanda Adichie and Okonjo-Iweala, who are winning prizes left and right.

Here in America, most hospitals would close without the thousands of Nigerian physicians at those institutions. Nigerian sportsmen and women are recognized the world over in their respective professions, garnering lots of money as well as acclaim.

On October 1, we looked at Nigeria at 50 with nostalgia and at our fallen heroes--the great "Zik of Africa," Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; the "Golden Voice of Africa" and first Nigerian prime minister, Tafawa Balewa; the great Chief Obafemi Awolowo; the great Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello' the great Dr. Michael Okpara; and the great Chief Dennis Osadebay.

We can look back at this time last year and how the debate was all about the disintegration of Nigeria due to the continual absence of the captain of the state. But this year, there is a new polity, represented by a man called "Goodluck" Jonathan, whose side is graced by a woman called "Patience" Jonathan. In Nigeria's 47 years of independence, it had never been ruled by an individual who finished a college degree before becoming head of state, until the late President Umaru Yar'Adua. But now, we have a president who not only has a doctorate, but even announced his candidacy on the social network Facebook, a first in Africa.

Folks, well I believe that is progress. And maybe, just maybe, with "Patience," the "Goodluck" will shine on Nigeria in the next 50 years.

Chika A. Onyeani is acclaimed author of the internationally acclaimed, No.-1 bestselling book "Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success--A Spider Web Doctrine," the blockbuster novel "The Broederbond Conspiracy" (aka The Black James Bond), and the first in a series of African folk tales for children, "ODUM: The Lion." He is the publisher/editor in chief of the award-winning African Sun Times, acclaimed by the African Union as champion of the African agenda in America. He is a well-known consultant on African issues and has traveled to many African countries on paid speaking engagements on the economic empowerment of Black people.