The story of Emmanuel Ifeajuna is not a popular one today as many doesn’t know about the feit that this young man matched in the sporting world.Becoming the first African to win a gold medal in an international sporting event.
Emmanuel Ifeajuna was born in 1935, trained as a high jumper and broke the outstanding record of common wealth Olympic games. He became a national hero and his picture was used on the popular Olympic exercise book.
The first time Emmanuel Ifeajuna appeared before a crowd of thousands he did something no black African had ever done. He won a gold medal at an international sporting event. Which is today called TheOlympics
“Nigeria Creates World Sensation,” ran the headline in the West African Pilotafter Ifeajuna’s record-breaking victory in the high jump at the 1954 Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver.He was the pride not just of Nigeria but of a whole continent.
Because of his international recognition Emmanuel Ifeajuna enlisted to join the Nigerian army in 1960, He quickly rose to the rank of major in 1966 due to his educational background as a graduate from University of Ibadan.
He Joined politics with the aim of helping his people and creating good governance.
He was not satisfied with how the Nigerian government was piloting its affairs, he became a part of the plotter of Nigeria’s deadliest coup alongside Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Chris Anuforo, Don Okafor and a host of others, it is also on record that not only did Ifeajuna arrest then prime minister Tafawa Balewa, he was also responsible for the deaths of several army officials, the coup was not succesful as it was prevented by Major General Aguiyi Ironsi who later seized power to become Nigeria’s first Head Of State
The next time Ifeajuna appeared before a crowd of thousands he was bare-chested and tied to a stake, facing execution before a seething mob. He had co-led a military coup in January 1966 in which, according to an official but disputed police report, he shot and killed Nigeria’s first prime minister. The coup failed but Ifeajuna escaped to safety in Ghana, dressed as a woman and was driven to freedom by a famous poet. Twenty months later, he was back, fighting for the persecuted Igbo people of eastern Nigeria in a brutal civil war that broke out as a consequence of the coup.
Ifeajuna and three fellow officers were accused by their own leader, General Emeka Ojukwu, of plotting against him and the breakaway Republic of Biafra. They denied charges of treason: they were trying to save lives and their country, they said, by negotiating an early ceasefire with the federal government and reuniting Nigeria. They failed, they died and, in the next two and a half years, so did more than a million Igbos.
This was His words before death
“You may kill me now, but I am afraid it is too late, the Nigerians are already in your midst, it won’t be long before they get all of you”