With problems like our authoritarian government, the social media bill, traffic, etc plaguing Nigeria, it is almost impossible to have had any pride whatsoever about being a Nigerian in 2019. However, there have been moments, even if for a short time that Nigerians felt genuine pride. These moments were made possible by the exploits of outstanding Nigerians both at home and in diaspora who put Nigeria on the map in one way or another.
Without further ado, here are 11 moments that gave Nigerians joy in 2019.
Adesua Etomi’s Vogue feature
Adesua Etomi made Nigerians all over the world proud when she was featured alongside 13 global superstars from all over the world on “global fashion bible”, Vogue magazine’s April issue tagged “The Global Issue”. Adesua was featured alongside Deepika Padukone, Scarlett Johansson, Vanessa Kirby Bruna Marquezine, AlbaRohrwacher and Lea Seydoux.
Anthony Joshua’s comeback victory
On June 1, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, U.S. Anthony Joshua fell to a shocking defeat to under dog Andy Ruiz Jr., losing his WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO world heavyweight championship. However, he came back on December 7, after intense training camps and a visit to Nigeria, and regained his titles with a boxing masterclass, returning normalcy and putting a smile on the faces of Nigerians.
Alex Onyeama’s action on Xenophobia
Following the xenophobic attacks on Nigerian citizens in South Africa and the governments lethargic response, Allen Onyema, founder and chief executive of Air Peace, sent an airplane to South Africa to evacuate 485 Nigerians. This action earned him plaudits giving Nigerians some sense of hope, and despite his troubles with the FBI, his actions cannot be forgotten.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie continues setting milestones
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie just cannot stop making exploits, every year she achieves a land mark, and 2019 was no different. She became the youngest African to receive the UN Foundation Global Leadership Award. Adichie received an receive an honorary doctorate and served as class day speaker in the same weekend, an unprecedented feat in the history of Yale University. She was also one of the cover stars of British Vogue’s landmark issue guest edited by HRH The Duchess of Sussex. Her acclaimed book, ‘Americanah’ was picked by Academy award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o for a film adaptation. What a force Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is.
Beyonce’s Lion King Album
Following the release of the live action version of the classic film The Lion King, Beyonce, who also stared in the film, released an album titled The Lion King: The Gift. The album featured an array of Nigerian artists from Burna Boy to Wizkid, Tekno, Tiwa Savage, Mr Eazi and Yemi Alade. This was a truly proud moment for Nigerians and Nigerian music and made for legit bragging right especially on social media.
2019 was simply the year of Burna Boy, everything he touched absolutely turned to gold and he has arguably become the biggest artist in Africa. Back in 2018, you could see that there was a wave coming and 2019 felt like a tsunami. His album African Giant was not only critically and commercially successful, it also earned a coveted Grammy nomination. Burna Boy has no doubt made Nigeria proud and has won over even the sternest doubters.
Tanitoluwa is World Chess Champion
Another proud moment in 2019 was when Tanitoluwa Adewumi became the newly crowned chess champion of New York despite only learning chess about a year prior to the competition. Tanitoluwa won his category (kindergarten through third grade) at the New York State chess championship.
Mo Abudu and the Emmys
Media mogul, Mo Abudu, became the first African to chair the International Emmy Awards Gala. She performed the role at the 47th International Emmy Awards held in New York City. Mo Abudu cant stop winning, maybe the Oscars next.
The only thing Nigerians love more than sports is winning in sports, and 2019 has brought many of those wins, expecially in the UFC. These victories have been brought by two of the most standout and dominant performers in the sport, Israel Adesanya, the undisputed UFC Middleweight Champion and Kamaru Usman, the UFC Welterweight Champion. The two champions have endeared themselves to the heart of Nigerians with the ‘Naija’ pride they carry into the octagon.
Muhammad Ali Pate’s world bank appointment
Muhammad Ali Pate was named Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group and Director of the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents. Pate was also appointed Julio Frenk Professor of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health on July 1, 2019.
Time’s Next 2019
Time magazine launched the 100 Next, an expansion the Time 100 franchise that spotlights 100 rising stars and up-and-comers who are shaping their industries. Out of the eight Africans selected for the honour, three Nigerians were selected, Njideka Akunyili Crosby a Nigerian-born visual artist based in Los Angeles, Kwame Onwuachi an American-Nigerian chef based in Washington, D.C and Oluwaseun Ayodeji a Nigeria women’s rights activist and the Executive Director of Stand to End Rape Initiative (STER). These three individuals have been outstanding in their diverse fields and thoroughly deserved the recognition.