- Emeka Aniche
Mazi Mbonu Ojike: An African Nationalist and Pan-Africanist
CULTURAL CRUSADER AND THE "BOYCOTT KING"
Mazi Mbonu Ojike (1912-1959) was an outspoken and fearless Nigerian nationalist, great pan-Africanist, an African cultural crusader, an an author and an activist for social justice and racial equality. He coined the now famous phrase “Boycott the Boycottables”, which earned him the title the “Boycott King.” His greatest impact was psychological and intellectual. He gave back to the Nigerian pride in himself as a human being, in his culture as a living functional whole.
He was born in 1914 to the family of Mgbeke and Mbonu Emeanlulu in Arondizuogu, South-east Nigeria,
He was a nationalist and writer. He had his elementary education at CMS School, Arondizuogu. Despite his father's protestations, Ojike attended Anglican schools, he had his primary education at CMS School, Arondizuogu. In 1925, he was a pupil teacher at Anglican Central School in Arondizuogu and Abagana. In 1929, he entered CMS Teachers Training College, Awka to train as a teacher, finishing training in 1931. Ojike soon gained employment at Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha. At the school, he was a choirmaster, sunday school supervisor and school organist. Ojike gradually became dissatisfied with a missionary's form of education criticizing it as not paramount to African development and suppressing African culture. Soon, he left the school and worked as an agent for West African Pilot. Motivated by the writings of James Aggrey and Azikiwe, Ojike decided to pursue further education abroad.
In November 1938, Ojike left Nigeria for higher education. He eventually bagged a Bachelor in Economics from the University of Ohio, United States of America. In America, he spent 8 years involved in intellectual pursuit and improving outsiders’ knowledge of Africa speaking from an African perspective. Upon his return, he promoted his brand of Africanisation, a persistent consumption of African forms of cloths, food, dress, religion and dances while also believing in the selective benefits of foreign amenities. Ojike made common the use of the word Mazi as a substitute for Mr.
Among his publications are My Africa and I have Two Countries. Ojike was a sophisticated critic who was passionate about economic nationalism, he was sometimes outspoken which earned him some enmity.
He was the Second Vice President of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons and Deputy Mayor of Lagos in 1951. He was known for his slogan, ‘Boycott the boycottables’. He supported the introduction of an African national costume. His interest in African music led to the founding of the All African Dance Association.
A member of the Reformed Ogboni Society, Ojike married two wives and had five children
Mazi Mbonu Ojike died on November 29, 1956, at Parklane Hospital, Enugu. He was buried the next day.