Today marks the 6th year since Dora Akunyili passed. We remember her today and all her outstanding achievements.
Dora Akunyili was an internationally renowned pharmacist, pharmacologist, scholar, seasoned administrator and a visionary leader. Prior to her appointment as the minister of the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication in Nigeria, she was the director general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for nearly eight years, taking office in April 2001. As director general, Akunyili was an integral part of the campaign that worked tirelessly and with significant success for the eradication of counterfeit drugs and unsafe food in Nigeria. A pharmacist before becoming a governmental administrator, Akunyili was a senior lecturer and a consultant pharmacologist in the College of Medicine at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) until her appointment as director general. She was also the zonal secretary of Petroleum Special Trust Fund (PTF) for four years. She received international recognition and numerous accolades for her work in pharmacology, public health, and human rights, including a Grassroots Human Rights Campaigner Award by International Service in 2005.
In 2001, Akunyili became the head of Nigeria’s drug regulator, NAFDAC. By 2006, she had reduced the circulation of fake drugs in Nigeria from 80% to 17% [est.] – The Republic
When Chimee Adioha posted on his Instagram page that he will be having a quarantine book chat with Chidiogo Akunyili, I was more than excited!
Chidiogo gave us a glimpse of what to expect from her soon to be released book during the book chat. The book begins with Dora’s birth and naming. Like me, Chidiogo believes names are prayers and they carry seeds. Which is why the book begins with Chidiogo giving us insight into her mother’s names and their meanings.
…When I was born, the year was 1954 and a kola-nut was broken in honour of my birth. And ise and so it is was chorused in agreements to prayers for a long and prosperous life. I was given the name Dorathy Nkemdilim Edemobi. Dorathy means Gift of God and Nkemdilim means Let what is mine be unto me – otherwise put – May my destiny be fulfilled. My maiden name Edemobi means I rest my soul. My name as such meant – Gift of God whose destiny will be fulfilled that I may rest my soul. I would marry and become Dorathy Nkemdilim Akunyili and with that my identity will morph into Gift of God whose destiny will be fulfilled and my wealth overflow. Over the course of my life, I simply became known by many as Dora or any one of the following; Amazon, Sista – an emphasis on the final ‘a’, Iron Lady, Dora banyi – meaning, our Dora; Nwunye anyi – meaning, our wife; Ugo mmuta – meaning, mirror of wisdom…
She read an excerpt on her mother’s journey to becoming the Director-General of NAFDAC. Narrating in detail the call her mother received from President Olusegun Obasanjo. Chidiogo explained that one doesn’t have to work in government agencies to transform the society. Anyone can be an agent of change. Writing this book about her mum was her own way of societal transformation.
From the reading, I found her writing style poetic and soothing.
She has been working on this book for two and the half years and to get the desired tone, she read biographies and books written by kids of accomplished people to find a foundation for her own book.
For the Biafra experience – which is a major part of the book – she did tons of interviews, spoke to teachers and traditional leaders. Her father who was also a soldier in the war and he narrated his own experience. Basically the war stories in this book are experiences of different people.
Chidiogo has had a long history of knowing life isn’t about comparing but learning about these people…learning to be humble. When asked if she was intimidated by her mother’s success during the chat, she said she was more humbled than intimidated.
If there’s ever going to be an audio book, she will be doing the narration – simple because this story is a deeply personal one.
I look forward to reading this book and can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands!
Chidiogo Akunyili is the daughter of Late. Prof. Dora Akunyili. She is the Founder of She ROARs – Reimagining Our Africa Rising — empowering women across Africa to unleash their full potential and that of the continent.
She is a writer, storyteller, and movement builder who is impacting global narrative based in her belief and championship of the power of people to change the world. Her philosophy is founded on the humanist African concept of Ubuntu — ‘I am because you are. You are because we are’ — upholding and celebrating our shared humanity. Akunyili believes in supporting individuals, particularly women and youth, to reaching their full potential which in turn will serve humanity. Having lived and worked across 5 continents, Chidiogo speaks 7 of the world’s languages including Chinese, English, French, German, Igbo, Italian and Spanish — invaluable tools that bridge lives, people and their global realities.
She is a World Economic Forum Global Leadership Fellow; and Associate Fellow of Nigerian Leadership Initiative. She was named ‘100 most inspiring women in Nigeria’ by The Guardian; ‘100 most influential Young Africans’ by Africa Youth Awards; ‘100 most Influential Nigerians’ by Avance Media; and ‘Young Professional of the Year’ by Future Awards Africa.
Akunyili draws from over 10 years of professional experience in Community building; Business development; Intercultural dialogue; Sino-African relations & Strategy consulting having lived and worked across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, North America and Europe.
Chidiogo most recently led the Global Shapers Community — a community of inspiring young change makers — across over 120 Hub cities in Africa and the Middle East.
Chidiogo has been published in local and international media including Public Diplomacy Magazine; World Economic Forum Agenda; Institute for Cultural Diplomacy; Trop Libre; Pulse Nigeria; All Africa, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. You can read her stories on chidiogo.org
B.A. International Relations & Political Science, UPenn & Sciences Po Paris; M.A. International Relations & Economics, SAIS Johns Hopkins; Executive Leadership Program, Master in Global Leadership, World Economic Forum with certificates from INSEAD, Columbia University, Wharton School, London Business School, China Europe International Business School, and Cornell Tech.
Featured Image: The Beautyful Ones by Njideka Akunyili Crosby