Like The Queen, Like Zik Of Africa

Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Queen Elizabeth II

By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu


I am yet to learn Queen’s English and now they have changed to King’s English.

The Queen is dead; long live the King!

The burial of the Queen was brought home to me when my friend and brother, Reginald Offodile, made a phone call from his Port Harcourt hotel room, and was dramatically singing a mournful song on the death of “Our Mother the Queen.”

I joined Reginald in the teary song for the dead Queen, and he then advised me to turn on Sky TV to follow the elaborate burial proceedings of Queen Elizabeth II who gave birth to King Charles III.

Before I undertake the hard journey of learning King’s English, I must reveal that I am not Professor Uju Anya of the “excruciating” death hullabaloo!

I may not rank at all in the hierarchy of the hagiographers of royalty, but I remain ever so appreciative of the fact that I am yet to quit the Commonwealth headed by the Queen.

In this wise, one idea crept into my big head of how Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, alias Zik of Africa – the only black Governor-General of Nigeria, the first President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the only Nigerian whose name appeared in a Constitution of Nigeria, among many other firsts – should be seen as the one Nigerian who could be likened to the dead Queen.

As Governor-General, Zik was the Queen’s representative in Nigeria, while as the Ceremonial President he was a King in inverted commas!

Even when Nigeria became a Republic there was still the element of monarchy because Zik was a commander-in-chief like the Queen.

When the 1964 election was badly arranged and Zik refused to announce the return of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister he was quickly told by the British honchos that a Nigerian King or Queen has no say in election matters!

When the Army boys eventually overthrew the government, Zik knew that his placement as king had gone for good.

Zik had to suggest the system of government known as Diarchy because he knew that the military goons would never ever want to be separated from power once they had tasted it.

When the military power men deigned to return power to the civilians back in 1979, Zik was rewarded with the accusation that he did not pay tax such that he could not participate in the democratic power process!

In truth, which military man worthy of his boots would want an erstwhile king to participate in military-arranged democracy anyway?

Whether in Queen’s or King’s English, does the Queen of England participate in military democracy?

When some hardheaded pundits suggested that there was something ethnic about the tax payment matter, poor Mallam Aminu Kano had to be dragged in for some ethnic balancing!

Let’s not go into the murky details of the issue as the main concern now is the passing of Queen Elizabeth and Zik’s dimension in the chronicle.

Zik died on May 11, 1996, aged 92, and his casket was paraded from his birthplace in Zungeru through Abuja and Lagos to his hometown cum burial place in Onitsha.

It has just come by way of my gray matter that the iconic footballer, David Beckham, had to trek for more than two hours to behold the Queen’s casket.

Let the English people who know King’s English write about the Queen’s Mausoleum while I conclude with EngliIgbo my writing on Zik’s Mausoleum here!

The initial contract for the construction of the Zik Mausoleum was awarded in 1997 but it could only be completed on the coming to power of President Muhammudu Buhari.

An infrastructure for Buhari!

The Zik Mausoleum which consists of the museum housing Zik’s grave and an administrative unit on two floors made up of a reception, offices, conference halls, VIP lounge, museum-cum-archives, video display room, research, library, documentation section and conveniences, follows in the line of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the grave of King Mausolus of Persia, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

As you can see, I am dealing with queens and kings here, notably: Queen Elizabeth of England, King Mausolus of Persia, and King Zik of Africa.

As Chinua Achebe wrote, if you don’t like what I am writing, go and write your own!

*Uzor Maxim Uzoatu is a poet, journalist and public affairs analyst