Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

Independence Day

To Nigeria from Emeagwali


On October 1, 1960, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa urged us to "move with quiet dignity to our place on the world stage."

On October 1, 2003, the world stage is defined by such technologies as personal computers, the Internet and mobile phones.

The 21st century will be the century of knowledge and the century of technological developments and a century in which the intellectual capital of a nation will drive its economic growth. It is therefore imperative that we invest in our children's education, not only so that they can flourish in a world that demands technological literacy, but so that we can harness their creativity in building our nation.

Our investments in education and technology will be our legacy to our children. They are investments that will bring the best out of the next generation of Nigerians and enable us to reach our potential as individuals, as communities, as a nation.

There is an old saying: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry." The art of fishing and self-sustenance is more valuable than having a fish on your plate. For Nigerians in particular, this parable reminds us that developing our human resources is more valuable than exploiting our natural resources.

My brothers and sisters, we invest in education because it will enable us to build a better Nigeria. Our children will be the beneficiaries tomorrow of the collective decisions that we adults make today. When we invest in our children, we will find that our collective standard of living will grow, too.

The real leaders of this nation are ordinary people with the extraordinary determination and foresight to invest in their children's education.

As we answer Prime Minister Balewa's call and march towards the world stage, let us also remember that our common interests - in our nation, and in our children - outweigh our differences. We are greater than the sum of the fears that have kept us divided in the past as a people.

As we pause to celebrate our nation's 43rd birthday, please take time to remember that most Nigerians who celebrated our nation's first birthday are no longer among us. We honor their memory and legacy by showing our love for our family and friends, our respect for each other, and reaffirming our oneness as a people.

You owe it to our founding fathers and mothers, and to all Nigerians, to avow that wherever flags are flying, no one is more determined than you in ensuring that the Nigerian flag flutters high above those of many nations.

Nigeria is a work in progress and a country with enormous potential. Our petroleum reserve is the envy of many other nations today, and the Nigerian people have an unstoppable determination, internal fortitude and indomitable spirit that give me hope for the future.

I greet all Nigerians with love and respect, and send you my best wishes for a joyous Independence Day.


Emeagwali attended the first Independence Day celebration as a Primary One student in Sapele, (then Western Region) Nigeria. He won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, which has been called "supercomputing's Nobel Prize," for inventing a formula that allows computers to perform their fastest computations - a discovery that inspired the reinvention of supercomputers. He was extolled by then U.S. President Bill Clinton as "one of the great minds of the Information Age," described by CNN as "a Father of the Internet;" he is the most searched-for scientist on the Internet.

United States President John F Kennedy and Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
US President Kennedy and Nigerian Prime Minister
US President John F. Kennedy escorts Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa from the White House. Prime Minister Balewa carries a bust of Abraham Lincoln presented to him by the President. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed: July 27, 1961

Nnamdi Azikiwe
Portrait of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe
Original Caption: The Right Honorable Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe P.C., LL.D., Governor-General of Federation of Nigeria. Bettmann/CORBIS

Memorable Quote:

"I have one advice to give to our politicians. If they have decided to destroy our national unity, then they should summon a round-table conference to decide how our national assets should be divided before they seal their doom by satisfying their lust for office. I make this suggestion because it is better for us and many admirers abroad that we should disintegrate in peace and not in pieces. Should the politicians fail to heed this warning, then I will venture the prediction that the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be a child's play if ever it comes to our turn to play such a tragic role." --- Nnamdi Azikiwe, December 1964, "A Dawn Address" As reported in Kirk Greene's book (page 21]

Chief Obafemi Awolowo with Frances P. Bolton
Original Caption: Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Prime Minister of the western region of the Federation of Nigeria, is shown as he paid a courtesy call on Rep. Frances P. Bolton, R-O., at the capitol today. The Nigerian leader is in the country to acquaint businessmen with the investment possibilities in the western part of his country. Bettmann/CORBIS Photographer: Mahan; Jim Date Photographed: March 20, 1956 Location Information Washington, DC, USA

Memorable Quote:

"Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no 'Nigerians' in the same sense as there are 'English,' 'Welsh,' or 'French.' The word 'Nigerian' is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not." [From Path to Nigerian Freedom by Obafemi Awolowo]

Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria
Nigerian Regional Leaders
Original Caption: 1962-Lagos, Nigeria- Parliamentary democracy has another chance in Nigeria, which gained independence from Britain 10/1/1960. The country is divided into 3 distinct regions, all of which gained self-government before Nigeria's independence, and have a large measure of power. Shown here (L-R) are the leaders of the 3 regions: Sir Ahmadu Bello, north Nigerian premier; Chief Obafemi Awolowo, western leader; and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, eastern chief. Bettmann/CORBIS Date Photographed 1962 Location Information Lagos, Nigeria


Nigerian Children Welcome the Queen Elizabeth II
A group of children stand with their Union Jack flags at the ready to welcome Queen Elizabeth II to Lagos as she attends Sunday service at the city's cathedral. Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS Date Photographed January 31, 1956 Location Information Lagos, Nigeria


Queen Elizabeth and Commonwealth Ministers
Original caption: London: Queen Elizabeth II poses with Commonwealth ministers at Buckingham Palace here March 16th where all attended a dinner shown in the photo are: (left to right) President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker of Canada, Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd (rear) of South Africa, Prime Minister Jawaharial Nehru of India, President Mohammed Ayud Khan of Pakistan (rear), Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Roy Welensky (rear) of Rhodesia, Prime Minister Sirimava Bandaranaika of Ceylon, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (rear) of Britain, Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Archbishop Makarios, President of Cyprus, and Prime Minister Keith Holyoake of New Zealand. Together the Queen and her ministers rule one quarter of the human race. Bettmann/CORBIS (March 16, 1961. London, England)

Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

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Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor