In 1963, Nnamdi “Zik” Azikiwe joined the ranks of Penn alums serving as countries’ leading men when he became the very first president of Nigeria after the nation declared its independence from the Brits.
Azikiwe graduated from Penn in 1933 with master’s degrees in PoliSci and Anthro, and then headed back home to apply them. In Nigeria, he got involved in the nationalist movement through his career as a journalist, editor and founder of multiple newspapers. One thing led to another, and Editor-in-Chief gradually became Executive Chief. You know how it is.
Although his presidency was cut short by a coup in 1966, Azikiwe remained active in politics and was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from the University in 1980 (pictured above). He is survived by the many places in Nigeria still bearing his name and the 500 naira bill which features his smile.