Top Social Icons

Responsive Full Width Ad

Left Sidebar
Left Sidebar
Featured News
Right Sidebar
Right Sidebar

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

The Richest Igbo Woman who Helped Biafran Soldiers During the War



October 02, 2019 | The Biafra Times

Mary Nwametu Nzimiro was born on October 16, 1898, in Oguta, Imo state. Her father was one of the first two warrant chiefs for Oguta appointed by Britain’s Queen Victoria and her mother was a successful trader.

At the time when Mary was born, there was international trading between Nigeria, a major producer of cocoa, palm oil, palm kernel, and Britain, who sold manufactured materials, such as textiles, beverages, and salt to Nigeria during the 18th and 19th centuries.

In 1914, Mary became the first girl to be enrolled in a Roman Catholic School at Oguta and was later enrolled at the Catholic Convent School, Asaba, where she graduated in 1920.

That same year, she married Richard Nzimiro, a clerk with United African Company (UAC), the company where her mother had also established British trade contacts.

Mary started business as a petty trader, selling salt and because of her husband’s job, they were always moving around. They soon moved to Port Harcourt, where she started trading in textiles, gunpowder, and cosmetics.

According to history, in 1950, during a routine sales probe, Mary said that her estimated monthly turnover was £6,000 to £8,000. She also entered into a manufacturing venture, producing men’s undershirts and later owned two gas stations from which she collected an estimated annual rent of £25,000 in the 1980s.

Mary’s business grew so much that she eventually asked her husband to resign from his job to help her manage the business. Through hard work and the help of her mother, Mary became the principal factor for the UAC and also served as the sole agent for their eastern zone.

Her involvement in Nigeria’s political struggles during the 1940s and ’50s earned her, her council women’s wing of the National Council of Nigerian Citizens, which was one of the nation’s most influential political parties in 1946.

Read Also: Grief in Anambara as Governor Obiano Equates the Life of an Average Igbo with 500,000 Naira

With her help and support, Mary’s husband was elected as the first mayor of Port Harcourt in 1956 and she was reportedly the one who financed her husband’s political ambition.

Mary’s daughter, Priscilla Nzimiro became the first Igbo woman to become a medical doctor after she studied medicine in Scotland. As Mary’s prosperity grew, she became a philanthropist, especially in the area of education. In 1945, she founded the William Wilberforce Academy at Oguta.

After the death of Priscilla in 1950, the academy was renamed the Priscilla Memorial Grammar School. Mary Nzimiro awarded scholarships to Ghanaians, Sierra Leonians and Nigerians. She also provided the means for several women in her family to study domestic science and fashion.

Because of her success in business, she was invited by the directors of UAC to England for her first overseas tour in 1948. On other visits to Britain, Mary was twice hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

In her homeland, Mary was honoured with the title of Ogbuefi, thereby becoming the second woman to be initiated into the Ikwamuo society, which was said to be reserved for men.

In 1956, she became a member of Moral Re-Armament founded by Frank Buchman. In 1966, Mary established the Nzimiro Memorial Girls’ Secondary School after her husband, who had died in 1959. The two schools are seen as Mary’s greatest contribution to national development.

She helped young women to be trained in modern domestic skills and also operated inexpensive lodgings for women who had come to Port Harcourt seeking work but had no place to stay.

During the civil war in Nigeria, Mary supported the Biafran soldiers with food. She traveled throughout the eastern region of the country, collecting clothing and food for distribution to soldiers in the army camps.

Contact us: [email protected]
Instagram: biafrawriters
Twitter:  @BiafraWriters
Publisher: Charles Opanwa

6 comments

  1. This is great. These are history that needs to be taught in schools. We need to make igbo language a mandatory class from elementary school to university level. We are loosing our history and culture. The yorubas, the Chinese and other ethnic regions are preserving their culture. But the ibis language is becoming history.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I concur with you 100%. I, personally did not know about this great and billionaire Igbo woman - thanks to excellent Biafra media writers. I have learned a lot reading your articles. Please keep up the great work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is heartwarming, this is great. History has remembered and will continue to remember her. She must be resting peacefully after a job well done.
    Where are her decendants, what are they doing not to have immotalized her up till now? Her history is supposed to be in school curriculum in Biafraland. Peace to her and to those she left behind. She and the popular Aba women of 1929 exploits should always be mentioned during the Biafran Heroes and Heroins rememberance celebration seasons. Long live Biafra and may God continue to bless Biafra. Amen

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is heartwarming, this is great. History has remembered and will continue to remember her. She must be resting peacefully after a job well done.
    Where are her decendants, what are they doing not to have immotalized her up till now? Her history is supposed to be in school curriculum in Biafraland. Peace to her and to those she left behind. She and the popular Aba women of 1929 exploits should always be mentioned during the Biafran Heroes and Heroins rememberance celebration seasons. Long live Biafra and may God continue to bless Biafra. Amen

    ReplyDelete
  5. May God bless richly every one helped in that painful but en reached struggle.

    ReplyDelete

Responsive Full Width Ad

Copyright © 2019 The Biafra Times
Loading...