Florence Nwando Onwusi Didigu is the definition of the saying: Patience is a virtue. Fifty years after surviving the brutal two-year Nigeria–Biafra war, Didigu is now a doctorate holder.
The 73-year-old in April graduated from Howard University with Ph.D. in communication, culture, and media studies – a program that trains students on understanding communication challenges within a multicultural world and addresses social justice inequities on a global scale.
The oldest of five sisters, Didigu’s titled her dissertation, “Igbo Collective Memory of the Nigeria – Biafra War (1967-1970): Reclaiming Forgotten Women’s Voices and Building Peace through a Gendered Lens”.
The amazing body of work is a reflection of the Igbo women who, like herself, survived the war, The Howard Newsroom reports.
Didigu said: “The day the Nigeria-Biafra War ended, I, like everyone was wallowing in anxiety and fear about what would happen to us as the vanquished. A very optimistic gentleman came over to me and asked: ‘Why are you so sad; can’t you see you have survived this terrible war?’
“I stood up, even though the Nigerian Airforce was on its last bombing raid, and leaped up in the air in mad glee, repeating to myself and others: ‘Yes, I have survived, I am a survivor!
“This powerful survival instinct in me, which I call daring, and God’s help, are what made me overcome all personal challenges during my doctoral program and get to where I am today!” the prestigious Sasakawa and Annenberg Fellow added.
Carolyn Byerly, Ph.D., Didigu’s advisor and chair of the Communication, Culture and Media Studies doctoral program, eulogized the former producer and writer at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and former broadcast regulator at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as an embodiment of “endurance and intellectual determination.”
“I admire the way she delved inside the most painful period of her life to find the focus of her research on women, war, and peace. While a personally-driven project, she maintained the highest level of integrity and never made the research outcome about herself,” Byerly said.
Didigu plans to enter the professoriate and become a book author.
It was all celebration and joy on May 30, 1967, when the leader of the Republic of Biafra secessionist state, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, declared the independence of the states in the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
The South Eastern Region’s military governor announced a vote to secede from Nigeria after failed reconciliation over killings of approximately 30,000 Igbo people in the post-coup violence which started in September 1966.