Taiwo Akinkunmi – The Designer of Nigeria’s National Flag

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Birth and Early Life

Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi, a distinguished figure in Nigerian history, was born on May 10, 1936, in the town of Owu, situated in the heart of Abeokuta, Ogun state. Fate bestowed upon him a unique beginning as he arrived into the world as a twin.

Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi

His early education commenced at the Baptist Day Secondary School in Ibadan in 1949, where he embarked on his primary studies. Later, he continued his educational journey at Ibadan Grammar School (IGS) in 1950, where he embarked on his secondary education, laying the foundation for his remarkable future.

Educational Pursuits and Career

Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi, who hailed from the Yoruba ethnic group, initially lived with his father until the age of eight, at which point he relocated to the Northern region of Nigeria. There, he initiated his early education. Following his father’s retirement, he returned to the Western part of the country and was re-enrolled, this time at the Baptist Day School, Idi-Ikan in Ibadan, successfully completing his primary education in 1949. Subsequently, he entered Ibadan Grammar School in 1950, where he thrived academically, receiving a well-rounded education.

In 1955, Akinkunmi departed from IGS and commenced a career as an agriculturist at the Western Region Secretariat in Ibadan, where he served as a dedicated civil servant. However, his thirst for knowledge led him to seek further education abroad. He secured admission to the Norwood Technical College, now known as Lambeth College, situated in London, to pursue studies in electrical engineering. It was during his time abroad that he etched his name in history by designing the iconic Nigerian flag.

Designing the Nigerian Flag

While studying in London, Akinkunmi stumbled upon an advertisement in a national newspaper in 1958, which called for the submission of designs for Nigeria’s national flag in anticipation of its impending independence from British rule. Inspired and driven by a profound sense of patriotism, he embarked on the task of creating his design, an endeavor that would eventually make history.

Out of approximately 2000 entries submitted, Akinkunmi’s design emerged as the best. His original creation featured a flag with a white band flanked by two green ones, adorned with a red sun emitting radiant rays on the white band. Though the sun was later removed by the overseeing committee, his design was chosen due to its ingenuity and deep symbolism. The green bands symbolized Nigeria’s lush forests and abundant natural wealth, while the white band represented peace. On Nigeria’s Independence Day, October 1, 1960, the flag was officially hoisted, replacing the British Union Jack, and Taiwo Akinkunmi’s legacy was forever sealed. For his exceptional contribution, he received a government award of 100 pounds.

Recognition and Later Life

Throughout his lifetime, Akinkunmi continued to receive accolades for his monumental achievement. He was honored with the MON (Member of the Order of the Niger) Award by President Goodluck Jonathan. Additionally, to celebrate his 77th birthday, a Christian organization called G-Next undertook a home makeover of his residence in Ibadan.

Personal Life and Passing

Taiwo Akinkunmi was a family man, blessed with a wife and children. On August 29, 2023, at the age of 87, he passed away after a brief illness, leaving behind a rich legacy that will forever be intertwined with the history and identity of Nigeria. His design, the Nigerian flag, continues to serve as a symbol of unity, peace, and the nation’s abundant natural resources, a testament to his enduring impact on the country he loved.


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