Nigeria mourns the loss of a visionary as Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi, the remarkable creator of the nation’s flag, has passed away at the age of 84. He departed in the early hours of Tuesday following a short battle with illness. The sad news was conveyed by one of his children through a heartfelt Facebook post.
In his emotional tribute, the child wrote, “Life is indeed transient; I can say boldly that you lived a life with a landmark. Continue to rest, my father! Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi (O.F.R.): A great man has gone.”
The journey of Nigeria’s iconic flag design began in 1958 when Akinkunmi, then residing abroad, spotted an advertisement in a national daily seeking designs for the upcoming national flag. With Nigeria on the brink of independence from British rule, this call for entries held immense significance.
From over 2,000 submissions, Akinkunmi’s design was chosen. Initially featuring a white band bordered by two green ones, along with a red sun and radiant beams on the white segment, the design went through adjustments. The committee overseeing the decision eventually removed the sun. Akinkunmi’s creation stood out for its ingenuity and profound symbolism.
The flag’s composition is laden with meaning: the green bands represent the country’s lush forests and abundant natural resources, while the white stripe embodies the aspiration for peace. This emblem was proudly raised on October 1, 1960, marking Nigeria’s Independence Day and replacing the British Union Jack. For his extraordinary contribution, Akinkunmi was awarded 100 pounds.
Hailing from Abeokuta in Ogun State, Akinkunmi was born on May 10, 1936, though he spent his life in Ibadan. His educational journey included attending Baptist Day Secondary School and Ibadan Grammar School in Ibadan for his secondary education. Starting his career as a civil servant at the Ibadan Secretariat, he later pursued studies in Agricultural Engineering at Norway Technical College.
Beyond his iconic design, Akinkunmi’s impact was acknowledged with the MON (Member of the Order of the Niger) honor bestowed upon him by President Goodluck Jonathan. As Nigeria bids farewell to a visionary artist, his legacy lives on in the vibrant colors and symbolism of the nation’s flag, an enduring representation of his creative brilliance and dedication to his country.