I first had the distinct pleasure and honor of meeting Senator Christiana Anyanwu at a private dinner reception, hosted by the Nigerian Consulate-General Office, Atlanta, GA. Her brief visit was also, to receive an award bestowed upon her by NWAG, (Nigerian Women Association of Georgia) at the fundraising and awards banquet, held at ST. Philip AME Church on 07/29/2013. For those of you who may not know her journey so far, below is her biography, list of accomplishments, and why she is a woman with a mission.
Senator Christiana Anyanwu was born in October 28, 1951 in Ahiara. She is a Nigerian journalist, publisher, author, and politician, hailed as one of the female pioneers in Nigerian journalism and broadcasting. She was elected Senator for the Imo East constituency in 2007. She attended Owerri Girls Secondary School before moving to USA where she acquired a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and a Masters Degree in Mass Communication from the University of Missouri and Florida State University respectively.
After graduating, she returned to Nigeria, and worked for the NTA and the Imo Broadcasting Corporation. She was appointed in 1987 as Imo State commissioner for Information, Youth, Sports, Culture and Social Welfare. Following her tenure as commissioner, she became the publisher/editor-in-chief of TSM (The Sunday Magazine).
Anyanwu was arrested following the publication of a story about a failed coup d’état against the government of Sani Abacha – whom she had refused to endorse as president – She and other Nigerian journalists were accused of being “accessories to facts of treason”. Anyanwu was prosecuted in camera by a military court and sentenced to life imprisonment, later reduced to 15 years in October 1995 following pressure from national and international human rights groups. While being held in deplorable conditions in Gombe prison, she went partially blind.
Shortly after her imprisonment, she received the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award, making news around the world. Anyanwu was released by Abacha’s successor General Abdulsalam Abubakar on health grounds. She embarked on a two-year break in Virginia where she wrote the book Days of Terror, based on Nigeria’s struggle during dictatorship. In 2005, Anyanwu opened her radio station and was featured in the PBSFrontline production titled NIGERIA – The Road North;
In 2007, during the Nigerian general election, Anyanwu was elected to the Senate on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party as a representative of Owerri Zone, Imo State, Nigeria. After taking her seat in the Senate she was appointed to committees on Women and Youth, States & Local Government, Millennium Development Goals, Health, Environment and Defense & Army.
What’s next for Senator Chris N.D Anyanwu? The Imo State 2015 Governorship race is not ruled out.