Florence Nwando Onwusi Didigu (Courtesy of Howard University)
Florence Nwando Onwusi Didigu (Courtesy of Howard University)

At age 73, Florence Nwando Onwusi Didigu has proven it’s never too late to accomplish yet another goal: earning her doctorate in Communication, Culture and Media Studies as a member of the Howard University Class of 2020.

Didigu’s dissertation and future book, both titled “Igbo Collective Memory of the Nigeria – Biafra War (1967-1970): Reclaiming Forgotten Women’s Voices and Building Peace through a Gendered Lens,” is a reflection of the Igbo women who, like herself, survived war. As the oldest of five sisters, she graduated this weekend from Howard armed with her fourth degree and as a prestigious Sasakawa and Annenberg Fellow.

“In my second year at Howard, and very close to my screening test, I lost my mother and my father within months,” Didigu said in an HU interview. “I had to return to Nigeria each time to perform the demanding burial ceremonies for each. I was completely deflated, both physically and emotionally, but I persevered because my father always wanted me to be a ‘Doctor.’”

Didigu, who was once a producer and writer at the Nigerian Television Authority, and a broadcast regulator at the National Broadcasting Commission in Nigeria, said her life’s work is to elevate more Igbo women’s voices. “[There was a time when] I was unable to speak clearly; this was the greatest tragedy of all, since I was teaching a sophomore research course,” she said. “The day I started speaking again and was discharged from the hospital was a special life moment.”

Didigu now plans to become a professor and book author and to continue research and scholarly writings. She also wants to mentor students.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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