Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi (OFR) was born on the 10th of May 1936. He is a retired Nigerian civil servant and famous for designing Nigeria’s national flag at the age of 23, and he is commonly called ‘Mr. Flag Man’
He is widely celebrated and honoured. He is one of the very few Nigerians that is decorated with the ‘Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR)’ honours; the third-highest national honour in Nigeria.
Below is a biography of Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi, the man who designed Nigeria’s national flag.
Taiwo Akinkunmi Early Life, Career
Akinkunmi was born Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi in Ibadan, of Yoruba origin. He lived with his father until age 8 before he relocated to the Northern part of Nigeria. He began his early education in the North. After his father’s retirement, he came down to the Southern Western part of Nigeria and was re-enrolled at Baptist Day School, Idi-Ikan in Ibadan. He finished from Baptist Day School Idi-kan in 1949 and proceeded to Ibadan Grammar School (IGS) in 1950 where he had a very good education.
He left Ibadan Grammar School (IGS) in 1955 and took an appointment as an agriculturist at the Western Region Secretariat in Ibadan as a civil servant. He would then work some years before gaining admission to the Norwood Technical College in London where he studied electrical engineering. While studying there, he designed the Nigerian Flag.
He returned to Nigeria in 1963 and went back to the agricultural department at the secretariat in Ibadan to continue where he stopped. He worked as a civil servant until 1994 and retired as Assistant Superintendent of Agriculture. He was honored with Officer of the order of Federal Republic (OFR) on 29 September 2014 at the conference center Abuja.
Akinwunmi & The National Flag
Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi entered the competition for the design of the Nigerian national flag which he came across in a library. In his own words, “I took details of what and what is expected to design a flag that would be used by a country that was about to witness the independence. I took part in the competition and my design was selected as the best in the year 1958.”
He is married with a wife and children. Taiwo Akinkunmi always wears the colours of the flag he designed as part of his attire, usually wearing a green Yoruba cap, and painted his house with a green-white-green pattern. In some cases, a muffler of the Nigerian flag around his neck as seen in several of his outings.
Now fondly referred to as Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi, the man behind the Nigerian flag was reportedly living in abject poverty and went uncelebrated by successive Nigerian governments, something which made him earn favours from several quarters, including Nigerian celebrities.
He was reportedly placed on a N500,000 monthly stipend for life by the Nzenweofor Group at the just concluded maiden edition of the LACLIC GOLDEN HEROES AWARD held at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel Abuja, in August 2019.
The Octogenarian remains a national figure in Nigeria and is touted as a national hero; one of whom contributed to Nigeria’s story.