For the Records: Ada Nzimiro: First Female Medical Doctor in Igboland

Ada Priscilla Nzimiro, MB ChB (April 30, 1923 – March 22, 1951), a graduate of the University of Glasgow, was the first Igbo woman doctor using modern medical practices in the Igbo region of Eastern Nigeria after her graduation in 1950.

Of Ugwuta (Oguta) ancestry, she was born in Port Harcourt to Richard Okwosha Nzimiro, a politician and the first indigenous mayor of Port Harcourt from 1956 till his death in 1959, and his wife Mary Nwametu Onumonu (1898–1993), a wealthy merchant (initiated by her mother Madam Ruth Onumonu, a wealthy oil palm merchant), political activist, and member of the NCNC who galvanised Igbo women for the Biafran war effort in the late 1960s and lost all her landed properties in Port Harcourt after the war due to anti-Igbo sentiment.

Nzimiro left Nigeria for The University of Glasgow in 1945 to study Medicine and she graduated MB, ChB in 1950 and returned to her hometown in Nigeria, where she unexpectedly died the following year in 1951. She was only 27. Her death came as a huge shock to the entire region, as well as her family and well wishers.

Later reports revealed she died of unnatural causes. She was buried a month after in Oguta, Imo State on April 27, 1951.

After Nzimiro’s death, the William Wilberforce Academy, the first of two secondary schools her parents established at Oguta in 1945, was renamed the Priscilla Memorial Grammar School. This was done in order to honour her memory and record her achievement in the field of medicine.

As the first female medical doctor from her region, Nzimiro inspired many young women to pursue medicine as a career.


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