Comrade Dr. Mayirue Eyeniegi Kolagbodi was born on August 26, 1926 in Ughoton via Warri, Delta State. He attended Lafiagi Primary School, Lagos between 1934 and 1940, and was a student of St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, from 1940 – 45. It was at this period, he came in contact with the foremost nationalist leader Herbert Macaulay in the early 1940’s and this had a profound influence in his later life. He became a young Zikist, nationalist, and anti-colonial fighter in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence. (Excerpts)
He participated actively in the Zikist Movement’s struggle against colonial domination between 1944 and 1951. A striking example was the 1947-49 struggle against color bar, which forced open the gates of Bristol Hotel and all other socio-cultural facilities that were hitherto of the exclusive privileges of the white colonialists, to all races without discrimination. It was also, at this period that M.E. Kolagbodi, consistent with the principle of high ranking Zikists of the time changed his name from Martins Emmanuel to Mayirue Eyeniegi as a symbol of disdain to colonialism.
Interrupting his trade union and revolutionary activities, Kolagbodi proceeded for further studies in 1952 to Humboldt University Germany on “one of the foreign scholarships awarded by East European countries to the children, relations and compatriots of the victims of the Iva Valley Massacre. He was always proudly saying: “Iva Valley Made Me”. In the interview he granted to the Vanguard on its Labor page “Iva Valley Made Me” in the 1980s, he believes that without the struggle of the workers, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity of the scholarship that made him to acquire the Doctorate degree. And for this, he remained grateful and committed till the end of his life to the cause of Nigerian workers.
Read More: 23rd-Kolagbodi Lecture (History)