Despite its relatively small landmass, Anambra has produced a fair number of outstanding individuals and a number of firsts in Nigeria. Anambra natives include:
- Nnamdi Azikiwe Owelle of Onitsha – the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and historically, the only man whose name appeared in the Constitution of his country (Nigeria’s Republican Constitution of 1963).
- Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, hails from Okoh town, is a frontline Politician, Architect and the first executive Vice-President of Nigeria, serving 1979 – 1983.
- Nwafor Orizu – hails from Nnewi, the first Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- Dim Emeka Ojukwu – a native of Nnewi, the leader of the secessionist Biafra Republic;
- Professor Chinua Achebe – a native of Ogidi and best known for the classic, Things Fall Apart was the first African writer whose books are standard curricula in schools and universities across the world.
- Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi (born in Aguleri, Anambra State, in September 1903 – died in Leicester, England, January 24, 1964) was an Igbo from Aguleri in Anambra East. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria on December 19, 1937. He worked in the parishes of Nnewi, Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajalli and Aguleri and was later a Cistercian monk at Mount Saint Bernard Monastery in England. Pope John Paul II beatified him on March 22, 1998, saying “Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi is a prime example of the fruits of holiness which have grown and matured in the Church in Nigeria since the Gospel was first preached in this land.”
- Emeka Anyaoku – the first black Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and recipient of South Africa’s Order of the Companions of Oliver Reginald Tambo for his role in initiating talks between the apartheid state and the African National Congress (ANC);
- Engr. (Chief) Marcel Nchekwube Azodo Manafa(late)was born on the 1st day of June 1923 in Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area in Anambra State.
He attended Queens University Belfast in Northern Ireland where he graduated with a First Class Degree in Electrical Engineering. He joined the then Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) where he rose through the professional ranks to serve as the first African General Manager of the Corporation. He was also the first Ibo chartered Electrical Engineer. He became the 12th President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers in 1984 and a member of the Executive Council of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).
- Professor Uche Okeke – a native of Nimo and one of the foremost Nigerian fine artists, founder of the Uli movement.
- Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor, appointed in 2008 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as Military Advisor on UN Peacekeeping Operations. Previously served as Commander of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) Artillery Brigade in Liberia in 1996 and 1997, and as ECOMOG Chief Coordinator of the Liberian elections in July 1997.
- Professor Humphrey Nwobu Nwosu. A Professor of Political Science. Former NEC Chairman. Conducted the freest, fairest and most credible election so far in Nigeria.
- Chinyelu Onwurah, a British Labour Party politician, who was elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament for Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central, becoming the first female British MP of African origin.
- Chuka Umunna, a British Labour Party Member of Parliament for Streatham constituency.
- Professor Kenneth Dike – a pre-eminent scholar of African History and native of Awka, was the first indigenous Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan and founder of the National Archives.
- Professor Ben Enwonwu – a native of Onitsha was the first Nigerian sculptor of international repute with artwork gracing the United Nations headquarters.
- Pius Okigbo, CON – a world-renowned economist, was the first economic advisor to the Federal government of Nigeria (1960–1962), first Nigerian Ambassador to the European Community and renowned for bringing to light over $12 billion missing in oil windfall receipts from the Central Bank of Nigeria during the first Gulf War.
- Professor Samuel Okoye – was black Africa’s first PhD in Radio Astronomy who along with Antony Hewish of the University of Cambridge discovered the radio source of Crab Nebula neutron star.
- Chief Jerome Udoji – from Ozubulu, a social reformer was the first African to be made a ‘D.O’ (District Officer) by the Colonial Administration.
- Amobi Okoye – Youngest American football player to play for the NFL (2004), currently is a free agent.
- Chimamanda Adichie – writer who won the Orange Prize for Fiction (2007) and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2008);
- Dora Akunyili – ex-head of NAFDAC and former (December 17, 2008 – December 15, 2010) Minister of Information won international awards for cleansing Nigeria of the scourge of fake drugs;
- Cardinal Francis Arinze, once considered a potential Pope
- P.N. Okeke-Ojiudu – a politician and Businessman and the first minister of agriculture in the Nigerian first republic.
- Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu – a native of Nnewi who was the first Nigerian millionaire and first president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange;
- Cyprian Ekwensi – MFR, a writer of international repute
- Philip Emeagwali – winner of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for Supercomputing;
- Azikiwe Peter Onwualu, the former Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) .
- Prof Chike Obi – a Mathematician famous for his work on non-differential equations won the 1985 ICTP Price and developed a special solution for Fermat’s Last Theorem;
- Osita Osadebe – a popular Nigerian Highlife musician who also holds the Nigerian record for the highest selling album
- Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo – a famous economist who spearheaded Nigerian economic reform from 1999–2008 and was ex-head of the Central Bank of Nigeria;
- Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy MBE, a London-based visual artist. The first black artist to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II when commissioned to paint the official Golden Jubilee portrait.She was chosen as one of the UK Women of the Year in 2002 and 2003, represented the UK at theCouncil of Europe and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of East Anglia. During 2006 her work was represented on the national postage stamps of six countries. In 2008 she addressed the Cambridge Union Chukwuogo-Roy is a regular contributor to the BBC and other current affairs programmes. In 2009 she was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.