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Elizabeth Anionwu shares that songs that shaped her life at Black History Month event

An Irish polka tune, fifties rock and roll and traditional African music were among the song choices of celebrated nurse Elizabeth Anionwu at a Desert Island Discs-style event marking Black History Month.
Elizabeth Anionwu and equality coordinator Wendy Irwin

An Irish polka tune, fifties rock and roll and traditional African music were among the song choices of celebrated nurse Elizabeth Anionwu at a Desert Island Discs-style event marking Black History Month.

In an interview with RCN diversity and equality coordinator Wendy Irwin at the college's London headquarters, Professor Anionwu described the eight songs that have shaped her life, from her childhood in Birmingham to her appointment as professor of nursing at the University of West London.

The event also saw the launch of professor Anionwu's autobiography, Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union.

Following footsteps

Professor Anionwu was born in Birmingham in 1947. Until the age of 9, she lived in a catholic childrens home, while her mother attempted to find work after Elizabeths father returned to Nigeria.

It was

An Irish polka tune, fifties rock and roll and traditional African music were among the song choices of celebrated nurse Elizabeth Anionwu at a Desert Island Discs-style event marking Black History Month.

Elizabeth Anionwu and equality coordinator Wendy Irwin
Elizabeth Anionwu and equality coordinator Wendy Irwin. Picture: David Gee

In an interview with RCN diversity and equality coordinator Wendy Irwin at the college's London headquarters, Professor Anionwu described the eight songs that have shaped her life, from her childhood in Birmingham to her appointment as professor of nursing at the University of West London.

The event also saw the launch of professor Anionwu's autobiography, Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union.

Following footsteps

Professor Anionwu was born in Birmingham in 1947. Until the age of 9, she lived in a catholic children’s home, while her mother attempted to find work after Elizabeth’s father returned to Nigeria.

It was here that she made up her mind to become a nurse, following in the footsteps of the nun who distracted her by making her laugh while treating her painful eczema.

Awarded a CBE in 2001, and a fellowship of the RCN in 2004, Professor Anionwu has made countless contributions to nursing throughout her career, including being a prominent leader of the campaign to honour black nurse Mary Seacole with a statue in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital in London, and her current role as emeritus professor of nursing at the University of West London.

Her song choices were:

  • Rakes of Mallow – Gallowglass Ceili Band
  • Brown Girl in the Ring – Boney M
  • Tritsch-Tratsch Polka Op 214 – Johann Strauss performed by Vienna Opera Orchestra
  • Three Steps to Heaven – Eddie Cochran
  • Monkey Man – Toots and the Maytals
  • L’eau Vive – Guy Beart
  • Omopupa – Dr Victor Olaiya
  • I Am That I Am – Peter Tosh

Further information

An extraordinary life: Elizabeth Anionwu

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