Born in 1914 to Igbo peasant farmers in Ifite Dunu, Anambra State, Nigeria, Zaccheaus Onumba Dibiaezue was the fourth of eight children.
Showing signs of academic excellence from an early age with a hunger for knowledge and education, Zacchaeus would hawk fruits after school to buy oil for the lamp he used to study at night.
The premature death of his father when he was in primary school brought his formal education to an abrupt end but as the self-learner that he had become, he successfully passed the examinations required to join the colonial civil service. He joined initially as a tax clerk but later became a policeman rising quickly to the rank of Inspector. Fuelled by a desire to pursue formal education abroad, he was once again through self-learning, discipline and tenacity able to pass the examinations required to study at the best English universities.
He went to England in 1952 to study Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science and simultaneously enrolled at Lincoln’s Inn where he sat for and passed the English Bar exams. On his return to Nigeria four years later with his young family, he set up a legal practice. He then went on to become the first company secretary of one of the largest Nigerian banks at the time – African Continental Bank; Executive Chairman of the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation; Commissioner of Finance and Commissioner of Agriculture in the East Central State.
Zacchaeus had a passion for knowledge, self-development and philanthropy. He focused on empowering disadvantaged young people of promise (like he once was), and enabling a Nigerian education system that could easily compete with the rest of the world.
He died on the 16th of July 1975 but his legacy lives on through the work of Zacchaeus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries.