Born Eleazar Chukwuemeka (Emeka) Anyaoku on 18 January 1933 in Obosi, Nigeria, he attended the Merchants of Light School in Oba and (as a College Scholar) the University College of Ibadan, at the time a college of the University of London and from which he obtained an honours degree in Classics. Chief Anyaoku later attended specialist courses in the United Kingdom and France.
In 1959, Emeka Anyaoku joined the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Following Nigeria’s independence, he was invited to join his country’s diplomatic service and, in 1963, was posted to Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
At the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Chief Anyaoku was elected the third Commonwealth Secretary-General. He was re-elected at the 1993 CHOGM in Limassol, Cyprus, for a second five-year term.
He was succeeded by as Secretary-General by Donald C McKinnon of New Zealand.