Olivet Heights And Wale Okediran: Rewriting The Fate Of Public Schools In Nigeria
In this piece, my objective is to celebrate the recent ascension of Dr Wale Okediran, medical doctor, public servant and writer extraordinaire, as the president of the Olivet Baptist High School (OBHS), Oyo, National Old Student Association (NOSA). For so many of us, Olivet Heights serves as a constantly unifying juncture that molded all those who attended that educational space and whose futures were somehow molded in one way or the other. Malcolm X once wrote: “My alma mater was books, a good library.” Olivet Heights for me is an alma mater of books. But it is also an alma mater of people. And Dr Okediran is one significant member of that space and remarkable old school that brought up all of us. And this is one choice I heartily applaud. With Dr Okediran, the national association of the OBHS has made the significant statement that the governance of old students’ association makes some fundamental addition to the understanding of the national context within which the association is situated. And this starts from the school itself that generated the association and the national space within which the association must operate. As the national president, Dr Wale Okediran, mediates this issue both as a writer and as a public servant who has a deep understanding of what reform requires.
Dr Wale Okediran was my senior at Olivet Heights, and his accomplishments as public servant, as a medical practitioner and most significantly as a writer, calls to mind the context of our intellectual and character development as students. And at a school whose fame then and now is founded on a firm educational and theological framework of a composite mental and moral development that seeks to make an individual useful both to the future of herself and others. The Olivet Heights that produced Dr Okediran and I is built on a triple heritage of character molding, spartan discipline and the instigation of productive ambition. Students at every level were stimulated into healthy competitions channeled through the quiz competition, the debating society and the competitive sports that gave Olivet Heights some of her glories in the Oyo environs and South-West Nigeria. Some of the significant names in Olivet Heights’ football achievements include notables as Lukula, Bajomo, and specifically in my set, the likes of Wale Odunayo, Willy Siyanbola, and Zege (the son of the famous Thunder Balogun), and Ajibola, his kid brother, Jagou Babayeju, Dipo Otegbade and Dipo Ojedeji. On the track and field, I remember a few names like Alloysius Egbakumeh, Bode Winsala, and Elizabeth Ajayi (now Oyedele) Nike Daramola (now Komolafe). No bona fide students of Olivet Heights in those days will ever forget the memorable chant on the field of football: “Olivet Heights, teach them soccer!”
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No one misses morning devotions at Olivet Heights. Anyone who does, does so on the pain of punishment. The singular motto of the school is direct: Cum Christo Progredere—Forward with Christ! Following the rigour of morning devotion was not a serious challenge for me. I came from a family of committed Baptists; my parents raised the children on a firm basis of Christian spiritual discipline, like the morning altar. While kneeling at the morning altar and invoking the name of Jesus Christ to guide our lives, many of us and our parents lacked the deep theological undertones that gave birth to Baptist beliefs within the heated cauldron on the nature of salvation, grace, and sin. The tenets of beliefs of the Baptist movement were forged in the theological disagreement between Calvinism and Arminianism. Both agree on the total depravity of humans and the substitutionary atonement of Christ, but both differ theologically on the nature of the election of the believers and of grace. While Calvinists hold on to the belief that election to eternal salvation is dependent on God and so cannot be earned, Arminians hold the belief that it is conditional on faith. And on the other hand, while Arminianism argues that God’s grace restores freewill to humans to achieve salvation, Calvinism insists that that grace is given only to those already elected. And yet, all this theological wrangling has nothing to do with the Baptist belief in living a good life in the light of Christ’s examples.
A core part of my present sense of service and professionalism derived in large part from my observation of the dedication of the school faculty—the principals, teachers and administrators, all iconic educationists – from Rev. J.B.P. Lafinhan, 1962-1972; Chief R.F. Fasoranti, 1973-1975; Chief S.O. Omitade, 1975-1977; Chief J.I. Popoola, 1977-1982; to Mr. I.A. Adisa, 1982-1989, who took the different dimensions of their work as a ministry to mold our lives and those of all the others who passed through that citadel. All the curricular and extra-curricular activities had a central goal. It was not difficult for me to find myself in the debating and the quiz teams both of which I led to represent Olivet Heights. The discipline, and joy for me, revolved around the extensive research regime that attended the debating competition. Literature was a delight, especially with my teacher, Mr. I.A. Adisa, who would later become the principal, as well as Mr. Tade Ipadeola, the father of the lawyer and famous poet, Tade Ipadeola. Mr Adisa would later recruit me to take his literature class when he moved to Awe High School. And it was at AHS that I committed the sacrilege of undermining Olivet Heights’ longstanding quiz reign with a resounding defeat by the AHS quiz team I groomed.
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So, the ascension of Dr Wale Okediran as the president of the OBHS National Old Students’ Association generates nostalgia for me, especially at the juncture of our shared dynamics. My formative years as a writer began at Olivet Heights when I started as a member and then later became the editor-in-chief/president of the Olivet Press Club. When Dr Okediran commenced the Ebedi Writers Residency at Iseyin, Oyo State, I was deeply fascinated with the concept, and I had toyed with the idea of a similar project simply for book reading as it explicates public policy discourse which would be an appendage of the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy but situated at Aawe. But then, Okediran’s presidency of the Old Students’ Association and my reminiscing about OBHS inevitably bring up a larger issue: what does the presence and educational dynamics of Olivet Heights spell for the state of public schools in Nigeria today? The existence of NOSA speaks to the enthusiasm and willingness by those who have been molded by its excellent educational and academic tradition to keep the tradition alive for other generations.
How many public schools have the tradition and trajectory of excellence that Olivet Heights possesses? Or how many of them have been able to sustain an erstwhile excellent tradition? Or even, how many public schools were ever able to take off excellently in order to be able to generate an excellent tradition? The public schools constitute the government’s foundational investment into the building of a human capital development that backgrounds the government’s development planning. However, if public schools have become so dysfunctional as to have been overtaken by private schools, whose primary objective is profit, then there are serious foundational problems with Nigeria’s development. Nigeria’s primary school education system is practically in shambles. I should know about this because I was once head of policy division in the Federal Ministry for Education and led the significant Education Sector Analysis that diagnosed Nigeria’s education dynamics. Indeed, the emergence of old students’ association goes beyond the need to give back to one’s alma mater. These associations have become the equivalents of the self-help strategy that Nigerians now adopt, in the wake of Nigeria’s galloping underdevelopment, to shore up what remains of the integrity of public schools in Nigeria. In plain language, old students’ associations are the signifiers of the failure of the Nigerian state to carry out her responsibility to Nigerians. Unfortunately, however, it remains to answer how many of such associations have the means and wherewithal to do what the government is meant to do. Or, even more pungent, how many of these associations are available relative to the number of public schools available to transform Nigeria’s human capital development need?
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This then becomes a clarion call for the Okediran-led administration of NOSA to buckle up about its responsibilities to Olivet Heights, and this more so within the context of a general rot in public schools in Nigeria. If I am permitted, one more matter needs to be added to the task of Dr Wale Okediran and the whole of NOSA—an advocacy campaign for the need to declare an emergency in Nigeria’s education sector. Dr Okediran is more than qualified to get this done. He not only possesses the creative imagination to outline the strategy that NOSA could pursue to achieve this. He also has the public service credentials as a former member of the National Assembly to understand the critical framework of power and its deployment, as well as the critical connections to get this done.
We can no longer continue with a piecemeal approach to individual development in Nigeria, from individual Nigerians to individual public schools. We need a better approach. And the starting point is to achieve consciousness building across the nation. This is my initial challenge to the OBHS-NOSA and its indefatigable leadership, and I shall return to make public their scorecard and to celebrate their achievements to boot. Olivet Height taught us to do good and to do well, and the Okediran-led NOSA should do no less than set standard for old school governance as vanguard for public school reform in Nigeria.
Olaopa is a former Federal Permanent Secretary , and Professor of Public Administration, National Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos.
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African Marginal Identities And The Tyranny Of The Majority
By Toyin Falola
Nothing is far worse than the tyranny of the majority, and if one hides under the primacy of the majority, it will not always be a representation of the truth, reality, and the right perception. The majority can always be wrong. Many of the greatest atrocities in human history are committed by the general subscriptions of the majority and justification thereof. The domination of one group over the others creates a margin in society, casting some into the quest of finding their strength and re-understanding their identities. Africa has more than 1.4 billion people, but with a high rate of diversities, understanding, culture, and conviction. Also, the propensity of general similarities of societal attitudes has exerted similar problems across the continent.
The fate of marginal identities has much to question and a lot to discuss, despite the easy exits Africans take from advancing such discussions and ignoring the obvious. Those with marginal identities are evidence of realities and their discriminations, oppression, and subjugation are disguised issues the continent enjoys suffocating luxuries from and care less about giving the marginals breathing space, which will be discussed in this part. Diversity ought to foster unity and strengthen the development of the continent because of the availability of creative variety, making it a model to all. Unfortunately, ethnic hegemony, fundamentalism, gender domination and subjections, extreme cultural conservativeness, and prejudicial convictions have created more gaps among the people. While these are unsurprising, the deafening silence, oblivion, and discussion-apathy that those who matter in the continent have shown towards the subject put one in fear of what is yet to come.
Millions of Africans die year in and year out from the hegemony of the majority, which drives many into psychological and physical damage. One then tends to ask what the fate of minorities would be in years to come. The LGBTQI+ persons are victims of entire citizenries and systems, including rural dwellers who make up about 52.13 percent of Africans and are destructively cut off from the mainstream supply lines; refugees, displaced and stateless individuals subjected to inhuman treatments, constant persecution, and wasting away at borders and camps despite the supposed celebrated African unity mentality; slaves and pawns that society have drawn out their wills to the hands of some wicked individuals; disabled people with lesser societal attentions, with the few given to them objectized; marginalized ethnic groups; politically disadvantaged women and youth; secluded women; and people living with albinism. Many of these are common marginal identities with daily unfavorable encounters with others.
The level of diversity in Africa has necessitated the rise in marginal identities and their marginalization rate. While it is desirable to keep the tenets of culture intact at all times, one fundamental characteristic of culture is its susceptibility to change and its ability to accommodate those changes, expand, and adapt them with contemporariness subjected to the details of the people. Societies change, and Africa has seen several developments in ethical values in recent times as many of our convictions are questioned and their continuous viabilities are in doubt. The influx of globalization and modern cultural advancements that have diffused into Africa has allowed people to gain and regain consciousness about their identity and re-construe the perspective understanding of who they are.
Society is ideologically expanding on all fronts and there is nothing anyone can do about it, no matter how long parts of society hold back. Do not get me wrong; I do not state that African cultural values should change or that the novel perspectives about values should displace the traditional preconceptions that would be a step towards attracting identity loss and defeating all the aims of Pan-Africanism and Africanism endeavors made in the past and striving in the presence. The position is that the culture must adjust to accommodate people who are inhumanly subjected to identical massacre, personality conflict and oppression. It is to say that the culture should shell off dangerously prejudicial values. For instance, the killing of twins was part of the etymological conviction of the Efik people in Nigeria, who believed the children were a bad omen. Such trials by ordeal and other similar cultures have given way because of their negative impacts on society, despite the resistance of some people. This is the same spirit of logic I draw this disposition from and it compounds the need for cultural adjustment.
Issues around LGBTQI+ persons in Africa are one of the most controversial subjects of discussion to raise in Africa, even among scholars. This stems from Africans’ understanding of the subject as there is a general disposition about it because of its strong contradiction of several African cultural values and ethics. Gender and sexuality are core to African institutions, defining all activities and behavioral spaces in which people operate. As a result, one will understand the disposition of the continent to non-conformist sexualities and societal reactions to them. In several quarters, they are perceived to be an abomination to society, which may attract spiritual repercussions because of their capacity to degrade social contracts and fibers. Therefore, one cannot claim that the boasts of Africa in the spirit and existence of diversity spread to tolerance towards the LGBTQI+ community. This explains the disposition of the African governments and the jamborees of anti-gay or anti-sodomy legislations and policies that limit the constitutional rights of people with different sexualities.
Harsh societal reactions, vulnerability, and marginalization towards the LGBTQI+ community is a global phenomenon, as has been asserted by the Human Right Watch report in 2015, but Africa takes a strong position in antagonistic dispositions. Aside from cultural disposition, a strong angle to understanding the people’s reactions towards the community is the level of understanding an average African has about members of the community. Africa sees the identity as an emerging and novel culture inherited from Eurocentric domination and American influence rather than biological or instinctive orientations. Furthermore, Africans discuss it in lieu of spiritual conditioning that points against the emotional states of the African minds. Hence, they are subject to public criticism, embarrassed on the streets, sometimes stripped naked to “shame the devil,” and killed in the most inhuman manners on very bad days. But LGBTQI+ persons are human first, and many of them get their sexual orientations beyond their will and control. Would “what is” be considered non-existent? No matter how biased society might be, it is important to protect the people who identify as such, first as a human, before considering sexuality.
Another identity worth contemplating is women who continuously fall victim to societal bias against the role of women and the understanding of women. Africa has a special hierarchical approach to social structure, and after the advent of colonialism, the response to the status of women has worsened from the level and rate of patriarchal prejudice that existed before. However, one must state that the continent has been moving positively towards gender inclusion and reconstructing the role of women. Politics, social roles, sexualities, and identification are problems women face in African society. There is large political marginalization in terms of contesting or participating in roles and elections. Although the political spaces in Africa have been opening up to women, the continent has seen female presidents and leaders like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Slyvie Kiningi, Ivy Matsepe-Cassaburi, Rose Francine Rogombe, Joyce Hilda Banda, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Sahle-Work Zewde, Samia Suluhu Hassan, and other influential female African leaders. In the Nigerian 2023 general elections, there was a considerable increase in the number of female voters–52.5% were male voters, and a close 47.5% were female. However, females still face social discrimination in the continent as several believe that the only place they can function is the home.
In addition, millions of African women still live in seclusions in one form or the other, including Purdah systems, widowhood, and different religio-cultural conditionings. Some of them are cut off from the rest of society, incapacitating them and reducing their role in the developmental process of the continent. This results from beliefs, as several of the secluded women are not victims but have done so intentionally. Hence, addressing marginalization in this context must be done within the confines of culture and tradition. Women’s sexuality is taken very seriously in an average African society. It is the reason for many conservative cultures and opinions about women and a driving factor behind the evils of female genital mutilation and rigid sexual rules around women. The sacred African angles to women’s sexuality have brought about spiritual constructions that have attracted nebulous assaults and ritualism towards women because of the conception that they are especially spiritually different.
Also, ethnic differences and conflicts result from marginalization, creating compulsory but strong marginal identities. The diverse characteristics of the continent have brought about the existence of small minority groups shocked by the hegemonies of the majority. Crisis in Ethiopia, rivalries in Zimbabwe, agitations in Nigeria, unrests in Rwanda and Burundi, Kenyan wars, and other unrest in Mali and others are largely traceable to ethnic marginalization and domination. This has claimed millions of lives on the continent and has rendered many helpless. Ethnicity is the test of African unity and the continent is failing woefully in this regard.
In 2021, it was stated that Africa has about 52.13% of its population dwelling in rural areas. This shows that sometimes majority and minority factors are not often based on the number in comparison but influence in comparison. Burundi alone has about 85.94% of its population living in rural areas. According to the World Bank, there are no less than 687,081,738 Africans in rural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. Individuals are the majority but have minority voices and influence, except in certain situations. Interestingly, the food-producing populations are rural dwellers, yet development often passes over them. This continuous marginalization of these people is as dangerous to the continent as taking slow and gradual poisons. On a larger scale, this goes to the root of refugees, stateless, and displaced persons who are not considered key to societal constructions.
People living with disabilities are another identity that society has not been able to open its arms towards, and when such sympathy is done, it is often done in the most embarrassing forms. Africans have generally stereotyped people with disability with some level of condemnation. It does not matter what one does; as far as one is living with a disability, you are considered poor and discriminated against because society does not expect any level of mental or physical ability from people with disabilities. It is more pitiful that a spiritual status is attached to these persons, making them vulnerable to abuse, violence, ritual killing, and objectification. More particularly, people with albinism, hunchbacks, twins, and others with special forms of birth are subjected to consistent violations, abuse, and ritualism. Countries like Tanzania, Malawi, Nigeria, and others have reported cases of grievous assaults and killings of people with albinos. They are often seen as ritual objects and materials for power.
Notably, the first step towards achieving reasonable solutions is to allow society to become more tolerant through awareness and collaborative approaches. There is a need for orientation change across Africa and the development of enforceability measures. Without a doubt, solutions to several of these discriminatory social convictions are not in aggressive movements, as many international and non-profit organizations have taken gradual steps that incorporate cultural and traditional peculiarities.
(Prt 1 of the Extract of the 2023 Audrey Richards Distinguished Public Lecture, University of Cambridge, June 7, 2023).
Think Aloud: Beyond Literacy and Numeracy In Schools
By Leo Igwe
Think Aloud is an initiative by the Critical Thinking Social Empowerment Foundation to foster critical thinking culture in schools, and in the society at large. The goal is to realize a sociocultural change and substitute a culture of suppression of questions with a habit of expression of doubts and critical viewpoints. The poor state of education and schooling is often rooted in limited focus and appreciation of these mental skills. Educational authorities put much emphasis on literacy, that is, the ability to read, write and effectively communicate. And numeracy, the ability to understand and work with numbers. No doubt, these skills are foundational to education and learning. But they are not enough. For instance, in an attempt to improve the quality of education, the government launched a program, Read Aloud. This initiative encourages children to read out loud, to improve their proficiency in reading, comprehension and communication. This program aims to create and stimulate interests of children in reading books and other forms of literature. It is a part of the effort to improve the reading culture in schools and society at large. To this end, the Lagos state government has been promoting “Read Aloud Lagos”. It urges parents and families to read aloud every day for 20 minutes so that children can develop and become lifetime readers. According to the Read Aloud Lagos web site, the program “builds many important foundational skills, introduces vocabulary, provides a model of fluent, expressive reading, and helps children recognize what reading for pleasure is all about”.
Indeed, reading is the bedrock of learning and comprehension. It helps in nourishing the mind. Without a robust reading culture, children cannot effectively communicate or express themselves. Their ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding is impaired. While it is important to teach children to read, and get them to improve their use and knowledge of words, it is equally pertinent to get them to think about what they read, and communicate. Children are by nature curious and inquisitive. It is necessary to encourage them to fully exercise their curiosity and inquisitiveness, to question and interrogate the texts that they read. In many cases what children read or are made to read are not true or are partially so. Many texts contain gaps in reasoning and construction, incorrect ideas and mistaken opinions. They misrepresent issues, and portray one-sided views and representations.
So, while it is important to encourage children to read aloud, it is imperative to equip them with questioning skills and complement their reading program with an initiative that emphasizes critical thinking, reflection and interrogation. It is necessary to give children and families the tools and facilities that can enable them to ponder and contemplate, think aloud, yes critically reason aloud.
As a part of this program, participants, in this case, children, are made to generate questions without inhibitions. They are nudged to give free rein to their curious and inquisitive minds. They are encouraged to ask any questions that occur to them; questions that go through their minds while performing particular tasks, and while carrying out everyday duties and assignments. The program is predicated on the notion that humans have and habor questions from childhood to adulthood, from the cradle to the grave. Human beings are questioning beings, Homo interrogans. They entertain doubts and objections in all areas of human endeavour. Interrogation of issues is a part of the human makeup, mental operations and intellectual chemistry. Questions occur or pop up in the minds of people while performing various tasks. Many people refrain from asking questions due to the heavy price and penalty on interrogation of issues and authorities. Questions are part and parcel of everyday experiences. Questions draw attention, and enlighten. Questions try to foreground sides, aspects and forms too often ignored or overlooked. Questions accentuate human sense of taste, and appetite for knowledge, the hunger for wisdom and the quest for truth and understanding. Questions form a key part of the human learning process. They drive human curiosity, exploration, investigation and sense of inquiry. Incidentally, many questions largely go unexpressed or suppressed due to a lack of space, program or opportunity to openly and publicly ask them. Many questions do not see the light of the day due to dogmatic and authoritarian vested interests, due to a culture that rewards and makes a virtue out of blind faith and unquestionability, rote learning, memorization and regurgitation of whatever has been taught or preached. The program, Think aloud, is an effort and initiative to change this culture of learning and foster curiosity and inquisitiveness in children. It aims to transform the educational sector by encouraging free interrogation of ideas, texts, issues and experiences in schools.
Education authorities should embrace this initiative, and seize the opportunity to improve the quality of learning in schools. Children should be taught to read and numerate. But more importantly, children should be taught to question what they read and numerate.
Dr. Igwe directs Critical Thinking Social Empowerment Foundation
Toyin Falola: Foremost African Historian Wins Lifetime Achievement Award
By Olusola Ogunnubi
On Wednesday, May 31st, 2023, US-based Nigerian renowned historian, Professor Toyin Falola, was awarded the distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) for his contributions to African Studies. The entire hall was full of elevation, and the side talk was that this was one of the best decisions ever made by CAAS.
CAAS is the umbrella body for scholars and practitioners dedicated to promoting the study of Africa in Canada, and according to its website, the Lifetime Achievement Award is indeed the highest honour of the Association awarded to senior scholars who have been actively involved in CAAS and have retired or about to retire. In the words of Prof Nduka Otiono, President of the Association, “this esteemed accolade recognizes your exceptional contributions, unwavering dedication, and profound impact on the field of African Studies in Canada and beyond”. According to the CAAS website, the selection of Falola for this prestigious award was on the merit of three criteria: (1) a lifetime of sound scholarship, (2) accomplishments (research, teaching and mentoring awards, etc.) and (3) involvement in the activities of CAAS. The award was formally presented to him during the CAAS Annual General Meeting and Conference hosted at York University, where coincidentally, Toyin Falola had been a professor between 1990 and 1991. Prof Falola stands in the illustrious company of previous awardees, including Prof Paul Lovejoy. The CAAS Distinguished Lifetime Award was the first awarded to a scholar in over five years.
Toyin Falola is a professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities. He was also previously The Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History, a position he held from 1995 to 2012. His research is focused on African History since the nineteenth century, African Diaspora, Epistemologies, Theories and Methodologies. Professor Toyin Falola’s contributions to the field of African Studies and African History have continued to place Africa on the map of global recognition. Not only is Falola’s scholarship recognized globally, but he is also dedicated to mentoring a new generation of young and emerging scholars in the social sciences, arts and humanities. He also convenes the Annual Africa Conference, a platform for knowledge exchange between scholars from Africa and the diaspora. I had the honour of attending the Africa Conference in 2012, where Falola generously accommodated me in his house after the conference along with other guests from Africa. As a postgraduate student attending the conference from South Africa, this short period of interaction would eventually shape my resolve to aspire to greater heights within the academic space.
In 1981, Prof Falola finished his doctorate in History from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where he completed his thesis on “The Political Economy of Ibadan, c.1830-1900.” Remarkably, more than 40 years after his first PhD, professor Falola earned a D.Litt in African Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 2020. Professor Falola receives 16 honorary doctorates and over 40-lifetime awards from several universities and countries. A brief list includes Monmouth University (2007), City University of New York (2013), Lincoln University (2015), University of Jos (2015), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (2018), Redeemer’s University, Nigeria (2017) Federal University, Lokoja (2021) among others. Falola has also previously been appointed to several distinguished honours, honorary professorships and visiting fellowships at various universities, including the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Centre for African Studies (2018-2022), Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, National Open University, Abuja (2019-2021), Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South, Library of Congress (2016), Pontifícia Universidade Católica De São Paulo, Brazil (2007); Humanities Research Council, Australian National University in 1995.
Interestingly, Falola helped organize the CAAS conference at York University in 1991, where he started his career in North America. He had also previously delivered a keynote address at the CAAS Conference 1991 and again at the just concluded 2023 CAAS conference. In over 40 years since he left Canada for the US, Falola has continued to make an impact on the Canadian and the North American academic landscape in general through his invaluable contribution to CAAS, serving as external examiner to major Canadian universities, including Queen’s University, York University, Trent University, Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto, helping to shape the academic depth of the African Studies programs in Canada and being a mentor to Canada-based Africanist scholars. Notably, Falola has supervised over 100 Master’s thesis and Doctoral dissertations in History and African Studies and examined countless theses and dissertations. CAAS also acknowledges and recognizes Falola’s invaluable contribution as a reviewer for the Canadian Journal of African Studies and his longstanding role as a member of the editorial board of the Harriet Tubman Series on the African Diaspora at York University.
Given his excellent and distinguished scholarship and its impact across disciplines, it is not surprising that this is not the first such prestigious lifetime award that Prof Falola has received. Some of his previous awards include the Distinguished Africanist Award in 2011 by the African Studies Association (ASA), which is the largest global Association by scholars of Africa, Nigeria’s highest National Merit Award – Member of Order of the Niger (MON) awarded by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022, Award of Excellence in recognition of support of tertiary education by Lagos State University in August 2022, Distinguished Award for Intellectual Contributions to Knowledge and Scholarship, University of Abuja, Nigeria (July 2021), Distinguished Award for Scholarship and Mentorship, Babcock University, (June 2021), Distinguished Africana Award, University of North Carolina, Charlotte (April 2011) among many others.
Several celebratory legacies and honours have also been named in recognition of Falola’s exemplary contribution and scholarship to African Studies. One such honour is the Toyin Falola Annual Conference on Africa and the African Diaspora (TOFAC), inaugurated in 2011 by the University of Ibadan Cultural Group (ICSG). TOFAC is a huge annual conference convened in an African university on different themes. Also, the Toyin Falola Book Award is administered by the Association of Global South Studies for the best book on Africa. Lunaris Review also awards the Toyin Falola Literary Prize, named after him for his contributions to advancing African cultures, people, and histories. Falola is also Series Editor for at least a dozen monographs and Encyclopaedias and has served on several Book Prize Committees.
Professor Falola has also led major academic associations, including as President of the African Studies Association (2014-2015) and the Nigerian Studies Association (2005-2007). He has also received several traditional titles, including the Bobagbimo of Ugboland in 2014, the Agbakin of Kusela-Ibadan in 2022 and Nii Kpani Ashaabla 1 of Adabraka Otukpai Palace, Accra, Ghana, among others.
Receiving the Award at the ceremony held to round off the CAAS conference, Falola expressed his gratitude to the Board and Members of the Association, seeing the recognition as a responsibility to continue to do more to extend the frontiers of African epistemic traditions. Falola lauds the Association for leading the intellectual path for the advancement of African Studies globally through the creation of opportunities for critical debates, research engagements, knowledge exchange and interactive space between academia, government and other non-state actors to drive policies and a commitment to ensuring that the systemic issues that Africa and Africans face are confronted through meaningful scholarship.
Professor Falola is today honoured because he’s been a solid and unforgettable part of CAAS’s contribution to African Studies. Prof Falola is humble to the core, and there’s a lot that old and new scholars in the field can learn from his humanity, simplicity and sincere concern for the academic well-being of everyone.
. Ogunnubi writes from the Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University, Canada.
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