By Toyin Falola
Early last year, in distress, I called Dr. Samson Ijaola of Glorious University to ask him a question that was not allowing me to sleep: why are “big boys” asking me for money? It is unusual for them to do so because they usually do well financially. I often visit “big boys” in their houses in different parts of the country with two or three cars parked outside. When those in the US and Europe boast of their houses and offices, I mock them that they live in “Boys’ Quarters” and wood cabins with bricks plastered on them. Nigerian professors are among those whom I affectionately call the “big boys.” Whenever we hang out, they don’t want me to buy drinks or pepper soup as they want to entertain me. They are generous. They even carry food and beverages to my hotel room, lavishing one person with what could feed a dozen. The drivers are happy as they cart away rice, swallow, and protein. I love the names given to our rich organic foods. I love it more when I replace swallow with ororo, the elegantly creative name given to brandy and whisky.
I had not seen enough. I asked my question too early, counting my harvest before the locust invasion. Then came the long strike of 2022, and many more were begging, this time not for big amounts but even small ones, as in N10,000. I would give as requested but cry afterwards. I was emotionally tormented. Should professors beg for money? No, not at all. Never! Should professors be wealthy? No, not based on salaries earned from their regular jobs. They can use their extra time to do other things, as professors do in my part of the world, where many end up as Associates and run small businesses. Should they be comfortable relative to the economic productivity of the country? Yes. An occupation as high-scaled as this should not reduce professionals to beggars. Nothing can be more depressing.
Then came other appeals to leave the country. Japa! Any job will do, even driving a cab in Chicago. A country should not find itself in this kind of a mess. The public may be angry at the incessant strikes as they affect the lives of millions of young men and women who must be in school to lay the foundation for their future success. The conditions of service must improve, and the narrative must be rebranded. I am not saying that one occupation is better than another, and all citizens render equally important services. I am not treating professors under the rubric of exceptionalism but as dignified citizens whose occupations create multiplier effects.
Rather than being the recipients of gratitude, professors are scorned and ridiculed at various levels. The negotiations are neither respectful nor cordial at the federal government level. I was part of a small group that went to prostrate ourselves before politicians who were unqualified to register for my classes to appeal to Aso Rock to seek all means to end the last strike. Those who steal billions of naira in Abuja now regard themselves as fellow thieves, along with some professor-administrators who steal peanuts. I am not justifying theft. Professors should not steal, but a career label does not define a thief. A transgression by one professor is extended to all professors as if the criminal has no name. Name the criminal, but don’t tarnish all the innocent ones who are honest and diligent. Parents who offer bribes to secure admissions for their children and wards do not see themselves contributing to the system’s rot. They can bribe today to obtain admissions to rewarding occupational paths and cry tomorrow that their children are not in school.
Unmotivated students who see no future for themselves heap the blame on innocent lecturers who are not tasked with planning the economy and politics of the nation. Universities do not create jobs but enable environments and human capacities. Those who elevated Vice-Chancellors to CEOs because of political calculations and co-optation do not realize the danger of creating hierarchies in the system. You cannot create an Emperor and avoid ruthless clerks and tax collectors. You cannot collect bribes from your CEOs as they receive their allocations and ask them not to dispense some largesse.
If people are underpaid, will they not seek the means to augment their salaries? Is it thinkable that a cab driver in New York, who fled Nigeria because he failed all exams in high school and could not gain admission into any Nigerian university, now boasts that he is better than a Zoology professor at the University of Ibadan? Former students who graduated from Nigerian universities now tarnish the image of their former teachers, proclaiming their intellectual superiority over those older than their parents. As the ridicule continues, a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, with the motto “The First and the Best,” can be invited to come and learn how to publish in a Western university as if the system in Nigeria is bankrupt. How did he obtain a PhD in the first instance if he did not know how to publish?
Regarding himself as hungry, a senior lecturer can jump at the offer of a hotel room after being told that a publishable paper can be produced over the weekend. Anyone who cannot publish at their permanent place of work cannot produce one at a five-star hotel in New York. A silent worker at the University of Maiduguri, doing excellent teaching and research, is being undermined by loudmouths on social media who tell us when they cough from their lonely spaces in London. Colonizers come in various forms and are no longer white in colour. There are now local proxies to serve as agents of imperialism, not fighting with us to stop the illicit flow of the $90 billion that leaves Africa each year but boasting about the $5000 they receive from money stolen from Africa in the first instance to distribute to poor lecturers from where the money comes from in the first instance. They are no different from the chiefs and kings who sold Africans to the Atlantic slave trade between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.
“Professor What!” This is where the Nigerian academy is headed. Will that “what” not eventually bring us all down, irrespective of our location? We should halt this dangerous process to restore optimism in our institutions and collective future. We should not only be angry at the leadership and political system but also seek the means to create sanity in institutions, elevate the worth of those who have invested resources in self-development and career elevation, and exercise caution in making public statements that ridicule our people. Our citizens at home will be our development agents. The professor struggling to train students at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto is far more important than the one in any Western university who is no more than a careerist with limited impact on our people. Far more important than me is a professor at the University of Port Harcourt who does good teaching and grades 200 papers in one semester. He is producing citizens that will elevate the nation. What he needs from me is intellectual collaboration, not arrogance that demeans his intellect and capacity.
A little digression is necessary to bring up my key points. The evolution of higher education and the academic profession is strongly related to the history of the professorship. A professor in ancient Rome was a public lecturer or educator specially called upon and received payments for lectures on various societally influencing topics. When universities started to develop as hubs of learning and research in the Middle Ages, the function of professors expanded to encompass not just teaching and reforming perspectives but also doing research and advancing knowledge in their area of specialization. The position of professors has evolved as universities have grown more established and diversified. Today, professors across the globe are valued academics with advanced degrees in their fields of specialization charged with the obligations of instructing, researching, and advancing the body of knowledge in their fields and, more importantly, reforming the perspectives that advance development and growth in their society. There is a non-monetary social prestige attached to the occupation.
In Nigeria, the history of professorship can be traced to the establishment of the first university in 1948. In the early years of higher education in Nigeria, professors were primarily foreign academics hired to teach at the new university. These individuals were primarily from Europe and North America, but as time passed, an increasing number of Nigerian scholars started to acquire advanced degrees and work in academia. Today, academics from Nigeria and outside who teach and conduct research in various fields make up the diversified community of professors. As of 2019, data from Statista show that Nigeria has more than 11 000 professors in its institutions of learning. Current data add another 1000.
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In the Nigerian academic system and across the globe, professors are the most senior academics, constituting a distinct and separate labour unit under their scholarship, hard work, and resilience toward advancing the body of knowledge and refining a teeming generation through teaching and character development. In most cases, the responsibilities they are saddled with often require much of their time and personal commitment, tying them to teaching, constant research, writing and publishing, and participating in committees and other institutional or professional groups. Undoubtedly, the demands can be labour-intensive and highly intellectually demanding for anyone engaged in this activity. But this is the path our professors have chosen to tread, and as a nation, we ought to recognize and appreciate every effort they put in to build a better and clearer future for us.
Although the position of a professor is prestigious and desirable, it is mocked in Nigeria’s academic and political system. Given that the position is the highest obtainable promotion/rank, and considering their academic and research obligations, one would expect societal recognition for their contributions to knowledge advancement in society and commensurate financial remuneration for the value they provide. However, this is far from being true in Nigeria. On average, the net salary of a professor in Nigeria is at ₦400,000 per month. To the nearest USD, this is equivalent to $850 (at the official exchange rate or $550 at the street market rate). Compared to other countries, a professor in the United States earns an average of $6,164 per month, a professor in Canada earns an average of $92,000 per year, and a professor in the United Kingdom earns between £3,500 and £5,000 monthly. In a more similar economy to that of Nigeria, professors in South Africa receive a net salary of R527,137, an equivalent of $30,974 when converted to USD.
The truth is, while professors in Nigeria engage in identical responsibilities as their colleagues in other climes, what makes the difference is the country, Nigeria, in which ours have unfortunately found themselves. The country does not adequately recognize their inputs nor the ripple effects such inputs have on the country’s advancement, and it sparsely recognizes their value with a monthly salary that is nothing but an insult to their achieved status.
Interestingly, the real significance of the impact of the ASUU/FG negotiations and the treatment meted out to ASUU has far-reaching consequences for the Nigerian workforce. The most evident is the depletion of other professionals through migration. The exodus of the most productive class, individuals, families, teams, and top civil servants, who continue to migrate is not dissociated from the posture toward higher education in Nigeria. The reality is that almost every member of the existing workforce is affected by matters relating to the Nigerian University System, either by having a relative who is an academic or offspring, siblings, or spouses who are undergraduates or postgraduate students. The rippling effect on the workforce and its hydra-headed consequences are far-reaching and go beyond what is visible in the immediate. To some academics who appear distant from the ASUU cause, the union is treated like an opposition party to the government that must be crushed. If not, why would other unions at other types of tertiary institutions get more funding and better pay? From some indications, most professors, who are breadwinners, did not receive their December salaries till after Christmas, having to depend on the cooperative societies that are also under tremendous financial pressure for soft loans. How can this be explained? In the same country, some establishments paid thirteenth-month salaries and sundry bonuses for the festive season. The signal is that Nigeria’s university education is a poorly paid industry. Result? Young professors and budding academics with the same skills continue to migrate.
Several professors retired in the last year. The implication for those who fell within this category is that within the last eight months of their careers, they were without funds to prepare for their exit from the system. Professors and all those officially on approved leaves were also placed in the same category as striking lecturers, and their salaries were not paid.
No doubt, motivation is an essential factor in the success of any profession, and professors are no exception. It is the driving force that encourages individuals to perform at their best and achieve their goals. In Nigeria, however, professors face numerous challenges that hinder their motivation and, subsequently, their performance – a major one being the lack of sufficient financial compensation. In addition to inadequate pay, professors in Nigeria face a lack of other forms of motivation, such as conducive working environments, health facilities, housing loans, vehicle loans, insurance, and study leave with pay. On matters relating to health and health services, some professors died during the strike; many more are still dying of starvation and the inability to afford or purchase the right prescription or medication. There is a flurry of medical personnel migration and the burden of paying subsistence bills, among other factors.
The death toll was so unbearable during the ASUU strike. As reported in the news, “over 21 professors and senior lecturers” lost their lives during the ASUU strike at the University of Calabar. Although the Chairman of ASUU, UNICAL Chapter, gave the correct figure to be 15, it is worrisome that this is just the figure from a university! One can imagine what the figures will be if reports are also taken from other universities. In another worrisome development at the University of Benin, a member of staff also committed suicide because of financial difficulty.
A conducive working environment, for instance, is essential for any worker to perform their job to the best of their abilities. However, this is often not the case for professors in Nigeria, who may be working in outdated or poorly-equipped facilities. Multi-national organizations, observing the disdain with which the negotiations were conducted and the public response that has resulted, are somewhat hesitant to release resources normally given in support of research and infrastructure.
As a result, professors may struggle to stay motivated and perform at their highest levels. These incentives, commonly offered to professionals in other parts of the world, serve as a way to recognize and reward the efforts of professors and encourage them to continue striving for excellence. Without these motivations, it is difficult for professors in Nigeria to feel fulfilled in their roles and motivated to achieve their best work. This disparity is unfair and demoralizing for professors who have dedicated years of hard work and study to attain their prestigious position.
Also, professors in Nigeria often face limited opportunities for professional development, which can negatively impact their motivation, recognition for their contributions, and the overall quality of education in the country. Without access to the same resources and training opportunities as their counterparts in other countries, professors may struggle to keep up with the latest trends and best practices in their field. This lack of support and investment in their professional growth can lead to a lack of motivation and commitment to their profession. Professors need to have access to ongoing training and development to stay current and relevant in their field and contribute to their students’ growth and development. The lack of professional development opportunities for professors can also negatively affect the education system, leading to a lack of innovation and progress.
In all of these, a significant challenge is a lack of recognition and appreciation for their hard work and contributions to the academic field, despite the obvious harsh conditions. In other countries, professors are often recognized and celebrated for their achievements and contributions to their field. They may receive awards, grants, or other forms of recognition for their research, teaching, and other contributions to the academic community. This recognition not only serves as a way to acknowledge and appreciate their hard work but also provides a sense of validation and accomplishment that can boost their morale and motivation. In contrast, professors in Nigeria often struggle to receive the same level of recognition and appreciation for their work. This lack of recognition can be particularly frustrating for professors who have dedicated their careers to teaching and research and have made significant contributions to their field. It can lead to feelings of frustration, disappointment, and even resentment, which can ultimately negatively impact their overall job satisfaction and performance, or, as has been the case for several years, lead to brain drain. In addition to the lack of recognition, professors in Nigeria also face issues such as insecurity, inadequate or unavailable research programs and funds, inadequate infrastructure, and large class sizes that they may not have the resources to manage effectively. These challenges have led to a brain drain of professors and lecturers seeking better opportunities abroad, and some leave the teaching profession entirely to pursue other ventures. The impact of these issues is not limited to the professors themselves, as students may also suffer from the aggression and frustration of their professors.
Strike actions are another issue militating against professors’ smooth performance and activities in the Nigerian academic setup. So incessant have strike actions become a normal schedule and an integral part of the academic calendar. To some extent, an academic year hardly passes without a strike across public universities in the country. This frequent occurrence of strike actions has crippled the higher education system. The most recent strike happened between February 14 and October 14, 2022. Before that was the 2020 strike, which was synchronized with the COVID-19 pandemic and lasted almost nine months. This pathetic situation affects not only the students, as the public often paints it but also the lecturers significantly.
During the last strike action, the government insisted on implementing the no-work-no-pay policy, which would leave the lecturers, including the professors, with no salary for relatively eight months. This situation becomes even sadder when one recalls that a significant part of why the industrial strike was embarked upon in the first place was because of incommensurate compensation. Even upon resumption in October 2022, after the eight-month strike, what they got as their monthly pay was half their normal salary for that month. Undoubtedly, strike actions triggered by the government’s disregard weaken academics’ financial strength and capacity. Since many of these strike actions often end in a deadlock, dissatisfaction and dubious means of acquiring financial gains have characterized the Nigerian university system.
To address these issues, it is necessary to provide professors with better remuneration, funding for research and development, improved working conditions, and opportunities for professional growth. In addition, it is important to recognize and value professors’ hard work and dedication and to provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed. By addressing these challenges, it will be possible to create a better working environment for professors and improve the overall quality of education in Nigeria. Ultimately, the professors are the driving force of the Nigerian tertiary academic system.
Corrupt politicians should be ashamed of themselves for bringing us to this terrible situation. Those privileged to escape to other lands should protect the system’s integrity. I am reminded of a Yoruba proverb: “When tomorrow boasts that it is superior to today, it forgets that within 24 hours, it will be downgraded to yesterday!” Those who abuse the privilege of youth by abusing their former teachers and calling those older than their mothers idiots and thieves will later realize they will ultimately end up as carcasses dumped into the graveyard of history. Downfall is the outcome of hubris. The ground does not disappear because you have succeeded in climbing a mountain.
Although the challenges confronting the smooth operation and existence of professors in Nigeria are beyond what has been covered in this piece, it is crucial to state that breaking the spirit of professors, who are the torchbearers of academia, is eroding the essence of the teaching profession in Nigeria. Should the government begin by implementing the suggested solutions, there will be some marked changes. These recommendations will afford a better life for professors and help revamp the entire academic system.
Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Abiodun Seeks US Partnership In Developing Critical Sectors
The Ogun State government has solicited for partnership with the United States of America in developing the critical sectors of the State’s economy.
The State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun who stated this when he received the American Consul General to Nigeria, Mr. Will Stevens, who led a 5-man delegation on a courtesy call in his office at Oke-Mosan Abeokuta on Wednesday, noted that the State considers the United States as a progressive partner in the areas of economy, good governance, security, climate change and human capital development around the world.
Governor Abiodun posited that the State apart from the sophistication of its people and their cognitive political culture, is unanimously and popularly adjudged as the New Jersey of Nigeria and the leading industrial hub in the West Africa Sub-region, hence the need to tap from the American experience to further its developmental stride.
The governor said his administration at inception in 2019, assembled a team made up of highly resourceful technocrats and cerebral policy architects and conceptualized a transformational philosophy coined ISEYA, which is an acronym for Infrastructural Development, Social Welfare and Well-being, Education and Human Capital Development, Youth Empowerment and lastly, Agriculture and Food Security.
He said: “Through this concept, we have strategically transformed the state with modern infrastructure, deliberate policy steps to attract businesses and moving the economy from being federal allocation-focused to becoming the state with the third largest Internally Generated Revenue in the country.
“The State’s strategic location as the primary gateway to Lagos State – the largest market with the busiest ports in Nigeria has contributed to its status as the Industrial Hub of Nigeria.
“Our State is home to one of the largest industrial zones in Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the 8,000 hectares OPIC-owned Agbara Industrial Estate, which accommodates the Federal Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ), with forty-four (44) operational companies, factory tenants from across the world, with over 6,000 Nigerian employees and an estimated 100,000 metric tons of freight moving in and out daily.”
Prince Abiodun noted that in its quest to make Ogun State the first destination for investors in Nigeria, his administration is currently constructing an Agro Cargo International Airport at Iperu-Ilishan road in Ikenne Local Government Area of the State, adding that the project is strategically designed to create the needed infrastructure to boost the exportation of agricultural and non-agricultural goods.
“By its structure and business plan, the Cargo Airport remains a game-changer in our import and export promotion efforts, as it was specifically constructed to be an aerotropolis (Airport City) equipped with components such as a special agro-processing zone to process raw agricultural materials for exports, an international testing centre to certify that agro-produce complies with international standards before it is exported, and facility for passenger operations as well as facilities to receive parcels coming into Nigeria that are to be redistributed to other parts of the country.
“In addition to that, it is an important component of Ogun State’s transportation master plan expected not only to connect rail, road and water transportation but also to decongest the Lagos Airport,” the governor added.
Governor Abiodun appreciated the American government for her firm stance on democratic governance, specifically on the sanctity of the electoral process as well as supporting different reforms in the electoral process and taking an uncompromising position on electoral offenders.
In an interview after a closed-door meeting with the governor, the Consul General said their discussions centred on security and health.
He noted that health remains the number one investment in Nigeria as the US government is in the health sector to help Nigeria to reach the 95 95 95 goals of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country.
“It is my job to promote US trade and investment here in certain parts of Nigeria. I had a great conversation with the governor about the incredible investment the US companies are already making in the state as well as opportunities for more increased US trade and investment.
“We also talked about the tax sector, I think there are incredible opportunities right now to find jobs and opportunities for Nigerian youths to participate in the tax sector.
“We’ve seen the explosion of growth and investment in that sector throughout Nigeria, particularly in the South West,” the Consul General added.
Toyin Falola And The October Harvest
By Ezekiel Oladele Adeoti
In the annals of academic and societal change, few luminaries shine as brightly as Professor Toyin Falola. As autumn leaves drifted in October, the literary world was astir from the changing seasons and the relentless enthusiasm of a septuagenarian scholar making waves across lecture halls and public platforms. In many cultures and traditions, October is a month of harvest – a time to reap the fruits of labour sown in prior months. Fittingly, for Professor Falola, this October truly lived up to that essence, bearing witness to an intellectual harvest that few could parallel.
Prof. Toyin Falola at the second Distinguished Lecture Series of the Department of History & International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria on August 10, 2022. Photo by “Gbile Oshadipe (2022) ©
In many ways, the achievements of this month were a microcosm of Falola’s broader career: a testament to the confluence of hard work, passion, and a deep-seated commitment to societal advancement.
Within 31 days, Falola graced the podium for 3 public lectures, imparted wisdom in 2 university lectures, and was the beacon of 3 convocation lectures. Each of these engagements wasn’t just about sharing knowledge; they were conduits for sparking change, challenging established norms, and inspiring the next generation. However, to truly grasp the magnitude of Falola’s October endeavours, one must delve deeper into the essence of the man himself. At an age when many of his peers are retreating into the tranquillity of retirement, Falola’s spirit remains undiminished, if not encouraged. It’s not just the number of lectures or the honorary doctorates he received – which, in and of itself, is a remarkable feat – but the zeal with which he approaches each endeavour. His lectures, for instance, are not mere recitations of historical facts or academic theories. They are vibrant tapestries woven with threads of history, contemporary societal issues, and a vision for a brighter future. They challenge, they provoke, and most importantly, they inspire. But what drives a man of over 70 years to such relentless pursuit? To find the answer, one need not look further than his past works and the themes that permeate them. For Falola, academia isn’t a secluded ivory tower but a platform to engage with the real world. His research, extensive and varied as it is, always circles back to the core of societal problems. From the intricacies of Yoruba history to the broader strokes of African colonial and post-colonial narratives, Falola’s work sheds light on the issues that matter. These are issues that, in many ways, continue to shape societies today.
In this context, October wasn’t just another month in the calendar but a manifestation of Falola’s lifelong commitment to societal change. A promise that has seen him transcend the traditional confines of academia to engage with the broader public. His public lectures resonate with many audiences, often interspersed with anecdotes, real-life examples, and a touch of humour. From the eager university student to the curious layman, Falola’s words strike a chord, reminding everyone of the transformative power of knowledge and its role in sculpting a better future. In delving deeper into the man behind the October Harvest, one quickly realizes that Professor Falola’s achievements are not a product of overnight success but the culmination of decades of unwavering dedication. It’s a journey that’s seen him navigate the tumultuous waters of academia, societal challenges, and personal hurdles, emerging each time with a renewed sense of purpose. More than anything, this tenacity has been the cornerstone of his October endeavours and his broader career. One might wonder, what is the essence of these lectures and engagements? Why do they matter? The answer lies in the content and context of each meeting. Take, for instance, one of his public lectures from October. While the topic might have revolved around historical narratives, Falola deftly intertwined it with contemporary issues, drawing parallels and highlighting lessons. His ability to bridge the past with the present, to draw lessons from history and apply them to current challenges, is what sets him apart. In doing so, he educates and empowers his audience to view issues through a multifaceted lens, promoting critical thinking and proactive engagement.
Moreover, the venues of these lectures—from universities to public platforms—underscore his commitment to inclusive education. Universities, the traditional bastions of knowledge, are just one part of the equation for Falola. By stepping out and engaging with the broader public, he’s democratizing knowledge, making it accessible to all, irrespective of their academic or socio-economic backgrounds. It’s a move that challenges the status quo, emphasizing that learning shouldn’t be confined to ivory towers but should permeate every stratum of society. However, it’s not just the lectures that stood out in October. The two honorary doctorates he received are symbolic of his contributions to academia and society at large. Such accolades, while celebratory, are also reflective. They compel us to examine the body of work that merits such recognition. For Falola, it’s a vast tapestry of research, publications, mentorship, and public engagement. Each strand, be it a book, an article, or a lecture, is imbued with a purpose: to enlighten, challenge, and change. Yet, amidst all the accolades and achievements, what’s truly remarkable is Falola’s humility. Interact with him, and you’re not met with the airs of a celebrated academician but the warmth of a mentor, the curiosity of a lifelong learner, and the passion of a societal changemaker. This unique blend of excellence and humility makes his October Harvest not just an academic feat but a life lesson for many. It serves as a poignant reminder that success isn’t just about personal milestones but about the impact one leaves on society and the legacy one creates for future generations.
Reflecting on the October Harvest and the man at its epicentre, we must contextualize Professor Falola’s achievements within a broader societal framework. At a time when the world grapples with myriad challenges – from socio-political upheavals to environmental crises – the role of intellectuals and academicians becomes ever more crucial. And Falola, with his October engagements and lifelong commitment, epitomizes the potential of scholarly intervention in driving societal change. But why is this important? In an era dominated by bite-sized information and fleeting trends, the depth and breadth of academic research provide a counterbalance. Falola’s lectures, rich in historical context and analytical depth, offer a respite from the cacophony of superficial narratives. They remind us of the importance of understanding the past to navigate the present and shape the future. Every lecture and engagement is a clarion call for introspection, urging society to delve deeper, question more, and strive for a holistic understanding. This is not to say that academia is the sole bastion of truth or the only path to societal change. But scholars like Falola, who bridge the gap between the academic and public spheres, play a pivotal role in grounding discussions in research, evidence, and historical context. They serve as beacons, illuminating the path forward with the torch of knowledge.
Furthermore, Falola’s October engagements underscore the timeless essence of commitment and passion. His journey is a testament to perseverance, dedication, and lifelong learning in a world that often prioritizes instant gratification. It’s a narrative that resonates beyond the confines of academia, inspiring professionals, creatives, and changemakers across various fields. The underlying message? Age is but a number; passion and commitment are timeless. As we draw the curtains on the October Harvest, carrying forward the lessons it offers is essential. It’s a month that celebrates Professor Falola’s achievements, the ethos of scholarly engagement, and its potential impact on society. It’s a call to action for scholars, students, and the general public to engage, question, learn, and drive change.
In conclusion, Professor Toyin Falola’s October Harvest is more than a chronicle of a month’s achievements. It’s a celebration of a lifetime of dedication, a tribute to the transformative power of knowledge, and a reminder of the potential each one of us holds. As the leaves of October give way to the chill of November, the echoes of Falola’s lectures, the wisdom of his words, and the passion of his commitment continue to inspire, urging us all to sow the seeds of change, knowledge, and progress. For in every seed lies the promise of a harvest, and in every effort, the potential for impact.
Prof. Adeoti wrote from the Department of History & International Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, Ojo-Lagos, Nigeria.
Keep Witchcraft Accusations Out Of Politics In Sychelles
By Leo Igwe
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the government of Sychelles to keep charges linked to witchcraft beliefs out of politics in the country because they make no legal and political sense. This call became necessary following a report that the country’s main opposition leader, Peter Herminie has been charged with witchcraft. Charged with witchcraft in this 21st century? He was accused along with seven other persons including a Tanzanian. According to the report, Herminie and other persons have been charged with “possessing items intended for use in witchcraft, conspiracy to perform witchcraft and procuring services related to witchcraft”. It was stated that the name of this key politician was allegedly mentioned in a whatsapp message between a local and the person from Tanzania, who was arrested at the main international airport on September 21, 2023. The report says that “Items related to witchcraft, including stones, black wooden artefacts, small bottles of brownish liquid, a collection of powders, and documents with strange language and “demonic and satanic” symbols” were found in the possession of this Tanzanian.
State prosecutors are of the notion that the documents might be some vandalised materials from the local churches. Mr. Herminie has denied the charges, and dismissed the allegation that items linked to witchcraft including bones, body parts, and objects associated with Christianity” were found in his office or in his possession.
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches is asking the government of Sychelles to drop these charges, because they are absurd and constitute a show of shame and embarrassment. The prosecution of Herminie and other co-accused is witch hunting in both literal and political sense. And witch hunting should has no place in 21st century politics in Sychelles.
Otherwise, how does the government define witchcraft or witchcraft items? How does the government distinguish witchcraft items, whatever that means, from traditional religious objects? How did the prosecutors know that the said items were intended for use in witchcraft? Are stones, black wooden artefacts, and small bottles of brownish liquid witchcraft materials? I mean how will state prosecutors establish that some symbols are demonic and satanic?
Has the government the facility or expertise to prove beyond reasonable doubt what is witchcraft and what is not witchcraft, what is demonic or satanic and what is not? How will the government prosecute this case without flagrantly violating the right of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief? At a time of growing cases of witch persecution in many parts of Africa, the government of Sychelles should discontinue this unfortunate and unwarranted instance of witch hunting.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
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