Tuesday, January 30, 2018 9:54 pm
By Gbenro Adesina/Ibadan
Monday 29 January 2018, all roads led to the Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, UI, for the commencement of “The Toyin Falola @ 65 Conference”, to celebrate the 65th birthday of an erudite scholar and a writer, Professor Toyin Falola. The three-day programme with the theme, “African Knowledges and Alternative Futures”, is expected to have about 350 papers presentations by scholars from all over the world.
The opening ceremony had in attendance eminent personalities and scholars from different universities across the world including: the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Olalekan Alli who led some members of the state executive council including Commissioner for Information, Tourism and Culture, Toye Arulogun; Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of the State of Osun; former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Tam David-West; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111; Orangun of Oke-Ila, Oba Adedokun Omoniyi Abolarin leading traditional rulers and chiefs; and UI Vice Chancellor, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration, Professor Ambrose Aiyelari.
Many Vice chancellors were also there: Professor Igbekele Ajibefun of Adekunle Ajasin University, AAU; Professor Kabiru Aderemi Adeyemo, Lead City University, LCU; Professor Ayandiji Daniel Aina of Caleb University; former Vice Chancellor of Ondo State University, Professor Femi Mimiko; former and current Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes, CCII Presidents, Chief Bayo Oyero and Chief Yemi Soladoye; Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Adigun Agbaje, Professor Ademola Dasylva and Professor Kehinde Ayobami.
Delivering the first keynote address titled, “African Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Legacy of Africa”, Professor Gloria Emeagwali of the Central Connecticut State University, USA, said that the legacy of Africa is multidisciplinary, multiregional and transcontinental.
She said, “The legacy spans from antiquity to the present and is embodied in the wide spectrum of African Knowledge. The legacy shows up in the first stone tool in the world, the earliest evidence of chemistry, the earliest evidence of hieroglyphics, early steel production, indigenous theologies about the spiritual and immaterial, musical and artistic expressions, and a wide range of complex ideas and philosophies about the world we live in. That legacy is a bequest from ancestral wisdom, inspiration, experience and scientific experimentation but it is a legacy that must be preserved, improved on, where relevant, and sustained in the context of institutional building and archival creation and preservation”.
She concluded, “Professor Toyin Falola is a role model in that regard, and we celebrate his work, his mission and his accomplishments through this conference. We hope that his model would be replicated transcontinentally, and that African Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the legacy of Africa will be recognised, sustained and replicated in various formats, for posterity in the context of decolonisation and the decentering of Eurocentric epistemology”.
The second keynote speaker, Professor Christopher Bankole Ogbogbo, the Head of History Department, UI, spoke on “Academics and the Crisis of Knowledge Production and Dissemination in Africa”. He argued that knowledge production and dissemination in Africa in the 21st century are facing a fundamental crisis that has become the bane of development in the continent.
According to him, “Interrogating Africa’s epistemological traditions have become critical in seeking explanation to the major challenges confronting the African realities. How knowledge is produced, disseminated and consumed in Africa and for what purposes and reasons are central to the interrogation and explication of the state of hopelessness and loss of faith that pervade the African continent- a blossoming crisis that is best epitomised by the desperateness with which her youths journey through the Sahara desert to engage in a more pernicious round of slavery in the search for greener pastures”.
He noted, “These apparent manifestations are direct consequences of the failure of the academic in Africa, a group that has, as a consequence of the colonial experience, become the think-tank in the post-colonial state in Africa. Domiciled mainly in the universities, these egg heads have failed to provide the necessary ideas that will unshackle their peoples and societies from the persistent development crisis in the continent”.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Professor Jide Owoeye, who is the LCU Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, lauded the celebrant for his contributions to scholarship and his life of mentorship. He noted that the celebrant has impacted so many lives and has brought up many emerging scholars.
In his remark, Professor Olayinka, who lent his voice to the many voices of felicitations and best wishes to the celebrant, noted that Falola has proven that scholarship truly empowers and humanize our relationship with others.
He lauded not just his scholarship but his mentoring capacity and passion for up coming scholars on the continent.
Other activities at the event included: book presentation titled, “”The Toyin Falola Reader”, by Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and tributes in honour of the celebrant.
The three day event continues with paper presentations and a trip to Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye for the conferment of an honourary doctorate on the celebrant.
Falola was born on January 1, 1953 in Ibadan.He is an historian and professor of African Studies and currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
Falola earned his B.A. and Ph.D in History at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria and of the Nigerian Academy of Letters. Falola is author and editor of more than one hundred books, and he is the general editor of the Cambria African Studies Series, Cambria Press.
He has received eight honorary doctorates, lifetime career awards and honors in various parts of the world, including The Lincoln Award, Nigerian Diaspora Academic Prize, Cheikh Anta Diop Award, Amistad Award, SIRAS Award for Outstanding Contribution to African Studies, Africana Studies Distinguished Global Scholar Lifetime Achievement Award, Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria, and The Distinguished Africanist Award. At the University of Texas at Austin, he received the Jean Holloway Award for Teaching Excellence, The Texas Exes Teaching Award, The Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teaching Award, Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, and the Career Research Excellence Award.
He has also received three Yoruba chieftaincy titles most notably: The Bobapitan of Ibadanland.