Saturday, September 8, 2018 10:51 am
The evening of 6th September, 2018 saw distinguished academics and business leaders, alumni of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, prospective students of both schools and invited guests converging at The Residence of The Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria for an evening of talks and networking. The special guest speaker was Professor Wale Adebanwi, a Nigerian academic who is the first black African to occupy the distinguished position of Rhodes Professor of Race Relations in Oxford. He is also the current director of The University of Oxford African Studies Centre. The aim of the event – which was hosted at the residence of The Deputy British High Commissioner to The UK, H.E. Ms Laure Beaufils — was to introduce AfOx to Oxford Alumni and partners in Nigeria, as well as to seek support for The Initiative’s activities and for Nigerian scholars in Oxford.
Professor Kevin Marsh, director of AfOx opened the event with a call to alumni and business leaders to work with AfOx to support The Initiative’s activities, including funding scholarships in Oxford for brilliant Nigerian students, supporting Nigerian researchers with grants and providing career opportunities, mentoring and guidance for African students. Of the close to 300 African post graduate students who gained admission to Oxford on account of their excellent academic and professional records, only half of them were able to take up their places, and this was mainly due to lack of funding. An Oxford education is an excellent boost to a career in global leadership, and Nigerian students who qualify should be able to take up their places with the right support.
In his address, Professor Adebanwi spoke of histories of enlightenment in Lagos. He describedhow intellectuals in early Lagos engaged in philosophical and practical discourses to contribute to the modernisation of their societies.He recounted several stories about how some intellectuals achieved this – including Herbert Macaulay who in particular generated newspaper stories from his unique experiences and deployed them in articulating the place of tradition in modernity. He also prevailed upon Nigerian intellectuals of today to “remember that their predecessors never wavered in their embrace of the challenges of change”.
Dr Timi Austen-Peters, current president of The Oxford and Cambridge Alumni Network of Nigeria announced the alumni society’s plans to raise funds to support Nigerian students to study at Oxford and Cambridge. Some business people as well as members of the alumni society such as Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Mr Ladi Delano, and Mr Adebayo Ogunlesi are already funding academic chairs and scholarships at Oxford, but the society plans to expand these laudable efforts even further. Also in attendance at the event were Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Nigeria’s former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Dapo Fafowora, retired diplomat, Mrs. Ayo Obe, lawyer and former President of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Mr Akinfela Akoni, former president of the Oxford and Cambridge Alumni Network,Mr Olu Daramola, (SAN), Mr Yinka Odumakin, the publicity secretary of Afenifere, Mr Frank Aigbogun, publisher of Business Day, and Mr Kunle Ajibade, the Executive Editor of TheNEWS magazine.
About The Africa Oxford Initiative
The Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx) facilitates equitable and sustainable partnerships between The University of Oxford and African institutions and ensures that engagement in Africa remains a strategic priority for the University.
AfOx is a vibrant platform comprising of over 500 academics, both in The University of Oxford and in partner African institutions, working on or interested in advancing research and teaching excellence in the Africa.
The Initiative runs several events, projects and schemes geared towards the establishment of new research and academic collaborations, supporting existing ones, and being the hub for all things Africa in Oxford.