Sophie Oluwole, I Mourn A Transition

Sophie Oluwole, I Mourn A Transition

Tuesday, December 25, 2018 5:27 pm


Professor Sophie Oluwole


By Akinyemi Onigbinde

Who, and what can console us, students of Sophie Oluwole? We mourn the passage of a mother-hen. I encounted her at the Graduate School, University of Lagos, where I drank deep from the fountain of her ‘combative’ intellectual engagement on the viability of African Philosophy.

As a student of Analytic school, from the Ife school of social engineering, with sufficient disdain for ‘trado-cultural exigencies’ in scholarship, my illiteracy was exposed by her lucidly-delivered lectures, laced with ‘Ojuwoye market’ demonstrative logic.Dr Sophie Oluwole was a teacher in her own class, who made knowledge acquisition so elementary and ordinary that you wondered what is the big deal about ‘Ivory Tower’

Since departing from formal attention, as her ‘Marxist student’, in the 80s, our paths continued to criss cross at sundry junctures, where Philosophy was the only menu on the table. Oh, I withdraw that. We met to continue my tutorial class from my highly revered teacher, with new insights, the last lesson being at a departure lounge of Murtala Mohamed International Airport.She was headed for Holland, I was headed for Birmingham.She was happy that I was using philosophical paradigm to interrogate social issues, on ‘cultural democracy’, the tenet of a research agenda at the Centre for West African Studies, University of Birmingham.

She was to give me a copy of her newly published book, only to discover she had only a copy in her hand bag.So my Professor, a Professor of professors departed from me with the announcement to proceed to the boarding gate . It never occurred to me she was ‘boarding’, ‘departing’ and never to be seen again. That was in May, 2017. So, how do I get a copy of her ‘latest’ book that she lectured me about. Yes, she ‘lectured’ me, because any encounter with her had always been an unfair pairing.

Akinyemi Onigbinde

Now, I must return to the archival section of my library, in search of Professor Oluwole, and reread, anew, those lessons that I had consigned to some grade-grabbing imperatives.

My dear Professor, Nigeria never turned out to be an intellectual-friendly environment of your dream, and no one amongst your students can hope that philosophers will be kings, or kings will learn to be philosophers.But your unrealized mission will continue to be the guiding light for generations yet to berth. Sleep well Sophie, your rest well deserved. Proud to have passed through you.

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