History and Society

Oloruntimehin, B. Olatunji (1976-02-24)


MR VICE-CHANCELLOR. I feel honoured and privileged that I have the opportunity to deliver my inaugural lecture before this distinguished audience. I understand that it is the first to be delivered by a historian in this University. However. I must confess to some diffidence in doing so. For one thing. I am a rather new comer to the University. and newer still as a member of the unit that has formal responsibility for history as a subject. Although I have been a happy member of the community of historians since I came here as a research professor. I became a member of the department of history only when I was redeployed in the recent restructuring and reform of the University as a system. It is against this background of limited experience that I entertain the feeling that. by addressing you now. I might be rushing like a fool where angels have feared to tread. Nonetheless. I feel encouraged by the fact that the world of scholarship is a universal one. and that the real purpose of an inaugural lecture is better served if delivered at the beginning. or as close as possible to the beginning. of one's tenure as a professor. In the tradition of our people. I wish to pay homage to those who have had the duty of cultivating the discipline of history in this University. Dr. Saburi Biobaku must be mentioned first in spite of the fact that he was associated with the department only for a fleeting moment. He did a great deal for history and related disciplines as founder and first director ofthe Institute of African Studies at a time when the African component of the curricula of the University was still scanty and needed tending by a protecting hand. Up till now, Dr. Biobaku has remained tireless in popularising the idea of history and in stimulating public awareness of the value of cultural studies in a technological age. As far as history within the University of Ife is concerned. Professor I. A. Akinjogbin easily comes to the forefront as the longest serving member, and as the single individual who has had the privilege and the challenge to have been the head of the department for almost a decade now. Professor Akinjogbin has devoted his entire career as a' university teacher to the department. Indeed, the image of the department bears clear imprints of his own as a scholar. It could hardly have been otherwise since the department itself is less than fourteen years old. The growth of the department in this relatively short period has been remarkable. and all who, in their varied ways, have contributed to it deserve commendation. I feel honoured to be a member, and, as a believer in collective effort, I pledge my loyalty to the task of developing the discipline in a virile and purposive way. I believe there is a lot still to be done to build an Ife School of history-especially in the area of research and postgraduate training, in the latter of which the department is still very much a toddler.