Buhari, Tinubu, dons mourn Oluwole


President Muhammadu Buhari has extended condolences to the Oluwole family on the death of Prof. Sophie Oluwole, renowned philosopher and Nigeria’s first female doctorate degree holder in philosophy.

Prof Oluwole died on Sunday in her home at Ibafo, Ogun State. She was 83.

In a statement yesterday by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President joined members of the family, the academia and other close associates in mourning the cerebral philosopher, who through her teachings and works celebrated the Yoruba culture, history and worldview.

She reminded the world that within pristine traditions are values that promote the ideals of democracy, fairness, equity and justice, the President said of the deceased.

Buhari said he has the belief that the deceased would be honoured and remembered for her commitment and skill in spreading the word about the good in promoting African tradition, culture, knowledge and languages.

The President urged all who mourn Prof Oluwole to honour her memory by carrying on from where she left off in her zeal to promote indigenous knowledge, skills and discipline that could help us redefine ourselves as a people and a nation.

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All Progressives Congress (APC) leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu described the late Prof. Oluwole as a distinguished academic and Yoruba nationalist.

He said the late philosopher; popularly called Mamalawo (female native doctor) would be deeply missed because of her commitment to the development of the Yoruba culture, tradition and philosophy.

The former Lagos State governor said: “Prof. Sophie Oluwole was a distinguished academic, pan-African philosopher and Yoruba nationalist. As Nigeria’s first female doctorate degree holder in philosophy, she truly earned her stripes. She believed in and practised what she taught and preached.

“She loved and celebrated Yoruba tradition and philosophy so much she was nicknamed Mamalawo.

“Nigeria, the Yoruba race and all those who admire pristine traditions will sorely miss Prof Sophie. Her teachings and works derived from the Yoruba school of philosophical thought. To her, the ancient African philosopher Orunmila was second to none.

“I commiserate with the Oluwole family, the academic community, students who passed through her. I pray they have the strength and resilience to continue where she stopped. To the soul of the late Prof, I pray for eternal rest.”

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In the academic, the late professor’s community, her demise was described as a significant loss to Africa.

The Dean of Arts, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof Muyiwa Falaiye, who was late Mrs. Oluwole’s student and later colleague, described her as a brilliant thinker whose work on African philosophy rivalled world-recognised philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates.

The professor of African Philosophy said: “She was my teacher and PhD supervisor. She was a mentor; we worked together for a long period first as a student, then as co-lecturers.

“She was a role model, a good woman, an Africanist. She is a big loss to the academia, not only in Nigeria but internationally. She is well-known for her noble work on Orunmila.

“It is significant work. Many people had thought that no African had the capacity to think but Oluwole showed a lot of wisdom can be got from African philosophers that can rival what European Philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle did.”

UNILAG’s Vice Chancellor Prof Toyin Ogundipe said the deceased added value in the university where she retired 18 years ago.

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The vice chancellor said: “It is sad that we had to lose her now; but we thank God for her life. She contributed effectively. She was former dean of students’ affairs. In the academic space she contributed very well. She is a well-respected woman in her department and faculty.”

Prof Ogundipe said the university’s programme to honour her would be dependent on her family’s plans.

The Igbara-Oke, Ondo State Prof Sophie Oluwole, was the first woman to earn a doctorate degree in Philosophy in Nigeria.

She studied History, Geography and Philosophy at UNILAG after which she was employed as an Assistant Lecturer in 1972. She earned her PhD in Philosophy at the University of Ibadan (UI), Ibadan.

She taught African Philosophy at UNILAG between 2002 and 2008 and focused on the Yoruba school of philosophical thought that discussed the cultural and religious beliefs of Yoruba land.

She was recognised for her activism for women in philosophy and education.

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