FEATURE ARTICLE

Seye AdetunmbiMonday, October 30, 2006
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EXIT OF ONE OF THE EARLY NIGERIAN ACADEMICS, PROF ADEGOKE OLUBUNMO (1920-1992)


ne undoing that should be addressed is the speed and manner Nigerians consciously or unknowingly neglects their home grown geniuses! This does a lot in killing the spirit of excellence and diligence in present-day generation! If we don't document lifetime stories of distinguished men and women who had made their marks and accord them the right place in history, our children and those that are yet to be born may think that it is a case of another fiction. This will also compliment efforts to sanitize the increasingly disturbing corrupted system. Thus, let's celebrate our past heroes perhaps it will help to curb the excesses of few wrong people in position of authority and power who seem to be having temporary victory in their unhonorable ways for now!


Orin-Ekiti could be described as a community that was made popular to some extent by the Farm Settlement project introduced in the 1950s by the old Western Regional Government. Also for producing the first Professor of Mathematics in Nigeria in person of Professor Adegoke Olubunmo unarguably gave it an immeasurable mileage. The humane Professor Adegoke Olubunmo was apparently the most renowned son of his community in his lifetime and yet was very humble. As a matter of fact he was in the league of eminent Ekiti academics that brought prominence to their fatherland and contributed to the respect accorded the Ekitis for their scholarship and brilliance in the history of Nigeria. He loved his root, home town and associated with them as evident in being among the 1st set of Ekiti elites abroad who built befitting country houses in their respective home towns as far back as 1960s.

He was born circa 1920 into a royal family in Orin-Ekiti. He attended Methodist Primary School, Ifaki-Ekiti and concluded his Standard Six at Christ's School, Ado-Ekiti in 1936/37 which included his name among the 1 st set of the foremost school in Ekiti. His quest for higher education did not stop as a Methodist trained and certificated teacher, he proceeded to Freetown and Timbuktu for further studies. How he made the journey to Sierra Leone still remains an unresolved mystery to most of his associates. A product of Fourah Bay College where he met Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin who was instrumental to his coming to Imade College Owo in 1949 where he worked as a Mathematics and English teacher. Among his students at Imade College was a retired Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Adeloye.

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In 1951 Professor Olubunmo traveled to Britain and within five years he returned to Nigeria as a PhD holder in Mathematics. Before the turn of a decade he became the first Professor of Mathematics in Nigeria. A testimony of his scholarship and successful academic exploits. His students attested to the fact that punctuality was his hallmark, coupled with brilliance embedded with humility and forthrightness. He was indeed an embodiment of decency, who imparted convention of respectable behavior to the people around him and this he did by example and certainly not by precept. To this writer it was a privilege growing-up to know the erudite Professor Olubunmo as a devoted person to his true friends as evident in his condolence message to the family subsequent to the transition of Chief D.O. Adetunmbi, I quote: "Accept my sympathy on the transition of a man I know was very close to you as a father and friend. You can all take consolation in the certain knowledge that your father lived a truly wonderful life in all respects. For my part, I count myself most fortunate to be numbered among his friends, to have shared his experiences, his joys and sorrows and his deep friendship, sincerity and loyalty for over fifty years. May his great soul rest in peace"

Professor Olubunmo was someone with strong passion for traditional ceremonies and cultural events. He was strict yet kind and approachable. Every opportunity he had he was always bringing his nucleus family to Ekiti to enable them interact with his siblings, relations and family friends. He was inclined to planning his visits to Ekiti such that it afforded him the opportunity to see some annual traditional festivals in his community and environs. There were few instances when his family came to join his very close ally the Adetunmbis to see Ikosun and Okorobo festivals at Ifaki as far back as 1960s. He had a very liberal disposition to life which explained his inter tribal marriage to his beloved wife of Calabar origin. Like every other mortal he had his own share of low periods when he lost his devoted wife and mother of his three brilliant children in the late 1970s.

A pleasant family man extraordinary who was blessed with and survived by Yewande a First Class product of University of Ibadan under the age of 20 years, Ronke, Gboyega a software Engineer based in USA and Mrs Olubunmo who took care of him until his transition. He retired from the University of Ibadan to take up appointment with his budding home state institution, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti where he served meritoriously until his transition in October 1992 and his body was laid to rest on November 14 1992.