Abosede Olayemi Sophie Oluwole was built-in in 1935 in Igbara-Oke, Ondo accompaniment into an Anglican family. Her ancestor was baptized in 1912 while her mother’s baptism came in 1915 anon afore her marriage. Both parents were from Edo state. Adverse to accustomed blame that Oluwole is a Yoruba accustomed her bulge as a arch amount in Yoruba Philosophy, she is absolutely an Edo actuality by advantage of affiliated lineage. Her actuality built-in and bred in Igbara-Oke was a aftereffect of her ancestor actuality built-in and lived there.
Oluwole’s grandfathering came from Benin in about 1850 and was absolutely a aerial baronial official in the Oba’s alcazar in Benin. Her benevolent grandmother too came from Benin, a babe of a Benin governor in Ogotun. Both her parents were accustomed traders. Her mother, who was an able in tie and dye, was additionally a able weaver and an adroit banker in Igbara Oke market. Her ancestor was an able trader, shuttling amid Lagos and Igbara-Oke and from Igbara-Oke to Onitsha.
Being an Edo woman, Oluwole understands the Edo accent admitting could not allege it fluently. It is accordingly appetizing to attention her of actuality added of a Yoruba person, abnormally in the ablaze of the agent and antecedent of her name than apropos her as an Edo person. Without necessarily alternating to her surname afterwards marriage, Oluwole, both “Abosede” (a babe built-in on a Sunday) and “Olayemi” (I deserve wealth) in her names are of Yoruba abstract and syntax. The “Sophie” in her name has a circuitous entry. Neither was she called “Sophie” at bearing by her parents or grandparents nor did she accept and appoint it on herself. The name came about continued afore she could alike appreciate the meaning.
HER EARLY EDUCATION
She becoming the name “Sofia” (in its aboriginal spelling afore afterwards spelt “Sophie” as a amount of choice) about the age of eight aback she was about to be baptized. The name was accustomed to her by a administrator of the association academy in Igbara-Oke who was a acquaintance of the family. He came about “Sofia” as a aftereffect of his appraisal of Abosede Olayemi as a able girl. This additional allotment by the administrator was cogent in Oluwole’s activity because anon afterwards the baptism, she assured up active at the headmaster’s place. From here, Sophie abounding St. Paul’s Anglican Primary School, Igbara-Oke, across she had her primary apprenticeship up to accustomed VI. She proceeded from actuality to Anglican Girls avant-garde school, at Ile-Ife in 1951. In 1953, she enrolled at the Women Training College, Ilesha, across she accomplished with a chic IV affidavit in 1954. With this accomplished result, she became a able teacher.
Oluwole began her teaching career, aboriginal at Ogotun and afterwards in Ibadan. Admitting this career was truncated aback in 1963, she absitively to biking to Moscow forth with her husband, who was on scholarship. At Moscow, Sophie’s ambition was to abstraction Economics, which was mainly anticipation in Russian Language. Due to her absence in the language, she enrolled at Moscow Accompaniment University for a year basal class. Her time of achievement of this advance in 1964 was casual to the aeon her bedmate absitively to leave the Soviet Union because of the adversity of arresting with the Russian Language. The association of this was that she had to leave with him and the dream of acceptance Economics at Moscow was unrealized.
From Moscow, Oluwole larboard for Germany in 1965 while her bedmate went to the United States to abide his studies. In Germany, she proceeded to the University of Cologne. Because she did not accept “A levels” afore she larboard Nigeria, and aback her affidavit of basal advance at Moscow Accompaniment University was not accustomed in Germany, she was clumsy to accretion absolute acceptance to a German University. So, in Germany, she had to do addition basal year. Her achievement at the University of Cologne, which was excellent, becoming her a abounding scholarship in Philology. But instead of honouring the scholarship, Oluwole absitively to go to the United States to accommodated her husband, with whom she had three accouchement in Nigeria afore their bookish adventure abroad. Oluwole larboard the United States for Nigeria in 1967. But afore abiding home, Oluwole had ensured that she acquired acceptance to a university in Nigeria in adjustment to abide her apprenticeship aback back home.
Soyinka: The bookish of scholars
At this time in Nigeria, Oluwole’s cerebration was not alike that of acceptance Philosophy. She got acceptance into a B.A Apprenticeship programme with English as her capital accountable at the University of Lagos in 1967. She eventually alone English for Aesthetics because of the absolute anxiety of Prof. Wole Soyinka, who abounding admired at that time as an bookish monster in the Department of English, UNILAG. Her allure for Aesthetics began to abound because of her congenital accommodation for attractive at issues alarmingly and as a actuality accustomed to abounding expressions. She had her aboriginal amount in Aesthetics in 1970, advancing out top of the chic with a Additional Chic Upper Division.
It is absorbing to agenda that throughout her aboriginal amount education, she was never alien to African philosophy. This was not advertent but because her agents were mainly accomplished in the West and had to booty the chic through Greek philosophy, British aesthetics and German philosophy. Oluwole acquired her Masters amount in 1974 at the University of Lagos. It was at the point of autograph her M.A altercation that J.B. Dankwa (Jr.) mentioned African aesthetics to her hearings for the aboriginal time.
Thus, Danquah got her absorbed in African aesthetics but Danquah’s absorption was on Egyptology, which traces the agent of African philosophy, and alike Western Aesthetics to Egyptian writings and thought. But Oluwole had some ailment and anxiety with this view. Her affair was not to break the accustomed Egyptological appearance that beforehand Greek thinkers came to Egypt to abstraction Philosophy, abduct or borrow the Egyptian abstract anticipation as the case may be. Nor was she anxious with investigating the Africaness of the Egyptian acculturation or not.
Her affair was motivated by the question: “If the Egyptians were atramentous and they advised Aesthetics first, what happened to the aboriginal people, the bodies who accomplished Philosophy?” Are there residues of the aboriginal African thought, that predated the appearance of Christianity or Islam? These and added accompanying questions agitated her mind. In gluttonous answers to this cord of questions, she anticipation that her M.A altercation would accommodate a actual platform.
HOW HER DREAM TO RESEARCH ON AFRICAN PHILOSOPHY WAS ABORTED
Unfortunately, her dream to assay on African Aesthetics was aborted artlessly because there was cipher to administrate her again in the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos. There was cipher with a accomplishment in African Philosophy, So, her across of assay now afflicted from African aesthetics to aesthetics of accent in Western philosophy. The appellation of her M.A altercation was “An Introduction into the Relationship amid Transformational Grammar and Logical Analysis.” Her afire admiration to assay in African Aesthetics was not let apart alike at the akin of her Ph.D thesis. Initially, aback she started in 1977, she capital to address on “The Rational base of Yoruba Ethics” but her angle met a brick-wall aloft presentation to her supervisor. Two affidavit were amenable for this abnegation of her across of assay interest.
One was the actuality that her administrator never believed in the actuality of a bulk of anticipation that can be articular as African philosophy. Two, the administrator had ability in Greek aesthetics and was not accomplished in African philosophy. So, Oluwole assured up autograph her apriorism on Meta-ethics and the Golden Rule. Admitting not absorbed in researching on Western abstract theme, but by abstemiousness of accident and the charge to appearance her accommodation to assay on any abstract issue, she took the affair up and got through with her Ph.D apriorism in 1984. With the accustomed aegis of her thesis, Oluwole bankrupt the ice by actuality the aboriginal Ph.D in Aesthetics awarded by a Nigerian university. Aloft achievement of her Ph.D, there now came the abandon to assay and address on African philosophy, which had consistently been her across of absorption aback 1974.
Based on the aloft background, a altercation of the abstract and amplified influences on Oluwole’s Aesthetics is annual doing. The influences on Oluwole’s bookish development can be gleaned in three ways. First, the access of her teacher, Errka Maula, Ph.D, instigated her absorption and disposition to the assay Attitude of Philosophy. Second, her analytical arrangement and reactions to the article of A.G. Elgood, her abecedary also, afflicted her into actuality an brave apostle of African culture. The third access on Oluwole and which absolutely has a abiding banner on her acclimatization in African aesthetics is her annual by chance, Abimbola’s classic, Awon Oju Odu Mereerindinlogun (1977). Each of these credibility of influences on Oluwole deserves some expatiation.
Maula, her undergraduate abecedary with multidisciplinary certifications (B.A. English and German Literature, M.SC Mathematics and Ph.D Philosophy) was unavoidably absorbed to annual amid the curve in chase of conceptual accuracy and able contributions of the opinion(s) of his acceptance on the affair at discourse. On the annual of Oluwole, affair up the conceptual and analytical rigour of Maula led to a axiological claiming that affected her to anticipate and address lucidly.
A. G. Elgood was addition philosopher, who had a amazing access on the abstract accumulation of Oluwole. On the annual of Oluwole, Elgood, who was the Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos, 1966 session, accomplished the 200 akin class, Abstract Analysis. In his altercation and explanations of doctrines such as fatalism, Elgood, according to Oluwole, fabricated some aspersing comments about African thought, which Oluwole alarmingly objected to and resisted adjoin in the address room. Elgood, on the ascendancy of Oluwole, was quoted to accept maintained that Africans are fatalists. The basal altercation of fatalism is that “whatever will be, will be, no amount what you do.” To allegorize Elgood’s point, fatalism expresses that if A was told he would die at “point 2” at time “T” and A decides to be at “point 3” at that time “T” he would still die at “point 2.” Seeing this as a blame of African ability and African peoples, aloft graduation, Oluwole was led into cerebration that best of what accept been said about Africans are suspect.
As a consequence, Oluwole took as imperative, a adverse acknowledgment and acknowledgment to the claims of her abecedary on fatalism and its representations in African behavior and traditions. The point of access of Elgood on Oluwole was that as she became apprehensive of every alien (i.e non-African) animadversion on Africa and her peoples, inadvertently, Oluwole becomes a analytical apostle of African cultures. Oluwole was one of Africa’s foremost philosophers who formed abundantly in the across of articulate attitude as philosophy, and fabricated aboriginal and abnormally apparent contributions to the account of age-old Yoruba aesthetics and African aesthetics in general.
The bookish bound of Oluwole’s abstract trend into the abstraction of Yoruba Ifa articulate attitude was accidentally occasioned by her daughter, Funke Geshide. Geshide apprehend Yoruba and Religions at the University of Lagos and by the time she got married, abundant genitalia of her book collections were larboard on her mother’s (i.e. Oluwole’s) book shelf. One of her archetypal collections was Awon Oju Odu Mereerindinlogun accounting by the arresting Yoruba scholar, Abimbola (1977).
Though not necessarily absorbed by the appellation of the work, Oluwole, who is aimless about the abstracts she reads, had the absorbed of annual a few pages of the book. But to her absolute surprise, by the time she apprehend through verses two, eight and nine of Ejiogbe, and ballad seven of Owonrin meji in the book, she was already a catechumen of the abstraction of Ifa Corpus. The acumen for her assay archetype about-face from boilerplate Western Aesthetics to the abstraction of Yoruba Articulate Attitude was because of the axiological issues of animal actuality abundantly discussed in Ifa corpus. This shift, however, brought with it, a austere claiming for Oluwole. The verses in the Ifa bulk originally abide in circuitous linguistic appearance appropriate of best age-old literatures. In surmounting this challenge, Oluwole acclimatized for the acquirements beneath acclimatized advisers in Yoruba language.
Against this background, Oluwole bound accustomed herself as a arch amount in the beginning acreage of African Philosophy. Amid 1989 and 1996, she formed out bristles books on African philosophy, Readings in African Aesthetics (1989), Witchcraft, Reincarnation and the God Head (Issues in African Philosophy) (1992), Womanhood in Yoruba Acceptable Anticipation (1993), Aesthetics and Articulate Attitude (1995) and Autonomous Patterns and Paradigms: Nigerian Women’s Experience (1996). In 1997, absorption on the essentials of African studies and her assurance to accommodate acceptable annual texts to the Nigerian students, abnormally on African studies, Oluwole edited two volumes of the book of reading, The Essentials of African Studies. Still in 1997, Oluwole was additionally the editor of the archetypal aggregate on Women in the Rural Environment; a advertisement sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
For the account of illustration, a assay of her frequently cited works on Witchcraft, Reincarnation and the God Head and her Aesthetics and Articulate Attitude is in order. Admitting a accumulating of her essays and lectures from 1976 to the aboriginal 1990s, Witchcraft, Reincarnation and the God Head discusses some overlapping contemporary and abiding issues in African Aesthetics as able-bodied as non-African specific cum political issues. With advertence to that of the culturally specific themes, Oluwole affianced herself with some questions which comedy an important allotment in accustomed African life: the assay of magic, the acceptance in fatalism and reincarnation, the acceptance in witchcraft, the acceptance in God, and the attempt of Yoruba morality.
She emphasized that the abnormality of abracadabra should not be approached from a rigid, accurate angle which excludes annihilation that does not fit aural the system. Mysteries are phenomena which are not yet accustomed and explained, however, this does not beggarly that they can never be understood; there is still the achievability of an account in the approaching (Oluwole, 1992: 19). Science should not artlessly avoid them or acknowledge them not real, but should analyse and certificate these phenomena instead, attempting to accept how they operate. She discussed additionally the botheration of fatalism, and the rational base of Yoruba ethics.
The non-African specific and essays on political capacity are “The Concept of a Accustomed God,” “Institutional Neutrality and Bookish Freedom” and “Democracy or Mediocrity?” Her article on institutional neutrality is a analytical acknowledgment to an beforehand assignment by F.A. Adeigbo (1985) on “Neutrality Arguments and Educational Relevance’: ‘The Chess Game Analogy”. On bookish freedom, she proposed that the affirmation of the universities for bookish abandon cannot be afar from the affair of the alone neutrality of every distinct academic.
The amount of bookish abandon and bookish candor is artlessly aloof to the after-effects of investigations. Provided that political abandon is acclimatized beneath the awning of bookish freedom, the assurance of political institutions is justified in Oluwole’s assessment (1992: 103). Her assay apropos “Democracy or Mediocrity” is provocative. Democracy is based on accustomed capitalism and eligibility, but, whilst the appropriate to vote as a basal political appropriate is above question, accustomed accommodation is a little added problematic. Humans are altered in both qualities and abilities; consequently, not all animal beings are appropriately able to exercise power. Thus, the botheration of avant-garde autonomous societies is their carelessness of the “specification of the qualities which absolve the arrangement of a affiliate of the accompaniment to authority the reins of government, to angle in for the demos, to organize, plan, administrate and adapt the absolute association of a bodies who allocate their rights to run their lives the way he deems best” (Oluwole, 1992: 120). Her aftermost article in the volume, “Africans and the chastity of Nuclear War” is an African angle and application of a accustomed and non-cultural specific ethical issue, that of nuclear ammunition and war. Her altercation is that “if the cry adjoin Nuclear war charge be presented by philosophers on the belvedere of morality, again we charge alpha on an adage that condemns all wars- accustomed or nuclear” (Oluwole, 1992: 137-138).
Oluwole speaking at UNILAG during a branch organised by the Philosophers Association of Nigeria in May 2018
Using actual sources of articulate tradition, Oluwole active heuristic criticism to break what was again an accustomed cliché amid scholars: that articulate traditions such as proverbs are folk or bogus Philosophy. Instead, she accustomed that some articulate texts authorize as Aesthetics and that what makes them Aesthetics is not the assay per se done on them by a able philosopher (which is the accustomed acceptance in some quarters), rather, what qualifies them as Aesthetics is inherent in them. Thus, Oluwole assured that adverse to the broadly accustomed apriorism of Wiredu, Hountondji and others (to the aftereffect that “a apprentice who wishes to apperceive the Aesthetics of a Western philosopher goes anon to such a actuality or to his/her assignment and not to poor peasants or amulet priests” (Wiredu, 1980: )), “the babalawo and the priests who are custodians of articulate traditions are philosophers because they can criticize and adapt both old and new attempt of ideas”.
But besides the cultural and historiographical acceptation of her abstraction on age-old Yoruba aesthetics as able-bodied as the accurate acceptation of her apriorism on witchcraft, the approaching abstract implications of Oluwole’s new and adventuresome apriorism on Socrates and Orunmila as two angel saints of classical philosophies with abundant affinities at the akin of account and history (Oluwole, 2007) is bookish inviting. Those attractive appear and absolutely espousing Greek aesthetics as the sole archetypal and foundation of Western aesthetics to the abuse or absolute abnegation of age-old African thinkers are apprenticed to activate to actively amend the bearing of their positions by archeologically researching into acceptable African articulate sources for abeyant discoveries of classical African philosophers.
Another aspect of the Yoruba aesthetics that absorbed Oluwole is the Ifa corpus, which is the autumn abode of Yoruba knowledge. Her attack into the abstract base of Ifa, which had ahead been conceived absolutely as a divination system, began with her altercation of “African Aesthetics as illustrated in Ifa Corpus” (1996). On the base of the affirmation from two verses from Ifa bulk – Oyeku meji and Oworin meji, she approved how some age-old African arcane pieces authorize as specimens of austere philosophy.
In a accompanying development, Oluwole has a cardinal of works that ascertain her scholarship in adage as abstract studies. In her paper, “Science in Yoruba Articulate Tradition” (2007) and “Proverbs as Expressions of African Philosophy” (2010), Oluwole affianced in a heuristic assay of proverbs to appearance that age-old African thinkers were rational, accurate and abstract in the austere faculty of the usages of the term, science and Philosophy.
Her absolutely arresting able career and achievements acknowledge her enviable contributions to the action of apperception in Africa. An absurd bookish by all standards, Oluwole was one of the best arresting Nigerian philosophers in the world. The across and the abyss of her scholarship are not alone absorbing but additionally broadly acknowledged. In this regard, she wa a almsman of abounding awards and honours from institutions in Africa and beyond. She accustomed the award-winning of Bundesstudentenring, West Germany 1965-1967, University of Lagos Postgraduate scholarship accolade 1971-1972; she was the aboriginal almsman of Jean Harris accolade for outstanding addition to the advance and development of women in association by Rotary International in 1997; Emotan accolade for women achievers, 2001. It is not an overemphasis that she has contributed relentlessly to the advance of women, and altruism in general.
She authored books on some actual issues in African Philosophy. Actuality the aboriginal changeable assistant of African aesthetics in Nigeria, the Philosopher-Queen is a domiciliary name in the action of Aesthetics in Nigeria. With seven books (both authored and edited), nine book chapters, sixteen account accessories and some book reviews to her name, Oluwole is bewitched in Yoruba language. Not abounding Nigerian advisers of our time can lay affirmation to such contributions to scholarship of the aboriginal order. Oluwole’s bookish abundance is phenomenal, abnormally aback beheld from the Nigerian bookish ambiance which is arresting abundant to bookish proclivities because of abridgement of enabling facilities. Actuality a philosopher is her profession; writing, publishing and speaking at arrive accessible gatherings are her passions; and active up to what she preaches is a habit.
Fayemi, Ph.D, is a postdoctoral assay fellow, Department of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
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