Former acting Vice-Chancellor of the Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Prof. Adekunle Adeniran, tells OLUFEMI ATOYEBI how he got his two biggest promotions in his academic career in one day
Kindly shed light on your career.
I was born in 1935 and like the life of most Ibadan people of my generation; life for me began in the rural area. My grandfather moved out of Ibadan central to settle in Ogeye village in Lagelu council area of the city. At six, I started schooling at Methodist Primary School, Kelebe, a village that is one kilometre away from Ogeye. I also attended Christ Apostolic Church School and returned to the village and attended St. Luke’s Primary School, St Andrew’s Primary School and then back to Ibadan central to complete my primary school education at Agbeni Methodist School.
Why were you moving from one school to the other?
Family circumstances warranted it. I did not repeat any class because I was doing well in my study. I went to live with a relation in the city but when he fell ill, I returned to the village.
Were your parents educated?
I don’t know who taught my father how to read and write Yoruba. He was a local leader, a lay reader and a preacher at Methodist Church, Kelebe. He was a little bit enlightened and his views and opinions were respected. In those days, he helped the colonial government to collect taxes from the people and took them to a collection point in Ibadan. He was also a farmer in food and cash crop. He had cocoa, cola nut and palm trees farms.
How was your secondary school experience?
Interestingly, I did not attend any regular or conventional secondary school at all. I read at home on my own. My first formal education ended in standard six which my parents were proud of. I became an untrained teacher at a Methodist school in Lerin which is now in Ogun State. I also taught at St. Luke’s Primary School, Offa-Igbo. In 1955, I was admitted into St. Luke’s Teacher Training College where I obtained Grade Three and later Grade Two which was called Higher Elementary certificates.
In between the two certificates, I passed the London General Certificate of Education and later wrote the Advanced Level Examination which qualified me to become a student of the University of Ibadan in September 1963. I did a degree in English and graduated in June 1966. Fortune smiled on me because in November of the same year of graduation, I was given a job as graduate trainee in UI. It afforded me to study more. I went to the University of Leeds in England and returned in 1966 to do my doctorate degree in UI. I retired in 2005 as a professor. I became a professor in 1992.
Can you compare your youthful days to what we have now?
Ibadan then was not as cosmopolitan as it is today. There were non-native that were prosperous just as we have today but the city is today far more complex. I have lived through three stages of political and social life. I have witnessed the colonial era, the beginning of the self-rule in the late 50s with the likes of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Adelabu Adegoke and others playing major roles. When Adelabu was killed, people thought my father was a member of the Action Group because of the leading role he was playing. He was attacked in our village and he ran 20 kilometers on foot to our family house at Oja-Igbo in Ibadan. In January 1966 when Major Kaduna Nzeogwu staged the first coup, I was in the university. We were very jubilant even though many of us did not know the details. We just wanted a change that will stop the central government from using its power to suppress the Western Region politically. We jumped into available taxis and expressed support for the coup. We are now in a completely different political phase because of the sustained democracy and its challenges.
I remember that in our days, we ate healthily because we lived only on vegetables and natural foods. Nowadays, people live on all kinds of western-oriented foods that are sophisticated. We ate pounded yam, amala, pap etc. Rice was a delicacy for the educated and enlightened people. I can’t remember my parents cooking rice because we had other good food as farmers. My father had trees of oranges that children plucked for free. Today, everything has been monetised.
What about the mode of dressing at the time?
Apart from my school uniform, I did not have a shirt or a pair of trousers until I became a teacher. On Sunday we wore buba and soro (native attire) to church service.