Tribute: Sophie Oluwole: 1936- December 24rd 2018

Born at an area of Ondo state known as Igbara Oke, Sophie Oluwole is the first female Nigerian to bag a Phd in Philosposhy.

She had her primary school educations in Ife, in the 1040s while being critical of the educational system.

She studied History, Geography and Philosphy at the University of Lagos and eventually settled unto Philosophy; a path she eventually plied all her life. After her first degree, she was employed in UNILAG for a time as an assistant lecturer in 1972, and went on to complete her PhD in philosophy at the University of Ibadan, thus making her the first female doctorate degree holder in philosophy in Nigeria.

As a qualified professor, Oluwole taught African Philosophy at UNILAG for six years between 2002 and 2008.

She was often called Mamalawo a nickname which was borne from her becoming the first female PhD holder in the country. The nickname was supposed to be the female version of the Yoruba word ‘Babalawo’ – a spiritual title which denotes a priest of the Ifa Oracle.

More to her nickname as Mamalawo is the fact that Sophie’s teachings and works were generally attributed to the Yoruba school of philosophical thought.

The ideology was ingrained in the cultural and religious beliefs (Ifá) of the various regions of Yorubaland.

According to Sophie, this branch of philosophy predates the Western tradition, as the ancient African philosopher Orunmila predates Socrates by her estimate. Scholars believe that these two thinkers, representing the values of the African and Western traditions, are “two of Sophie’s biggest influences, and she compares the two in her book Socrates and Orunmila”.

Until her death, she was a senior lecturer at the University of Lagos and the Chief Executive Officer of Centre for African Culture and Development.

Adeiu Mama Sophie. May your illustrious soul find eternal peace and rest

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