By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with the family of Prof. Sophie Oluwole, renowned philosopher and Nigeria’s first female doctorate degree holder in philosophy, who died on Monday. She was aged 83.
The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina in Abuja on Monday, joined members of the family, the academia and other close associates in mourning the philosopher.
He noted that the deceased had through her teachings and works celebrated the Yoruba culture, history and worldview, and reminded the world that within pristine traditions are values that promote the ideals of democracy, fairness, equity and justice.
Buhari said that the deceased would be honoured and remembered for her commitment in promoting African tradition, culture, knowledge and languages.
He urged all who mourned Prof. Oluwole to honour her memory by carrying on from where she left in her zeal to promote indigenous knowledge, skills and discipline that could help to redefine people and a nation.
The President prayed that almighty God grant her soul eternal rest and comfort and grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Born in Igbara-oke, Ondo State in 1936, Oluwole died in the early hours of Monday, Dec. 24.
She went to school in Ife, and was critical of the education system in the 1940s, saying a woman’s career prospects were “not your ambition: it was your parents’ ambition.”
She studied History, Geography and Philosophy at University of Lagos (UNILAG) and eventually settled on philosophy.
Following her first degree, she was employed in UNILAG as an assistant lecturer in 1972, and went on to complete her PhD in philosophy at University of Ibadan.
The first female doctorate degree holder in philosophy in Nigeria and professor taught African Philosophy at UNILAG for six years between 2002 and 2008.
Oluwole’s teachings and works generally attributed to the Yoruba school of philosophical thought were ingrained in the cultural and religious beliefs(Ifá) of the various regions of Yorubaland.
According to Oluwole, this branch of philosophy predates the Western tradition, as the ancient African philosopher Orunmila predates Socrates by her estimate.
The two thinkers, representing the values of the African and Western traditions, were two of Oluwole’s biggest influences and she compared the two in her book — Socrates and Orunmila.