Anifowose: Farewell to a good man

The glories of our blood and state

Are shadows, not substantial thing;

There is no armour against fate.

Death lays his icy hands on kings.

Sceptre and crowns must tumble down.

And in the dust be equal made”.

James Shirley (1596-1666) with his Death the Leveller tries to tell us about the ephemeral nature of worldly success, victories, power and influence. The only thing that outlives us all is our good deeds. And since everyone has a date with death, Ernest Hemmingway, (1899-1961), a 1954 Nobel winner in his 1940 novel For Whom The Bell Tolls admonishes us not to ask for whom the funeral bell tolls, because as part of mankind, each human death affects all of us.

Although it was the turn of Professor Anifowose who was laid to rest last Saturday in Ijeda near Ilesha, his passage however was a sad reminder that the bell tolls for each and every one of us. Every transition therefore is an opportunity for introspection about how our lives in terms of charity, compassion and sympathy impact on others we are in a position to help.

Prof Remi Anifowose was a self-made man who achieved greatness through a dint of hard work. He was at the Methodist Teachers college Ifaki-Ekiti between 1959 and 1960 from where he moved to the Methodist Teachers College Sagamu for his Grade II Teacher’s Certificate between1963 and 1964. He combined his teaching job with studying at home through Rapids Result Correspondence for his Advance Level GCE certificate which aided his admission to the University of Ibadan in 1966. Not ready to rest on his oars after graduating in 1969, he sought and secured admission to University of Manchester where he completed his Masters and Ph.D. in a record time in 1973. The same year, he joined University of Lagos where he was to spend the next 34 years teaching and mentoring students.

A lifelong relationship with late Professor Anifowose started as a Ph.D. candidate in the early eighties. Professor Adeoye Akinsanya, my supervisor had relocated to Ilorin. Then the late Prof Oyediran who agreed to take me on, at a critical point of the work went on sabbatical to the US. Shortly afterwards, the relevance of my work in the Department of Political Science became an issue.

But Anifowose, my second supervisor came to my rescue by pointing out that ‘politics is communication’ since the whole idea of the modern nation state is nothing but a ‘decision and control system’ in which the communication media becomes an instrument for waging a battle of consciousness, citing Deutsch, Dudley, Coleman, Rosberg, Claude Ake Lucien Pye and Karl Marx himself who insisted ‘the idea of the ruling class are in any every epoch the ruling idea’.

From there it was a smooth ride to my defence for which he had warned – ‘Don’t stop talking except you are stopped because it is your work’!

But those were the days of committed scholarship and mentorship. It was the days of Adele Jinadu, Moyibi Amoda, Oye Oyediran, Bolaji Akinyemi, Stephen Odugbemi, Alaba Ogunsanwo Jide Coker, Ben Amunoo, Godfrey Nweke. Those were the days lecturers played leading role in the formulation and implementation of public policies and foreign policy objectives. Those were the days lecturers instilled confidence rather than fear in their students. It was from Prof Adele Jinadu I first heard professors and Ph.D. students are colleagues, the only distinction being that the latter are ‘junior’ colleagues. It was that generation of committed scholars and mentors that told us that the preoccupation of every professor should be how to reproduce himself in his specialized field and thereafter step aside to work under his former student.

That Anifowose lived that credo was self-evident with the presence of his academic children, grand-children, great-grand-children and great-great grand-children at Ijeda last Saturday. Representing his academic children were professors Derin Ologbenla, the current HOD, Browne Onuoha, a former HOD, Maduabum, Mudashiru, Unfondu and Dr M M Fadakinte. Also there to bid him good bye were his academic grand-children including Dr. Laja Odukoya the immediate past Acting HOD, Dr GSM Okeke, Dr. Emmanuel Onah, Dr. Fedinard Otto, Dr Augustine Eneanya Dr Lara Quadri, Dr Kayode Esuola, all associate professors in the department. Professor Anifowose’s academic great grand-children were also fully represented in Ijeda by Dr Dele Ashiru, the current ASUU chairman, Dr Awosika, Dr Salami, Dr Akintola Benson, Dr Akinwale, Dr Manuwa, Dr Nwachukwu, Dr Popoola, Dr Henry Otoighile among others. And of course among his great-great-great academic grand children at Ijeda were Ebenezar Ishola, Vera Amaechi and James Nwali.

Professor Anifowose, regarded by many as ‘one the best hands in the academia’ lived a fulfilled life as a teacher, mentor and an accomplished scholar. He was a man of peace who freely gave his time that others may excel. He was an embodiment of compassion. He was a man of generous spirit.

His colleagues of over 50 years from University of Ibadan spoke of his humanity. To Emeritus Professor J. Bayo Adekanye who believes ‘The Nigerian Political Science community has lost a gem’, ‘he was a good, honest, unassuming and a committed academic”. For Emeritus Professor JAA Ayoade ‘the late Anifowose was given to a life of humility and frankness. He was down to earth and courageous. In his academic life, he was painstakingly in search of truth. His judgment was ever fair and objective”.

For Professor Osaghae Egbosa, ‘the powerful intellect in him never missed the opportunity to engage in a combat, but he was ever so friendly and nice. He was a good man’. And to Professor Adigun Agbaje, ‘he will for ever live in his heart in the role he played in his academic development just as many and uncountable others would fondly remember him’, while Professor Femi Mimiko saw him as ‘a compelling scholar and most distinguished gentleman’.

Prof Solomon Akinboye, former Dean of University of Lagos Post graduate School who was also at Ijeda last Saturday spoke of ‘his commitment to scholarship and dedication to service’ and of how Anifowose took special interest in grooming him when he joined the department in 1991 as lecturer II. Dr Henry Otoighile who represented the 1982 set expressed immense gratitude of his set for the nurturing they received from Prof Anifowose which he said was the foundation for the giant strides they have made in society.

With this type of home recognition and the testimonies coming from the best in our field, I am sureAnifowose will sleep well in his grave for living a life of service.

And finally, as Chief Moluyi Oluwatoye his childhood friend and Professor Solomon Akinboye, his protégé attested, Professor Remi Anifose was until his death committed to his Methodist faith. Besides living his footprint on the sand of time, they both hope to see him on resurrection day.

For the consolation of his immediate family and extended academic family members, let us conclude this tribute to Professor Remi Anifowose with John Donne’s (1572-1631) most famous poem:

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so”.

Die not, poor death, nor yet

Canst thou kill me…”

Because the soul lives on after life, people will awake to eternal life after death, leading to the death of death itself.

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