Kenneth Onwuka Dike (1962-1967)


Pioneer Director of the Institute, Prof Kenneth Dike was educated at Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha; Achimota College, Ghana, Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone, the University of Durham, England, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and the University of London, England. He was Lecturer in History, University College, Ibadan (1950-52), Senior Research Fellow, West African Institute of Social and Economic Research (1952- 54), Senior Lecturer in History, University College, Ibadan (1954-56), and in 1956 was appointed Professor of History. In 1958 he became the first African Principal of University College, Ibadan, and, two years later, when the College became a full-fledged University, he was made its first Vice-Chancellor, a position he occupied until 1966 when he retired.

Other firsts were scored by Prof Dike when he became founding Director of the Nigerian National Archives (1951-64) and first Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Chairman of the Nigerian Antiquities Commission (1954-66), and President of the Historical Society of Nigeria (1955-67). In 1970 he became Professor of History, Harvard University. He was awarded honorary LLDs of the Universities of Aberdeen, Leeds, Columbia, Princeton, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He was also honoured with an honorary DLitt by the University of Boston and the University of Birmingham. Moscow University gave him an honorary DSc.

Prof Dike’s publications include the foll owing: Report on the Preservation and Administration of Historical Records in Nigeria (1953), Trade and Politics in the Nigeria Delta 1830-1890 (1956), A Hundred Years of British Rule in Nigeria (1957), The Origins of the Niger Missions (1958). He died in 1983. The Department of History, University of Ibadan, has instituted an annual award in his name, and the Main Library of the University of Ibadan is named after him.


Robert Gelston Armstrong (1967-1975, 1976-1977)


A social anthropologist who made remarkable and enduring contributions to linguistics, Prof Robert Armstrong, Odejo of Idomaland, was the longest serving Director of the Institute, totalling nine years in the position. He attended Western Hills High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, and served as a cryptanalyst in the US army during the Second World War. He obtained his BA in sociology from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, his MA in social anthropology from the University of Oklahoma, and his PhD in social anthropology from the University of Chicago. He taught at the University of Puerto Rico (1947-1948). In 1953 he was Research Fellow of the Colonial Social Science Research Council in London during which time he conducted field research into Idoma culture. He taught anthropology at Atlanta University (1955-59), becoming Professor in 1958. In 1963 he became Research Professor of Linguistics at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. He was editor of the Journal of West African Languages (1963-72). Prof Armstrong was fluent in French, German and Spanish. He read Idoma, Yoruba, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian. He analysed Latin, Igbo, Akweya, Yala and Hausa texts. He conducted extensive research on Idoma language and culture, and did similar work on Yoruba.

His publications include A Comparative Word List of Five Igbo Dialects (1967) and The Study of West African Languages (1967). He made translations of Oba Koso by Duro Ladipo (1972), The Palm Wine Drinkard by Kola Ogunmola (1972), and Onugbo Mloko by S.O.O. Amali (1972). These are available in bilingual publications at the Institute. Professor died on 29 April, 1987.


Obaro Ikime (1975-1976)


Born in 1936, Prof Obaro Ikime, a historian, attended Government College, Ughelli, then known as Warri College, from (1950-56), and the University of Ibadan, graduating BA (1961) and PhD (1965). He was Lecturer in History at Ibadan from 1964, becoming Professor in 1973. In 1975, he was Visiting Professor first at UCLA, then at Berkeley, and later at Harvard. In 1981-82 he was Visiting Professor at the University of Benin.

Professor Ikime was on the Editorial Board of Tarikh (1967-73), the Journal of African History (1979-81), and was General Editor of African Historical Biographies. He left the Institute as Director to serve his former Department as Head, and later became the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan. He was the President and remains a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria. A keen sportsman, he was Chairman of the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) and Vice-President of the Federation of African University Sports. His publications include Nana of the Niger Delta (1968), The Isoko People: A Historical Survey (1972), Leadership in 19th Century Africa (1974), The Member for Warri Province (1977), and The Fall of Nigeria (1977).


Saburi Oladeni Biobaku (1976-1982)


Historian, educationist and administrator, Prof Saburi Biobaku was the fourth Director of the Institute. He was educated at Government College, Ibadan (1932-37), Higher College, Yaba (1938-41), University of Exeter (1944-45), Trinity College, University of Cambridge (1945-47), and the Institute of Historical Research, London (1950-51). After teaching at Government College, Ibadan (1941-43) and Government College Umuahia (1947-49), he moved into administration as Assistant Liaison Officer, Nigerian Students, Colonial Office, United Kingdom (1951-53), later becoming Registrar, University of Ibadan (1953-57), Secretary to the Premier and Executive Council, Western Region (1957-61), and Pro-Chancellor, University of Ife (1961-65). He returned to academic pursuits in 1965 when he became Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (1965-72). In 1976 he became the Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.

Prof Biobaku held many important positions in professional societies, including being Vice-President, Society of African Culture and President, Historical Society of Nigeria (1967-71). He was Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Encyclopaedia Africana. Professor Biobaku was honoured with the Nigerian titles of Are of Iddo, Abeokuta, Agbaakin of Igbore, Abeokuta and a foreign title, Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CBE) in 1961. He also had an honorary doctorate from the USSR Academy of Science. His publications include The Origin of the Yoruba (1955) and The Egba and Their Neighbours (1957). In 1973, he edited Sources of Yoruba History. Prof Biobaku died in 2001.


Bolanle Alake Awe (1983-1990)

Historian, Prof Bolanle Awe was the first woman Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. She was educated at the Church Missionary Society Girls’ School, Lagos (1946-50), St Anne’s School, Ibadan (1950-51), Perse School for Girls, Cambridge, England (1952-54), the University of St Andrews, Scotland (1954-58), and the University of Oxford (1958-66). She graduated MA in 1958 and DPhil in 1964. She has been engaged in university teaching since 1960 when she joined the staff of the University of Ibadan as a Lecturer in History (1960-66). She worked briefly at the University of Lagos (1966-69) as Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies, and returned to Ibadan where she became Research Professor of History (1977). She was National Secretary, Nigerian Association of University Women (1962-63), and editor of Lagos Notes and Records (1967-69) and of African Notes (1970-75). In 1973 she was Phelps-Stoke Fellow, African Lecture Series in the USA.

Between 1975 and 1978, she served in the cabinet of the Oyo State Government, first as Commissioner for Education and later as Commissioner for Trade, Industries and Cooperatives. A spirited humanist, Professor has chaired major international conferences on women in industry and in national development, and she was Chairperson of the Oyo State Committee on the Southern African Relief Fund (1977-78). She is a Life Member of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. In 1982 she was, first, Visiting Fellow at Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, then Associate Researcher, Centro de Estudos Afro-Orientais da Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil. Professor Awe has published extensively in the area of Oral History and Women’s Studies. She co-edited The City of Ibadan (1967). She was President, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Ibadan Chapter (1982-83). In 1982, she was a recipient of the National award, Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR).


Cornelius Oyeleke Adepegba (1991-1994, 1998-2001)


A foremost African Art Historian, Cornelius Adepegba studied for his BA (Fine Arts) at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, earning a first-className degree in 1971. He later went to Indiana University, USA, for his MA (1975) and PhD (1976) in Art History. Joining the University of Ibadan in 1972, Adepegba taught African Art at the Jos Campus of the University until 1973. He would later move to the Department of Archaeology in Ibadan. He joined the Institute of African Studies in 1980, and taught Pre-Islamic Art of Africa, Saharan Rock Art, Sub-Saharan African Art and 20th-Century African Art, in addition to the many MA, MPhil and PhD dissertations he supervised.

Adepegba’s scholarly works have appeared in several local and international journals, such as The Nigerian Field, West African Journal of Archaeology, Nigerian Magazine, Journal of African Studies, and International Journal of African Historical Studies. A veteran curator, Adepegba mounted and supervised many exhibitions, ranging from those of the works of contemporary African artists to collections of traditional artefacts. From 1978, he was in charge of the collection of ethnographic and contemporary arts at the Institute of African Studies until it became a full-fledged museum in 1984. Adepegba became the honorary curator of the Institute Museum in 1986. He was Fulbright Scholar resident at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1993 where he curated ‘A-Historical Sculpture of West Africa’ for the Trout Gallery.

Cornelius Adepegba became Professor of Art History at the Institute of African Studies in 1987. He died in October, 2002 in active service while planning an academic visit to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.


Mosunmola Ayoka Omibiyi-Obidike (1995-1998, 2001-2004)


One of the foremost teachers and researchers in ethnomusicology in Nigeria, Prof Omibiyi-Obidike got her BA in music (1968), MA in African Studies (1969) and PhD in Music Education (1972) from University of California. She was awarded the Western State Government Scholarship from 1964 to 1968, and University of California Scholarship in 1969. She was Alexander von Humboldt Fellow between 1981 and 1982.

Omibiyi-Obidike joined the Institute of African Studies in January 1978 as Research Fellow I. In Nigerian and foreign institutions, she taught and gave lectures on the nature of African music, African-American music, Nigerian folk music, and the linguistic influence on music in Africa. A practitioner, she performed solo as well as in concerts and operas on many occasions. She had a solo performance before an NBC-invited audience in Ibadan in 1962, and played a major role in the operetta ‘The Sound of Music’ in 1965. She gave various solo performances in Los Angeles between 1968 and 1970.

Omibiyi-Obidike’s works appeared in books and learned journals such as African Music, Pan-African Journal, Universitas and Nigerian Magazine. She served as consultant on a number of projects such as Black Studies Project on Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee (1974) and Ethnic Heritage Project, Bowie State College (1974-1975). She was Member, Committee on Music for the Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77), Chairperson, National Committee on Nigerian Musical Instruments, and Co-ordinator of the National Secretariat of the International Centre for African Music and Dance (ICAMD). Omibiyi-Obidike became a Research Professor at the Institute of African Studies in 1989. She was elected President, Association of Nigerian Musicologists (ANIM) from 2004-2008, and inducted into the Fellowship of the association in 2015.

Though she retired in 2008, she continued to render her services to the University of Ibadan, especially in relation to supervising students on the higher degree in ethnomusicology. Professor Omibiyi-Obidike died in 2016.

Professor Omibiyi-Obidike died in 2016.

Alexander Ubi Iwara (1991, 2004-2007)


Educated at the Universities of Ibadan, Wales, Paris and London, Prof Iwara has a BA (Hons) in Latin and French, MA and PhD in French, and MPhil in Linguistics. He was University of Ibadan Postgraduate Scholar (1968-1970) and UNESCO Fellow (1979).

Before joining the Institute of African Studies, Iwara had taught French and ClassNameical Literature in the Department of Modern European Languages, University of Ibadan (1971-1978). Upon transferring his service to Institute as Senior Lecturer in 1978, he taught Philosophy and Language, African Thought, and Languages and Societies of Africa. He had been editor of such notable journals as African Notes and Le Français au Nigeria.

During the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, Iwara was Principal Colloquium Officer and later Director of the Colloquium Division (1976-1978). He has widely researched and published on French language and culture, and African languages and linguistics.

Prof Iwara retired in 2008.

Oladele Olatunde Layiwola (2007-2010, 2013-2016)


A teacher and researcher of Performance and Cultural Studies, Prof Layiwola earned his BA (Hons) in English from Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1981 and PhD in Theatre Studies from the famous school of English at Leeds University, Yorkshire, England in 1986. He was a Commonwealth Scholar at Leeds (1983-1986). He returned to Nigeria and joined the staff of the Institute of African Studies in the 1986/1987 session. He has been Visiting Commonwealth Fellow at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, County Londonderry, UK, and organized the first Postcolonial Conference at the Armagh Campus of Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1996.

Layiwola has been Humanities Institute Fellow at the Universities of Ghana, Legon and Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA between January and June 1999. Some of his works include A Handbook of Methodology in African Studies (Ibadan, 1999), African Theatre in Performance (Routledge, 1999/2000), Rethinking African Arts and Culture (CASAS, Cape Town, 2000), and Understanding Post-Colonial Identities: Ireland, Africa and the Pacific (Sefer, Ibadan, 2001). He has published in such journals as Dramatic Theory and Criticism (Kansas), Research in African Literatures, New Hibernia Review and Ufahamu (UCLA).

Layiwola was promoted Research Professor in 1998. He was Director, University Media Centre (2001-2003). He served in the Governing Council of the University (2003-2007) and has been external examiner/assessor for Nigerian universities as well as universities in Ghana and Germany.

Isaac Olawale Albert (2010-2013)


Prof Albert, specialist in African History/Peace and Conflict Studies, bagged his BA (Hons) degree in History at the University of Ibadan in 1985. He obtained his MA (1991) and PhD (1994) in African History at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. His MA dissertation was awarded the 1992 thesis-writing prize of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar, Senegal. The same award won by his PhD thesis in 1994. He joined the staff of the Institute of African Studies in 1993 as Junior Research Fellow.

After organizing a conference on the problem of ‘Urban Management and Urban Violence in Africa’ in 1994, he was supported by the British Council in 1996 to initiate a link between the University of Ibadan and the University of Ulster, an initiative that led to the commencement of the MA and PhD programmes in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, in 2000. In 1999, at the behest of the United Nations International Leadership Academy (Amman, Jordan), he pursued a certificate course in peacekeeping and conflict resolution, and he subsequently trained in peace processes in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Finland, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, South Africa and many others places in Africa.

In 2006, the UNDP (Accra, Ghana) engaged him to help establish the MA programme in Peace and Development Studies at the University of the Gold Coast, Ghana. In the 2008/2009 academic session, he founded and was first Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies at the University of Ilorin. He is a co-founder and remains a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, Oxford University. UK. He convened the 2008 Extended Workshop on Social History sponsored by SEPHIS (Netherlands) and CODESRIA (Dakar) on the theme of ‘Historicizing Migration’. In 2007, he served as the Country Director of the Nigerian office of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA). A fellow of several learned societies, including the Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP), the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (Finland), the Ethnic Studies Network (Ireland), etc., he is extensively published both at home and abroad. He was appointed a Professor in 2006, and is the first Director of the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan.

Ohioma Ifounu Pogoson (2016 – 2018)


Prof Ohioma Pogoson teaches postgraduate courses in African Art and Tourism in the Institute of African Studies and other academic departments in the University of Ibadan. He attended Government College, Ughelli (1968-1972). He joined the staff of the Institute in 1985 as a Junior Research Fellow, and received his PhD from the Institute in 1990. In 1997, with Jeff Wall, one of this century’s greatest artist-photographers as Juror, Dr Pogoson was selected for the prestigious Fellowship of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany, where he undertook a six-month study of the social history of Benin arts after one hundred years in Germany. He was a team member (2002-2004) of the College and University Affiliations Programme (CUAP) of the United States State Department Grant No. ASJY 1333 on ‘Enhancing Curricula and Research with Research Minority Cultures’. This grant enabled him to visit the United States annually to teach and examine African Studies-based curricula in Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. In 2006 he won a MacArthur Foundation grant that enabled him to carry out comparative studies of Anglophone and Francophone museums across West Africa and in Britain, especially in Cambridge University.

He is well published, travelled, and has collaborated with scholars from Nigeria, the US and the UK. He has curated exhibitions of African art from Nigeria in the United States. Dr Pogoson continues to write and conduct research into the visual arts of Nigeria, with a recent interest in the art history of northern Edoland. He is Honorary Curator of the Museum of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, in which capacity he has curated over ten major contemporary art exhibitions in the last few years. In 2012/13, he was Visiting Fellow at the Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge. During this period he also worked on the Northcote Thomas collection of Northern Edo art at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge.

Ismaheel Akinade Jimoh (2018-2020)


Dr Jimoh, a Senior Research Fellow and specialist in Arabic Manuscriptology and Cultural Studies, bagged his BA and MA degrees (Combined Hons) in Arabic and Islamic Studies, and PhD in Arabic Literature from the University of Ibadan in 1989, 1992, and 2005 respectively. He won the Basorun M.K.O. Abiola Postgraduate Fellowship in 1993. He joined the services of University of Ibadan as an Arabic/English bilingual Secretary in 1981. He became a member of academic staff at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, in 1993 as a Junior Research Fellow in charge of the Centre for Arabic Documentation. He was Sub-Dean (Postgraduate) of the Institute between 2013 and 2015. He was a Senate Member of the University of Ibadan for many years (2005-2008; 2014-2016 and 2018-2020); and a Senate Member of the National Open University of Nigeria (Headquarters), Victoria Island, Lagos between November 2008 and September 2009 while on Sabbatical Leave.

He attended the International Conference on ‘The Manuscripts of the Qur’ān’, held at the University of Bologna, Italy, in September, 2002; the International Colloquium on ‘Word of God, Art of Man: The Qur’ān and its Creative Expressions’, held at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, in October, 2003; the International Workshop on ‘Transnational Networks and New Religious Actors in West Africa’, held at Paris also in October, 2003; and The Fifth Islamic Manuscript Conference, held at the University of Cambridge, in July, 2009.

Dr Jimoh participated in the Training Workshop for Cataloguers of Islamic Manuscripts organized by Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation at the National Library, Rabat, Morocco between June and July, 2001. He also participated in Cataloguing and Preservation of Arabic Manuscripts at Mama Haidara Library, Timbuktu, Mali between November 2006 and January 2007 under the University of Ibadan 2005-2007 MacArthur Grant for Staff Development.

Dr Jimoh organized a successful international Workshop on ‘Arabic Manuscripts of West Africa’ in 2012 as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan and a Roundtable on ‘Arabic Manuscript Collections of the University of Ibadan’ in 2021.

Dr Jimoh’s works have appeared in books and learned journals such as Nigeria’s Intellectual Heritage, The City of Ibadan, The Legacy of Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Awelenje: Impact on Arabic and Islamic Scholarship in the 21st Century, Al-Maʻhadu’l-ʻArabī An-Naijīrī (Arabic Institute of Nigeria), Human Capital Development, African Notes, Perspectives on Drugs and Society, Context (A Journal of Social and Cultural Studies), Research Bulletin, Al-Fikr, and Melangés de l’Université Saint-Joseph, Beyrouth.