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IFRA-Nigeria/IAS Distinguished Personality Lecture: Thinking Through Archaeology of Wisdom in Nigeria by Prof. Samuel Oluwole Ogundele

IFRA-Nigeria and the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, will welcome Professor Samuel Oluwole Ogundele on Tuesday, 18th of June 2013, at Drapers Hall, Institute of African Studies, to give a Distinguished Personality Lecture entitled “Thinking Through Archaeology of Wisdom in Nigeria”.

Academic Archaeology as a Western science started in Nigeria in 1970/71 at the University of Ibadan. Ibadan located in southwestern Nigeria is the hub of Nigerian Archaeology. In the 1970s and mid-1980s, Archaeology graduates were too few to satisfy the demand of the Federal Department of Antiquities (elevated in 1979 to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments). A few archaeologists were also employed in other cultural institutions like the Centre for Black African Art and Culture and National Centre for Arts and Culture. The focus of archaeologists during the early period was to excavate, analyse, report and curate. There was very little or no space for the public with respect to the study, protection, preservation and relevance of the profession to the contemporary society. Consequently, the role and value of the past continue to diminish. Today’s archaeologists cannot remain satisfied with their own personal agendas, especially in the face of unfavourable public finances among other challenges. Education and training programmes in Archaeology were by the standards and expectations of today, narrowly focused.

Basic research or Fundamentals of Archaeology and knowledge applications must be brought to a common ground, in order to unlock the potential of Nigerian Archaeology. Today, only an infinitesimal portion of Archaeology graduates can get jobs after obtaining M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in higher institutions as lecturers, where they engage primarily in research, teaching and publication. Therefore, it is the ethical responsibility of all stakeholders to domesticate Archaeology and prepare a new generation of student archaeologists capable of remaining afloat the stream of modern education and development.

This new philosophy of Archaeology entails a curriculum reform that creates sufficient space for internship (industrial training) and such new courses as Archaeology of Law; Modern Survey Techniques, Photography and Educational Archaeology. Associate lecturers and/or instructors in relevant fields are needed to ensure high-profile education and training. This is a market-friendly approach to modern archaeology. Nigeria with its triple heritage of oppression, mental subjugation and economic exploitation has to put Archaeology of Wisdom on the front burner of its development actions.

Professor Oluwole Ogundele attended the famous Baptist Boys’ High School Abeokuta and the Polytechnic Ibadan between 1971 and 1977. He proceeded to the University of Ibadan in 1977/78 for his B.A. programme in Archaeology. He made a Second Class Upper Division grade in June 1980. He was appointed Graduate Assistant immediately after his NYSC programme and bagged an M.Sc degree in Archaeology in 1983. Prof. Samuel Oluwole Ogundele, obtained his doctorate in Archaeology from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria in January, 1990. He rose to the level of Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan in October, 1999 and was promoted Full Professor of Settlement and Public Archaeology in October 2007.
Wole Ogundele, a one-time Head of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Ibadan, was a Visiting Scholar to the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa briefly in 2000 and later in 2002/2003. During this period, he served as a member of the research team on the famous iron-age settlement site complex – the Mapungubwe hills in the Limpopo Valley region of South Africa. Apart from his active participation in archaeological field work in the northern part of South Africa, Prof. Ogundele also taught aspects of West African Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology to Wits students during the above two time-periods. He was the first African to teach West African Archaeology in Wits, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Wole Ogundele was a Visiting Professor at the University of Ghana, Legon between 2006 and 2008, and took part in several archaeological field researches in Ghana. He designed (with the collaboration of his Legon colleagues) two courses bordering on Archaeological Knowledge Applications or Public Archaeology. He was also an external examiner at the Department of Archaeology, Legon in 2005. Professor S.O. Ogundele has published four books on aspects of Archaeology and Anthropology of Africa. In addition, he has 60 publications in local and international journals, as well as chapters in books published in Nigeria, United States of America, Britain and India.
In 2003, Professor Ogundele was appointed Environmental Impact Assessment (Archaeological and ethnographical component) Officer for the West Africa Gas Pipeline Company, in Houston, Texas, U.S. He was actively involved at the initial stages of this project in Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria. Prof. Wole Ogundele was appointed Archaeology Consultant to the Niger State Government of Nigeria in 1991. During this period he directed the Kagara Archaeological expedition that led to the discovery of some ancient artifacts that are now being exhibited in the U.K Bello Museum, an important component of the Niger State Centre for Arts and Culture.

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