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Biography Of Kenneth Dike, First Vice Chancellor Of The University Of Ibadan - Nairaland / General - Nairaland

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Biography Of Kenneth Dike, First Vice Chancellor Of The University Of Ibadan by slimdiggi: 1:43pm On Aug 18, 2015
I remember writing my final year school project on this great man. My research on his life, works and career took me to places I had never been before and met people that this man touched their lives. Kenneth Dike is an unsung hero...

Born in Awka, eastern Nigeria, Kenneth Onwuka Dike was educated in West Africa, England and Scotland. He attended Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone and also Durham University, the University of Aberdeen, and King's College London. During the 1960s, as a member of the University of Ibadan's history department, he played a pioneering role in promoting African leadership of scholarly works published on Africa. As the head of the organizing committee of the First International Congress of Africanists in Ghana in 1963, he sought for a strengthened meticulous non-colonial focused African research, publication of research in various languages including indigenous and foreign, so as to introduce native speakers to history and for people to view African history through a common eye. In 1965 he was elected chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

His resignation as Ibadan's vice-chancellor came in December 1966, at the beginning of the Nigerian civil war. As an Ibo and an Easterner, his role as a head university administrator in Western Nigeria became untenable. A long struggle to keep his position was lost to a Yoruba opponent, and Dike made the critical decision at that point to opt for "a new life in an independent Eastern state" (John de St. Jorre). Dike joined fellow Ibo people in Eastern Nigeria who were seeking secession and to form a separate nation. This new nation was to be called Biafra, named for the Bight of Biafra at the mouth of the Niger river. The name of this body of water separating the eastern and western parts of Nigeria has since been erased from maps of the reunified nation.

From Ibadan Dike, as a former vice-chancellor, went home to become Biafra's roving ambassador. He acted in this capacity from 1967 to 1970, travelling extensively and speaking out on behalf of the Biafran position in the civil conflict. In 1969 he appeared in the United States before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. His remarks during this visit were quoted widely in aWashington Post article entitled "Biafra explains its case" (April 13, 1969). Dike proved to be one of Biafra's top emissaries. He was a visible and important component in negotiations at various stages throughout the conflict. His voice rang out loudly pleading for Biafran recognition. During the war years he held a new post as vice-chancellor at Nsukka University in Biafran territory. Nsukka was known for hosting a core group of "international stars of the Ibo elite" referred to as an "Nsukka secessionist group" (de St. Jorre).

By 1968 Dike's position with regard to Biafra had become unshakable. Prior to that time Eastern Nigerian attempts to achieve a loose confederation with the West had his support. These overtures, however, had been rebuffed by the West. As a result, Dike felt that "after so much sacrifice we are not prepared to go backā€¦." Biafra's eventual and necessary unconditional surrender was certainly a blow to this determined intellectual. Still, during the final days of the secession effort he served as Biafra's representative at cease-fire negotiations in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
During the postwar years, in the 1970s, Dike went into exile and took up an academic position at Harvard University in the United States. At Harvard from 1971 to 1973 he was chair of the Committee on African Studies. Then in 1973 he was appointed the first Mellon Professor of African History at Harvard. He continued to teach there until 1978, when he found it possible to return to Nigeria.

Back in Nigeria he again went into administrative work, this time as president of Anambra State University. Anambra is located in Enugu in the Eastern part of the reunited nation northeast of his birthplace, Awka. Dike was accompanied by his wife Ona when he returned to Nigeria. Dike died in an Enugu hospital on October 26, 1983, at the age of 65. At the time of his death, one daughter, Nneka, and one son, Emeka, lived in Nigeria's capital city, Lagos, on the Western coast. Three other children (two daughters, Chinwe and Ona, and one son, Obi) remained in the United States, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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Re: Biography Of Kenneth Dike, First Vice Chancellor Of The University Of Ibadan by Nobody: 1:48pm On Aug 18, 2015
Biographies of notable scholars never cease to inspire me.
Re: Biography Of Kenneth Dike, First Vice Chancellor Of The University Of Ibadan by jesussaves22: 2:27pm On Aug 18, 2015
The great man and his works

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