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Remembering Professor Mosobalaje Oyawoye: A Year Of Loss And Legacy by Jimsonjaat86: 12:31pm On May 25
By Abdulfatai Tomori


Death, a natural occurrence that cannot be avoided, brings about feelings of sorrow, regret, and mourning. It is a universal phenomenon that does not discriminate between the rich and the poor. In its unpredictable nature, it often spares the wicked and claims the virtuous. This reminds us of the Yoruba adage, "Igi toto kii pe n'gbo," which translates to "Impeccable trees do not live long in the forest." Today, we mark the first anniversary of the passing of Professor Jimoh Moshobalaje Oyawoye, a distinguished geologist, esteemed academic, and an icon in Nigeria's education landscape. His departure was deeply felt, not only within the academic community but also throughout the entire nation. On this occasion, we take a moment to reflect on his significant contributions, enduring legacy, and the lasting impact he had on generations of scholars.

Professor Mosobalaje Oyawoye, born on August 12, 1927, in Offa, Kwara State, displayed remarkable brilliance from a young age. After completing his primary education at United School Esa-Oke, under the guidance of Headmaster Boda Popoola, Prof. Oyawoye became one of the pioneer students at Offa Grammar School (OGS). He continued his education at Ibadan Grammar School, completing his secondary education in 1949. His passion for knowledge and insatiable curiosity led him to pursue a career in geology. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Washington State University in the United States in 1959. Subsequently, he pursued further studies at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, obtaining a Ph.D. in Geology in 1956.

Upon returning to Nigeria, Professor Oyawoye embarked on a distinguished career at the University of Ibadan. He began as a lecturer and quickly rose through the ranks to become a Professor of Geology within a span of six years, becoming the first African Professor of Geology in 1966. Two years later, he was appointed Head of the Geology Department at the University. Throughout his tenure, he played a pivotal role in strengthening the academic and research excellence that propelled the University of Ibadan to international recognition.

Professor Oyawoye made significant contributions to the field of geology. He devoted his life to the study of Nigeria's geological formations and played a crucial role in establishing the Department of Geology at the University of Ibadan. This was of utmost importance due to the emerging petroleum industry and the shortage of skilled workers in the country. As Chairman of the OAU Team of Experts in the Inter-Africa Centre for Earth Sciences, Professor Oyawoye increased awareness among African countries regarding the economic value of comprehensive geological surveys conducted by indigenous geologists. His efforts were particularly beneficial to Eastern and Southern African countries that heavily rely on mining. Nigeria's remarkable achievements in the petroleum industry came earlier than anticipated, validating Professor Oyawoye's foresight.

His successful academic and professional career will undoubtedly continue to serve as an inspiration to numerous aspiring scholars. Professor Jimoh Mosobalaje Oyawoye was not only a rare role model but also a trailblazer. He mentored and produced many students who now occupy prominent positions in the mining and petroleum industries. It is no wonder that Prof. Oyawoye is lovingly referred to as the "Father of Geology" in Nigeria. Baba Oyawoye was highly regarded as one of Nigeria's esteemed intellectuals, as well as being recognized as one of Africa's most cherished contributions to the world. The extensive recognition he received through numerous awards demonstrates the weight and significance of his accomplishments.

Professor Oyawoye made substantial contributions to the advancement of humanity, which undoubtedly justified the various awards he received. His impact reached far beyond his distinguished position as the first professor of geology in Africa. He was a true pioneer, leaving an indelible mark on the field of geology and making meaningful contributions to various organizations.

Notably, he held the prestigious distinction of being the first African member of the Board of the International Geological Correlation Programme. This esteemed position acknowledged his expertise and global influence within the field. Additionally, he served as the founding president and first fellow of the Geological Society of Africa, further solidifying his reputation as a leading figure in the geological community.

Professor Oyawoye's contributions extended beyond academic achievements. He played a pivotal role as the first coordinator of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology at the University of Ibadan, where he played a key role in shaping the curriculum and fostering a culture of scientific inquiry and innovation. His leadership and vision laid the foundation for future advancements in applied science and technology in Nigeria. Moreover, Professor Oyawoye made significant contributions to education and research institutions. His achievements as a former national secretary and later national president of the Offa Descendants Union (ODU) exemplified his dedication to community development. Notably, his instrumental role in the establishment of the Summit University in Offa highlights his vision and commitment to advancing education in his hometown. Additionally, the magnificent Central Mosque of Offa came to fruition through his initiative and fundraising efforts, supported by individuals who shared his passion for community development.

Equally noteworthy is his role as the former Kwara State Chairman of Jama'atu Nasir Islam (JNI). He single-handedly completed the JNI Central Mosques in Ilorin and Offa, displaying his unwavering commitment to religious and communal infrastructure development. His dedication led to his turbaning as Balogun Imole (leader of Muslims) in Offa and the first Baba Adinni of Kwara State, recognizing his influential leadership within the religious community.

For over four decades, Professor Oyawoye devoted himself to improving the lives of his community members, earning widespread appreciation for his achievements. His wise counsel has been sought in various aspects of community life in Offa, reflecting the profound impact he has had on the development and progress of the community. In addition to his community leadership, countless scholars and professionals have benefited from his mentorship, ultimately making their mark in various sectors. As a teacher, he was known for his exceptional commitment to his students, pushing them to excel academically and nurturing their research skills. Many have regarded him as a mentor, guide, and father figure who played a pivotal role in shaping their careers.

The multifaceted impact of Professor Oyawoye's legacy serves as a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence, leadership, and community development. His contributions to geology, academia, and society as a whole will forever serve as a guiding light, inspiring and shaping generations to come. As we commemorate the one-year anniversary of Professor Oyawoye's untimely departure, it is incumbent upon us to carry forth his legacy. We must continue to uphold his vision of academic excellence, environmental stewardship, and leadership in the pursuit of knowledge. It is through our collective efforts that we can pay tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the betterment of our nation.

Professor Mosobalaje Oyawoye's presence is still deeply felt, and his absence is mourned. His contributions to geology, academia, and society as a whole will forever serve as a guiding light, inspiring and shaping generations to come. May his memory continue to motivate us to strive for greatness, to be curious in our pursuit of knowledge, and to leave a lasting impact on the world.

Abdulfatai is the Chief Coordinating Officer at BiohistoHub, a research and biography writing organization. You can contact him at obiograph@gmail.com.

Re: Remembering Professor Mosobalaje Oyawoye: A Year Of Loss And Legacy by Bankowner: 1:48pm On May 25
This reminds us of the Yoruba adage, "Igi toto kii pe n'gbo," which translates to "Impeccable trees do not live long in the forest."

For someone born in 1927, I don't believe this your adage fits his passing.
He was 95/96 for crying out loud! Except you want him to be Methuselah.

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