Landmark: Female pioneer, Professor Adétówún Ogunṣẹ̀yẹ́, turns 90 – Tola Adenle

March 9, 2017



Professor Adetowun Ogunṣẹ̀yẹ́


Adetowun Ogunseye scored many firsts in her long and very productive academic career among which are first female to attend and graduate from Nigeria’s first tertiary institution, the Yaba Higher College, the first Nigerian female graduate of Cambridge University, first Nigerian female professor – a feat achieved from Nigeria’s first university (the University of Ibadan), and  first female Dean of Educatio in a Nigerian university (also at UI).

Although she turned 90 in December,  Atáyéṣe, a Yoruba socio-cultural organiṣation, marked the event last month with a well-attended lecture at Ibadan.

Born at Benin in today’s Bendel State, Ogunṣẹyẹ – nee Banjo of THE Banjo family in Ijebu-Ode in Yoruba’s Southwestern Nigeria homeland – is sister to late Col. Victor Banjo, who lost his life in very unfortunate circumstance during the Nigerian/Biafran War. Banjo (B.Sc. Mech Engr.), attained a Colonel rank in the Nigerian Army but ended up on the (Igbo) Biafran side where he lost his life in 1967. Another very accomplished Banjo was a Professor of Anatomy Adesegun [Ade]banjo, a younger brother of Victor, who practised medicine in the USA and was once accused of importing arms during the Abacha regime. This is not a story of the Ijebu Banjos but necessary by-the-way to highlight the story of Adetowun Ogunseye as a product of a very remarkable family. The army officer,Victor, was also a lover of books who penned many affectionate letters to his spouse while held in prison, letters that were later published.

Adetowun had her secondary education at Nigeria’s most prestigious girls’ school, Queen’s College, Lagos, a school founded in 1928, two years after she was born.  She made Grade I Certificate in the Cambridge School Certificate of 1945 (finals of then West African School Certificate) after which Yaba Higher College was the next natural academic step for a very brilliant student because it would be three years before the University of Ibadan would matriculate its first undergraduates. She studied and graduated from Cambridge in 1952.

For such a brilliant person, the world of books in every aspect has always been her love, and an American education in Library Studies where she added a Masters in Library Studies to her educational qualifications. Even today, she still makes time for the International Board of Books for Youth among many socio-cultural ad educational organizations to which she belongs.

Apart from her academic doctorate, Mrs. Adetowun Ogunseye, married to late Professor Ayo Ogunseye, an economist whose academic home was also the UI, holds multiple honorary degrees principal among which is the D.Litt. by UI, the institution where she had her academic career in the Library School.

The establishment of Abadina Media Resource center at the University of Ibadan as a library and learning center for children and youth will forever be a testimony to Ogunseye’s love of books and her desire to pass such a love to generations yet unborn. It is internationally-recognized and is, perhaps, one of her outstanding accomplishments in a crowded field of many.

A very public-spirited person, Ogunseye belongs to many international and Nigerian organizations and bodies many of which saw her serve in high positions: the Association of University of Women (President, 1971-1975);  Zonta Internatioal (vice-President, 1971-73), and International Board of Books for Youths (1985-1996).

Professor Adetowun Ogunse and her late husband are parents of succeful children and grandchildren.

Present among many at the lecture by Brian Brown, an African-American social commentator whose writings have been featured in Nigeria’s The Nation were Professors Bolanle Awe; Bimpe Aboyade, Adebisi Sowunmi, Mrs. P. Ajayi-Obe (SAN),  former UI VC, A.B.O. Oyediran, Professor Babajide Lucas and  Ambassador Michael Ononaye.

The lecture took place at Aboyade House, Ibadan.



A few photographs from the occasion





THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2017. 6:20 a.m. [GMT]

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2 Comments on “Landmark: Female pioneer, Professor Adétówún Ogunṣẹ̀yẹ́, turns 90 – Tola Adenle”

  1. Fatai Bakare Says:

    A sound intellectual woman professor. May you live more fruitful years on earth.



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Fatai,

      A sound intellectual, and a very rare gem for many just coming up to look up to.

      Thanks v much, and a resounding “Amen” to your prayers for her.

      Sincere regards,



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