First Female Professor in Nigeria Ogunsheye author book at 95 years old

Nigerian first female Professor, Adetowun Ogunsheye, aged 95, weekend, presented a book titled “Aso Oke” in Ibadan, Oyo State in her quest to promote the African cultural heritage. NIGERIAN NEWS

Ogunsheye, a professor of Library Studies, while delivering her speech during the presentation, said Aso Oke is still a strong part of Yoruba culture.

She affirmed that she was in deep respect for the textile and the impactful role it had played in the society.

Among the personalities at the occasion were: former Minister of Industry, Chief (Mrs.) Onikepo Akande, who was the chairman of the occasion; Chairman, Lead City University, Ibadan, Professor Jide Owoeye, Lead Presenter; His Royal Majesty, HRM, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, guest of honour; Dr. Kolade Mosuro, the publisher and a host of others.

While delivering her speech, the former minister, Mrs. Akande, described Professor Ogunsheye as a trailblazer in many respects.

According to her: “This is probably the first time any of us would be gathering to witness the launch of a book by a 95-year old. It is an event we all will remember for a long time.

“Mama, Professor Adetowun Ogunsheye, has been a trailblazer in many respects. I have personally looked up to her and a lot of womenfolk have always looked up to her.

Today, some gender activists talk about breaking the glass ceiling. Mama has been virtually breaking the glass ceiling all her life and by the event of today, is still breaking the glass ceiling.

“As is to be expected, as an academic, she has quite a number of publications to her credit as books, articles in academic journals, etc. Since her retirement, she has continued to render meritorious services to the society. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Senior Citizens Care Foundation and is a certified Christian counsellor.

“Today, by this publication, she has decided to contribute enduringly to our African cultural heritage by leaving a legacy for future generations. She has gifted some of her collections to the Obasanjo Public Library, Otta, as well as the National Museum in Ibadan. Without a doubt, she is an expert on Aso Oke.” She submitted.

The former minister said with the publication, hers is a worthy example of those who bring forth fruit even in their old age.

In his lead presentation, Professor Owoeye, said he had in his academic sojourn been privileged to present quite a number of books, but the book, Aso Oke by Ogunsheye stands tall as it is one with a constellation of artistic, academic, historical and celestial pedigree.

He explained that the book is divided into two parts which the first part consists of three published papers while the second part showcases an impressive catalogue of the Aso Oke fabric collection arranged in decade order.

In the book, according to the lead presenter, the author described the Aso Oke as the prestigious hand-woven cloth of three to five inches wide and 24inch-long strips consisting of the gele, iro and buba for the women and Sokoto, gbariye and agbada for the men.

“My first real encounter happened shortly when I came back from studying abroad. We have heard of Oje, the popular Aso oke market

in Ibadan. However, we were not prepared for the spectacle we saw that early morning in the Labyrinth of Oje market. The mass spread of a variety of colours, choice and designs that greeted us. We just feasted our eyes on the spectacle.

“In the concluding part of the paper, Ogunsheye goes on to trace the history of the Aso oke from 1950 to 2020s. The era of the alaris to the silk cords and the different metamorphosis of colours, designs and styles. I invite you to pick up a copy of the book so as to savour the epochal development of this fascinating textile art.

“The author explored a thorough historical patterns and patterning of Aso oke, aso ofi, sányán, etu, alaari deploying colour specificities as well as other unique identifiers are critical cultural codes in the vintage discourse of aso oke amongst the Yorubas.

“A major significance of the textile is that the Yorùbá aso oke is positioned beyond being a mere piece of clothing but more importantly as a symbol of status, wealth, position of influence, and revered by the elders, hence, the reference to it as ‘aso agba’.” He explained

The chairman of Lead City University said the second part of the book presents an outstanding collection of Aso Oke as follows: “11 fabrics of the 50s; 19 fabrics of the 60s; 9 fabrics of the 70s; 5 fabrics of the 80s; 13 from the 90s; 13 from the 2000s; 22 Fabrics of 2010s and 9 from the 2020s fabric collections.

An unprecedented 101-piece collection of the prized textile of the Yoruba people in a single catalogue.”

In his welcome address, the publisher, Dr Mosuro, stated that he initially rejected a book the author wanted him to market because it was not up to date and match the enthusiasm she was trying to convey.

“When Professor Adetowun Ogunsheye came to see me, she had a book in hand to share with me. She wanted us to market the book. I rejected the assignment because I did not think the book was up to date, and I equally did not think it matched the passion, and the enthusiasm that she tried to convey. I feared I may have been too hard on her, instead she revealed the scholar in her and accepted my criticisms.

“We therefore set out to doing a new book from what she brought to me and the result is the book we are presenting this afternoon. At that first meeting, I also envisioned a presentation like no other, a celebration of her, filled with joy and excitement, and marked with scholarship. Covid made the future foggy and she wondered if she would be alive to see it happen.

“The good Lord has been kind and seen her through a ripe full age and equally seen her to today’s event in celebration of the fruit of her labour. May the good Lord continue to preserve her and her talents. Congratulations Ma.” The publisher narrated.

Also speaking, HRH Oba Abolarin, told the gathering that he is in love with Aso Oke, he wore it around all over the world and received commendations from different calibre of people.

“We are a people who don’t always appreciate who we are and what we are endowed with. Recalled how late sage Obafemi Awolowo in 1929 challenged his students at that time to always appreciate our endorsements. Until we begin to appreciate who we are and pleased with what we have, we may not make much progress as a people.” Orangun of Oke Ila affirmed.

Meanwhile, those who made the publication of the book a success and bought copies include, former Governor of Ogun state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; chairman of the occasion, Chief (Mrs.) Akande; Chief Kola Daisi; the Director General, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection, FCCP, Chief Jibola Ogunsola; Retired DIG Taiwo Lakanu and National librarian, Professor Chinwe Anunobi among others.

NIGERIAN NEWS

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