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Kenneth Dike, Nigeria’s first professor of history

Professor Kenneth Dike of the University of Ibadan was the first Nigerian professor of History. He lived between 1917 and 1983.

The Professor who hails from Anambra State had competences that spans across the Igbo history.

Also, he is unique for creating a purely Nigerian perspective to history. Most foreign authors narrated African and black history from their own bias and prejudices.

Through the school he founded, called the “Ibadan school” he was able to influence the generation of historians after him to give more Nigerian expressions to history. History as a subject was once removed from the school curriculum for some years despite the many gains and progress that it recorded since the days of Professor Kenneth Dike. However, it has been reintroduced to the school curriculum.

Following the reintroduction of the study of history to primary and secondary schools in Nigeria, light has been thrown once again to the ancient discipline that is as old as man.

To begin with, there is always a first man to engage in the practice of any discipline. The study and achievements of these men form the foundation for any new development in the field. That is why Professor Dike is relevant at this critical period when History makes another come back.

In the western academic tradition, Herodotus is the acclaimed father of history. However, each era and period of historical advancement has a major figure whose thought pattern often influence it.

History is the study of past events. It has political economic and social dimensions and it is a sensitive subject because it does not leave out anything. It covers the good the bad and the ugly.

His work in Nigeria was interrupted during the Nigerian civil war which saw the death of national icons like the Sardauna Alh Ahmadu Bello. During the war he taught at Harvard University because the country was not favorable for his works at that time.

The story of history as a subject in Nigeria is also similar to that of its first Professor. While history thrived for many years in the Nigerian educational system, it was again removed by the federal ministry of education during the 2009/2010 academic session. The motive behind its removal is still shrouded in secrecy to this day. However, its reinstatement seems to be a cheering news to lovers of history and professionals all over the country.

It was a dark period like the time that the first indigenous professor of history Kenneth Dike left Nigeria for Harvard during the Nigerian civil war.

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