Kolawole: 60 candles the Clement of Ibadan
But for divine intervention, his life would have perfectly illustrated Thomas Gray’s elegy written in a country churchyard. Indeed, Prof. Clement Olusegun Olaniran Kolawole’s life would have been similar to “many a flower that is born to blush unseen, which ultimately wastes its sweetness on the desert air.” Probably though, nobody, outside Iyere-Owo in Ondo State would have known this Professor of Language Education, who is 60 years old today, for his sojourn on earth initially appeared doomed, dark and damned.
However, someone describes ‘miracle’ as a manifestation of God’s power in a matter that is beyond human ability. This seems so much so in the life of a one- time Dean of Faculty of Education who confessed that he neither thought he could amount to anything in life nor believe he could live up to the age of 60. His pessimism, somewhat, about his survival may not be unconnected with the vicissitudes of life, which confronted him at the early stage. Clearly, going through his story, an atheist may probably change his mind to the effect that God exists and rules in the affairs of men.
Hear him, “I did not have the opportunity of being sent for further education when I left the primary school in 1972 because my mother died when I was about seven years old. My father, who ordinarily should be responsible for my education, died in 1971 when I was fourteen years old and had two months to be registered for the entrance examination into the secondary school.”
“Quite naturally, I was enrolled as an apprentice mechanic after the completion of the primary school and that effectively put a stop to my quest for formal education. But, through divine intervention and the courtesy of those who made free education possible in 1979, I gained admission into the African Church Teachers College, Epinmi-Akoko for the Teachers Grade II programme in 1980 and completed it in 1983.”
Perhaps, it is this humble background that has taught Prof. Kolawole to be meek to many men and women he meets on a daily basis. Obviously, he is naturally courteous, kind and cute. In perusing his past, this thorough academic acknowledges the finger of God in his life, hence, his decision to serve God with all his academic wizardry. He is a Pastor of one of the Pentecostal churches where holiness is deeply emphasized. The life of Prof. Kolawole is indeed an inspiring story of a village boy, who comes to town, and eventually becomes an academic king.
Born on August 6, 1957 in Iyere-Owo, Ondo State of Nigeria, young Clement attended the then Ondo State University, now Adekunle Ajasin University, between 1984 and 1988 where he studied English language and Education. Determined to satisfy his quest for more knowledge, Prof. Kolawole in 1990 enrolled for post-graduate studies at the University of Ibadan (UI) where he later obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree in Language Education. Prof. Kolawole who started his teaching career as a Class Teacher at the International school, UI, was an Assistant Lecturer (1993-1996) at University of Ado-Ekiti, before transferring his services to UI as a Lecturer II in 1998 in the Department of Teacher Education. The humble academic was the Dean, faculty of Education between 2011 and 2013 during which he contributed immensely to the development of the Faculty by inviting prominent politicians and dignitaries who donated money for the face-lift of the Faculty.
Having successfully supervised eleven Ph.D candidates and several Master’s theses, Prof. Kolawole can be described as, not only a motivator, but a prophet.
This writer asked some of those who know him intimately to dissect him. Though their views are divergent, their submissions, however, are altogether unanimous. According to immediate past Dean, Faculty of Education, Prof. Mojeed Kolawole Akinsola, ‘’Prof. Kolawole is frank and forthright. When he believes in a course, he will deploy all his energy to ensure that he succeeds, even if it is a wrong course. He is compassionate, but tough. You need to understand him. He does not see blue and call it red. If he discovers that he has made a mistake he will apologise. For instance, recently, he was backing a wrong horse in the selection of leadership of a department. He never knew there was a new regulation. The moment he discovered, he quickly apologised for blindly arguing a bad case. He has contributed immensely to the development of the faculty. When he was the Dean, he was able to invite some politicians who donated to the development of the Faculty. In the area of curriculum development, he is excellent. His contributions at meetings are superb. And he is an academic to the core. At 60, he should remain focused because there is still plenty of life to be enjoyed. He should reflect and begin to think of the legacies to be bequeathed.’’
In his own view, Prof. Gbenga Adewale of Institute of Education confirmed that “Prof. Kolawole is a straightforward man. According to Prof. Adewale’s: “He is a goal getter. When he determines to achieve a goal, nothing stands on his way. He could be described as a bulldozer. He is considerate, he thinks about other people. There was a time I needed somebody to do something for me from his department, he could have seized the opportunity for himself. He didn’t volunteer himself, rather, he directed me to another person. I like him because he does not find it difficult to bow to superior arguments. At 60, he has just begun life. This is the time to be more useful to the society. His wealth of experience is highly needed now. He should give himself more to the mentoring of younger generation.’’
Expressing similar sentiments, Prof. Osiki Jonathan Ohiorenuan, who is the immediate past Head of Department of Guidance and Counselling, emphasized that “Prof. Kolawole is a nice man. “Prof. Kolawole is very vocal. Whatever feeling he has towards any issue he makes it clear. He is godly. You can’t stampede him into taking decisions. He is always ready to help others”. Kolawole is not one of the academics who feel they can engage in intellectual terrorism to cow their students to submission. He listens to you attentively, believing that no one is a sole custodian of knowledge .He has never taken advantage of his students, be it male or female. He discharges his duties with the fear of God, always conscious of his background. He dresses decently.
If indeed we are in this world to live, to love and to leave legacies, Prof. Kolawole is obviously fulfilling destiny.
Saanu is Media Assistant to Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan