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Mabogunje; An Icon That Blazed the Trail in Geography

The death of renowned Professor of Geography, Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje on August 4, 2022, dealt a heavy blow and caused a depletion to the body of intellectuals who put Nigeria’s name on the world map. Olutola Daramola in this piece, captures the intellectual world and achievements of the erudite scholar.

Born October 18, 1931, precisely on a Sunday to the family of Pa Joseph Omotunde Mabogunje and Madam Janet Adeola of Ishado Quarters of Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, young Akinlawon spent his early years in Kano. He had his primary education at Holy Trinity Church School, Kano and for his secondary education; Professor Akinlawon Mabogunje proceeded to Ibadan Grammar School.

Professor Akin Mabogunje’s interest in Geography was probably inspired in 1945 as a class IV student at Ibadan Grammar School when he was awarded the class prize for being the best student in Geography. This was only the starting point for young Akin as he won the prize for Geography in all of his remaining years in the school. Just like the goldfish which has no hiding place, Akin again won the departmental prize in Geography at the end of his first year at the College.

Akin Mabogunje in his youthful days

 Interestingly, Akin nursed the idea of studying medicine, however, his early foundation no doubt paved his way to greatness as a force to be reckoned with in the fields of Geography as well as Urban and Regional Planning worldwide.

Shortly after leaving Secondary School, Akinlawon secured a teaching job at Wesley School, Makun, Sagamu.,

Afterward, he sat for the entrance examination to University College, Ibadan, the very first set to take entrance examinations to UCI as the University of Ibadan was then known. He was admitted to read for the Bachelor of Arts(General) degree.

A scholar of no mean repute with international feathers to his cap was Professor Akin Mabogunje who started his lecturing job in the Department of Geography, the University of Ibadan in 1958.

 He had the opportunity of visiting many Nigerian, African and Global institutions, as an expert and external examiner. They include; the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, The University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Lagos, University of Ghana, Legon, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, Fourah Bay College, Freetown, National University Of Lesotho, Maseru, the University of the West Indies, Kingston, University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur University of Nottingham, Britain.

Among many other national assignments, Professor Mabogunje was Senior Adviser on Enumeration Area Demarcation to the National Census Board in 1972, Member of, Public Service Review Commission under Chief Jerome Udoji.

Worthy of mention and of course unforgettable were the contributions of Professor Akin Mabogunje to the development of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

As stated by him in his Autobiography: A measure of Grace,’’ Following the decision of the military administration of General Muritala Mohammed and Brigadier-General Olusegun Obasanjo to move the federal capital from Lagos to a new Federal Capital Territory in the center of the country around Abuja, I was invited in 1976 by the Federal Capital Development Authority to lead a team of scientists to undertake the ecological survey and conduct a survey of the economic assets of the inhabitants of the territory”.

Professor Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje was married to Justice Titilola Mabogunje and the marriage was blessed with children.

Olutola Daramola

Excerpts from “A Measure of Grace: The Autobiography of Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje’

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