Prof Sophie Oluwole dies at 83

Prof Sophie Oluwole

Foremost African philosopher Professor Sophie Oluwole has died at the age of 83, has learnt.

Dean of the Faculty of Art, University of Lagos (UNILAG) Prof Muyiwa Falaiye confirmed to this online newspaper that she passed on at about 8pm on Sunday after a protracted illness.

Popularly known as Mamalawo, Oluwole was the first Nigerian female doctorate degree holder in philosophy and a practitioner of Yoruba philosophy.

Born in Igbara-oke, Ondo State in 1936, she studied history, geography and philosophy at UNILAG and eventually settled on philosophy.

Following her first degree, she was employed in UNILAG for a time as an assistant lecturer in 1972, and went on to complete her PhD in philosophy at the University of Ibadan.

She taught African Philosophy at UNILAG for six years between 2002 and 2008.

Oluwole’s teachings and works were generally attributed to the Yoruba school of philosophical thought, which was ingrained in the cultural and religious beliefs of the various regions of Yorubaland.

According to Oluwole, this branch of philosophy predates the Western tradition, as the ancient African philosopher Orunmila predates Socrates by her estimate.

These two thinkers, representing the values of the African and Western traditions, are two of Oluwole’s biggest influences, and she compares the two in her book Socrates and Orunmila.