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Conflicts branded religions are less of God, but economic survival, spaces preservation, says UI Don

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Afis Ayinde Oladosu

Scholarship is meant to illuminate and that is what Afis Ayinde Oladosu, a professor in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan is expected to do, as he presents the 489th inaugural lecture of Nigeria’s premier university on April 15.

Oladosu is a cultural critic. His scholarly horizon and expertise straddle Arab-Islamism, Arab-Muslim Modernities and Middle-Eastern and North African Studies. So it is not surprising that his lecture is titled, Arab-Islamism, Afrabism and contrapuntal criticism.

Oladosu in a brief about his lecture stated that the spaces of conflicts around the world commonly branded as religious are actually less about God and more about the preservation of spaces of power as well as contest for economic survival and prosperity.

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“In other words, the fissures and fractures in our national polity, which are sometimes branded as religious are actually less about creed, faith or ideology and much more about material prosperity.”

He implored experts in the twin disciplines of Arabic and Islamic studies to explore more ways by which their relevance to national development could be made more visible.

“The time seems to have come for the exploration of ways by which sub-disciplinary specialisations could be created out of the current Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies; time seems to have come for the reinvention of our discipline in order to allow for more scholarship and growth in the field. This should be in close dialogue with and in response to continuities and change in Muslim societies and communities in and across the West and North African sub-regions.

“The reinvention of our disciplines that I am calling for could also be through the expansion of African Studies progamme in this university to include the North African region. Indeed, the establishment of a Program in Middle Eastern and North African Studies in this part of the world has become a desideratum. Such a Program, when established here in Ibadan, would strengthen intra-African relations and enhance the status of our University as the primus interpares in the sub-Saharan region.”

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In deepening the scholarship in his area of study, he suggested that new connections and collaborations should be forged among universities where Arabic and Islamic studies are being taught here in Nigeria with those in the northern parts of Africa.

He called for a return to the situation in the late and early 1980s when scholars were seconded to universities in Nigeria from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa has become a desideratum given the close connections that now exist among cultures and peoples in the world today.

“In order for our nation to realise its destiny and achieve its potentials, concerted efforts must be made by Ministries, Directorates and Agencies (MDAs) of government to remove all policies and regulations that constitute infractions of the nation’s constitution. The promotion of peaceful relationships among the various ethnic and religious identities and communities in this nation by government agencies is a sine qua non for development and advancement.”

On Oladosu’s scholarly interest after the lecture, he said he plans to continue on the same trajectory that has led him to the height he has attained scholarly; that trajectory that often leads to the birth of organic intellectuals; of scholars who speak truth to power; that trajectory along which the production of knowledge for the advancement of humanity represents the touchstone of academic excellence.

“I plan to continue to dedicate my service to the production of human capital for this nation without which there can be no development. I plan to continue to bring my expertise as an administrator and scholar to the service of the Nigerian University System (NUS) and dedicate myself to the eternal ideal of mentoring the future generations of this nation and cultivating intercultural and global peace and dialogue.”

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Before his promotion to the rank of Professor at the University of Ibadan in 2011, Afis had competed for and won the following international fellowships and scholarships: 2006 Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Southern Maine and Southern Maine Community College (SMCC), United States; 2007 Bill Gates Scholarship and Fellowship of African Scholar Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, United States; 2009 Visiting Scholarship at the University of Ghana, Accra and 2010 Visiting Professorship at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Only recently (2019), he completed his sabbatical leave at the University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana.

He has participated in and presented papers in local and international conferences and seminars on Arab-Islamic culture, terrorism, peace-building, gender in Arab societies, law and religion and on globalization. He has served and still serves as external examiner for under- and graduate programmes and as assessor for professorial promotions for universities in and outside Nigeria including the International Islamic University, Malaysia (IIUM) and University of The Gambia, Banjul.

Afis is a member of many learned societies including American Studies Association (ASA), United State, Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), Nigerian Association of Teachers of Arabic and Islamic Studies (NATAIS), Association of Professional Translators of English-Arabic in Universities (APETAU), and African Consortium for the Study of Law and Religion (ACLARS) South Africa among others. He presently serves as Board Member, Islam in Africa Study Group (IASG), an affiliate of ASA, United State and as Member of the Governing Board, National University Commission, (NUC). He is married with children.

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