By Adeolu Akande
Ruminating on Professor (Mrs.) Tomilayo Adekanye’s 70th birthday, the famous Shakespearian saying about accomplishments in life readily comes to mind. He had spoken so well about how man has accomplishments come their way. In his famous book entitled Twelfth Night, he had cautioned man not to be apprehensive of greatness and the road to be trodden to this hilly top. According to immortal Shakespeare, while some are born great, some had greatness thrust at them. Quoting him verbatim, Shakespeare had said “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
Placing Professor (Mrs.) Tomilayo Adekanye on the prism of evaluation of the Great Shakespeare, it is apparent that the middle course Shakespearean assertion perfectly fits this notable scholar as she celebrates 70 years on earth today, September 2, 2012. Her great and impeccable resume, coupled with sparkling credentials as an academic, mother and wife to one of the most celebrated political scientists of our time, Professor `Bayo Adekanye, make her one of the amazons whose celebration by society, put side by side their achievements in life, stand very disproportionate.
Born in 1942, Adekanye’s latter contributions to the course of academia and intellectualism have dwarfed the stories of her birth and upbringing, thus confirming the Shakespearean classification of her accomplishment as through the dint of hard-work. Graduating from the University of Nottingham, England with a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics in 1974, at a time when female education was not in vogue, the young Tomilayo was to advance with the committed zeal of a matador in her resolve to make impact.
Her strides at the vanguard of education at this point in time further helped to whittle down patriarchal claim to superiority at this time and further boosted the female gender’s feminist advocacy for a place in the affairs of society. It is to her credit that she gathered many scholarships as she pursued her educational career with excellence. This included Western Nigerian Government Scholarship at St. Margaret’s School, Ilesha, Nigeria, 1956 – 1961, Western Nigerian Government Scholarship: University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 1962 – 1966; British Council Fees Award: University of Nottingham, England, 1970 – 1971, University of Ife Staff Training Award, 1971 – 1974, and the International Association of University Women Fellowship (Canadian Chapter), 1974.
Mummy, as she is fondly called by many, later proceeded to get an expertise in Agricultural Marketing, with major bias in Demand Analysis and Consumer Studies, Commodity Developments, Trade and Globalization, Agricultural Policies and Rural Development, Gender and Women Studies, Food Securities and Poverty Alleviation, Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Appropriate Technology Development, Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development and Strategies for African Development.
Professor Adekanye has also made great community service through Non-Government Organisations. For instance, she founded the Centre for Gender Governance and Development (CEGGAD) in 1993, launched the CEGGAD Gender and Food Security Programme for Nigeria, University of Ibadan, 2001 and hosted the First CEGGAD Distinguished Lecture Series, Presented by Professor Lillian Trager on “Migration and Rural-Urban Leakages: Implications for Rural Development, Poverty Alleviation and Gender Relations” University of Ibadan 2002 and also hosted the First African Women in Agriculture (AWIA) Day, CEGGAD Headquarters, Ibadan in October 2002. Quite instructive was also her Village Agricultural Technology Adoption Pilot Laboratory Project (VILATAP) at Etikpolo near Anyigba, Dekina L.G.A Kogi State, Nigeria.
If her tiresome list of honours and distinction is not a story fit for fables due to their number, it would be difficult to determine what is fabulous. In 1978, for instance, she was cited in the Who’s Who of Women in Education, First Edition, International Centre, Cambridge, England and in 1985, was selected for inclusion in Bibliographical International, a biographical historiette on men and women of achievement and distinction, Delhi, India. In the same 1985, Adekanye was nominated to the Scientific and Pedagogic Committee of the Regional Pan African Institute for Development, West Africa, Buea, Cameroon, and in 1978-88, was Chairperson, Sub-Committee on Income Generation for Women, Committee on Women and Development, Oyo State, Nigeria. She was also Chairperson, Committee on Better Life for the Rural Women Programme, Oyo State Government, Nigeria, from 1988- 1990.She crowned her public service when she served as the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development in the old Oyo State in the 1980s, leaving a legacy of service and integrity in an era noted more for its infirmities.
Between 1989–2000, this academic amazon was President, Nigerian Association of Professional Women Agriculturists and Home Economists (APWAHE) with headquarters at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Nigeria, and was Chairperson, Centre for Gender, Governance and Development, with Headquarters in Ibadan and Zonal /Contact Offices in several other areas of Nigeria.
In 1996, she became Member, Nigerian Delegation to the World Food Summit, FAO, Rome, November, and Member, Inter-Ministerial Committee for Women’s Cooperative Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Abuja, Nigeria, from November 1997-1998; Member, International Consortium on Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development, Wageningen Agricultural University, the Netherlands, 1999 and in 2004, was recognized by the Osun State Government for a Merit Award for Education in 2004.
As is well known that publications in books and journals are the tonic that make an academic flourish, Adekanye’s strides in this area is daunting and remarkable. She has had her 25 monographs, scores of technical reports published, published five books in her name and 19 chapters of hers published in reputable books. These are aside 22 publications in learned journals, 14 contributions to learned conference papers and 14 invited papers, totalling over 100 academic publications.
In spite of all these academic laurels, the professor is not about books. She is wife to the revered professor of Political Science and mother to many children, including many that she mentored, including the author. As she marks her 70th year on earth, Professor Tomilayo Adekanye deserves kudos not only from the academia but from all as her contributions to knowledge and society have had great impacts on the development of mankind.
• Dr Akande is the Chief of Staff to Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi.