Professor Felicia Adetowun Omolara Ogunsheye (née Banjo) is the first female of many sides. Her story is that of courage and strength. She had passions like a male. A few days ago, we celebrated international women’s day worldwide with the hashtag #breakthebias and I beg to say, Adetowun Ogunsheye should be the one to take the cover page of the celebration as she singly broke so many biases to rise to stardom.
Professor Adetowun Ogunsheye, who is 95years old was born on 5th December 1926 in Benin, Edo State to parents who hailed from Ogun State. She had her secondary education at Queen’s College, Lagos after which she proceeded to Yaba College of Technology in 1946 where she was the only female student in the whole institution. In 1948, she graduated with a diploma from Yaba College of Technology with recognition as the first lady to graduate from the school.
She proceeded to University College, Ibadan(now the University of Ibadan) and from there went to Newnham College, Cambridge University, the United Kingdom to study Geography on scholarship which earned her a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts in 1952 and 1956 respectively. She was the first black woman there as well. Later on, she bagged another Master’s degree in Library Science from Simmons College in Massachusetts, United States of America in 1962.
Returning to Nigeria, she established the Abadina Media Resource Centre Library at the University of Ibadan. Having fulfilled the requirements, she became a professor at the University of Ibadan in 1973. This qualification made her be appointed as the Dean, of the Faculty of Education at the same university which made her the first woman to become a dean in any Nigerian university.
She has served as a consultant to various organisations, some of which is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (lFLA); the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL); the International Federation of Documentalists (FID); the British Council, the World Bank amongst others.
Talking about awards and recognition, according to Wikipedia, Adetowun received the Ford International Fellow Award in 1961; the Hon. D.L.S. of Simmons College Award in 1969; the Simmons College International Alumnus Award in 1979; the Fulbright Fellowship for Senior African Scholars Award in 1980; the Decade of Women Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Achievement in 1985; Fellow, Nigerian Library Association in 1982 and Nigerian Academy of Education in 1985; Hon. Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) The University of Maiduguri in 1990; and the International Education Hall of Fame, Nigeria in 2000. In her honour, the University of Ibadan named the female postgraduate hall after her name under the administration of Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka.
In 1982, Ile-oluji in Ondo State conferred on her the chieftaincy title of Iyalaje of Ile-Oluji. She is also a serial Author of different academic publications in her area of specialization as well as children’s books.
We celebrate her parents who didn’t accept the notion that their investment in a female ward doesn’t count.