WHERE IS THE WORLD GOING NEXT?
DR. ADEBOWALE: OUT OF HIS MIND?
“Very soon the world will know about Adeyipo Village.”
That was the optimistic and futuristic utterance of Dr. Bayo Adebowale, former Deputy Rector of The Polytechnic, Ibadan. Why not The Polytechnic, Ibadan? Why Adeyipo Village – a seemingly insignificant rural community, existing in near-obscurity on the terrestrial terrain? A village some kilometres away from Ibadan, capital of Oyo state with the road connecting it to the city demanding much resilience from visitors in its rough surface?
Every dawn, a throng of local farmers at Iyana-Irefin in Ibadan board buses going to Adeyipo through Kupe, Idi-Igba, Idi-Ogun and Akobo; the landscape presents a commune of rural centres where farming dominates daily activities. The only diversion is the one created by Dr. Adebowale. Why? Adeyipo houses the first rural community-based African studies research library. And its director and founder is Dr. Bayo Adebowale.
The African Heritage Research Library located in a typical African village is gradually expanding to become the most profound centre of information on Africa and its people. The library prides itself in three existing large halls lined with over 10,000 books and other materials. It is apparently a centre committed to research works on the African continent and the blacks in the Diaspora; it stocks material on subjects as diverse as arts, history, law, government and politics.
The research library is a product of flurry of efforts spanning a decade plus four years. According to The News Magazine “Adebowale was then a lecturer at the former Oyo State College of Education, Ila-Orangun, Osun state. One fateful day in 1988, he sat before his desk, going through an academic journal. A particular article fascinated him. In the write-up, a foreign writer made a lot disparaging remarks on Africa and Africans.”
He portrayed Africa as a continent on an endless rat race. The conclusion was most alarming. The writer insisted that most African countries were not yet ripe for independence. Adebowale saw many contradictions in the article. He, on his own, concluded that the writer must have been a victim of sincere ignorance. But Adebowale was not going to cast aspersion on the article and its author. He realised that the most appropriate solution to the problem of the writer and many others in similar shoes is enlightenment.
There and then, a project was conceived towards proper education on Africa, its history and ways of life of the inhabitants in its book acquisition policy, albeit its special interest is in African studies. It stocks books by writers from all over the world and exposes its researchers to all views leaving them to draw an informal conclusion. Music – being the soul of life – receives adequate attention; the library is a well-stocked store of materials on living and dead music legends. A section of the library has pictures and audio-tapes of jazz music greats of African origin; the musical audio-tapes are being assembled to teach the history of Africa. The centre has a demonstration farm to inculcate in local farmers alternative technique in crop cultivation and control of pests.
The library has a Board of Advisors constituted by eminent scholars from Nigeria and abroad which include Professors Niyi Osundare, Akinwunmi Ishola, Femi Osofisan, Sam Asein, Elechi Amadi and Goke Adeniji from Nigeria. Foreigners on the board include Ngugi Wa Thiong O of Kenya, Oliver B. Johnson and a host of other African American intellectuals.
Adebowale, the celebrated author of The Virgin, Out of His Mind and Lonely Days, himself is a veteran in the field of research. Presently, he spends 70 per cent of his earning on the research library and his dream is that everyone will come to Adeyipo to drink from the “fountain” of authentic African research centre situated in the heart of the continent.
Definitely, Dr. Bayo Adebowale is not Out of His Mind; definitely, no more Lonely Days studying Africa and Africans outside Africa. Why? Africa Heritage Research Library is The Virgin the whole world will chase, praise and embrace!