|Urhobo Historical Society|
PROFESSOR OMAFUME F. ONOGE
Radical Scholar and Social Activist
Prof. Omafume F. Onoge is a son of the Uvwie Kingdom of the Urhobo nation. He was born on Friday October 21, 1938 to the highly respected late Ohonvwore of Uvwie, Onoge Inuvwoho of the Onomiayefe lineage of Ugborikoko and Madam Ighofose Okoro of Udumuorugbo, Ekpokpo (Effurun)
Prof. Onoge, who has an established reputation as an erudite, radical and social activist scholar, had his Primary education at St. Andrew’s C.M.S. School, Warri, from where he proceeded to Urhobo College Effurun in 1952 for his secondary education. In 1957 he passed his West African School Certificate Examination at Grade One level.
After a one-year stint in the United Africa Company (UAC) as a clerk, he was admitted into the school of Agriculture first at Akure and later at the Moore Plantation, Ibadan, to undergo the three-year Agricultural Superintendent Course. In 1961 about midway through the agricultural training, Prof. Omafume Onoge competed for, and won one of the undergraduate scholarships offered by a consortium of American Universities under the scheme, African Scholarship Programme of American Universities (ASPAU).
He recalls that this scholarship was the momentous breakthrough that he needed in order to actualize his father’s total passion for the education of all his children without gender discrimination. Although Pa Onoge himself did not have the opportunity to go to school, he vowed that all his children would have formal education. Thus, despite his lean financial resources he was concerned that Omafume, his senior child, must have a University education to serve as an effective role model for others.
Omafume Onoge’s dedication and brilliance was readily recognized at Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota, where he completed his undergraduate studies in two years, 1961 – 1963. He earned his B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) in Sociology, with a Minor in Psychology. He was on the Dean’s Honour List throughout his undergraduate studies.
In recognition of his intellectual strengths and moral integrity, his Alma Mater submitted his name to the Danforth Foundation to compete for one of the prestigious Danforth Fellowships for the postgraduate training of outstanding graduate students who are likely to take up academic careers in University teaching. Omafume Onoge was the second student in the history of Macalester College to win the Fellowship.
In 1963, he was admitted into the famous Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts, where he utilized the Fellowship to undertake graduate training in Social Anthropology and subsequently obtained his M.A. Degree enroute to the Ph.D which he earned in 1970.
Teaching, Research and Administrative Experience
Prof. Onoge, whose first career love is teaching, is acknowledged as an exciting, stimulating and devoted lecturer by students who have taken his courses at different Universities in the U.S.A, East Africa and Nigeria over the past four decades. He has taught at Harvard University, Macalester College, University of Massachusetts (Boston branch) all in the U.S.A. He also taught at the University of Dar es Salam, Tanzania and in Nigeria at the University of Ibadan where he also served as Warden 1970 – 2 and Acting Hall Master of Independence Hall in 1974; College of Education, Abraka; and at the University of Jos where he was appointed Professor and Chair of Sociology Department in 1982.
In addition to being Head of Department, Professor Onoge also held various positions including:
Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies
Chairman of Board, University of Jos Consultancy Services
Director, Centre for Development Studies
Elected Senate Member of Council of the University, and
From 2000 – 2003, Professor Onoge was also Executive Director, Centre for Advanced Social Science (CASS), Port Harcourt, the research NGO founded by the late Prof. Claude Ake.
National, State and Community Service
Highlights of such service by Prof. Onoge include the following:
Membership of Bendel State Committee constituted by Governor Ambrose Alli to draft the State’s position on Derivation Principle in revenue allocation
Membership of Federal Government Delegation to the Peoples Republic of China in 1976 in respect of Youth Affairs
Chair of MAMSER Resource Panel on Political Education
Leader of a three-man research study tour of selected African countries (TOGO, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe) on comparative Social Mobilization Projects at the instance of the Directorate for Social Mobilization, Abuja, Nigeria.
Adviser to the Federal Government Delegation to UNESCO, Paris, at the conference on Culture and Development
Member of Delta State Delegation at the National Political Reforms Conference, Abuja, 2005
Member of the Academic Planning Committee of the new Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun.
Deputy Chair, Nigeria Labour Congress Commission at 30
Was actively involved in the political struggle to create an autonomous Uvwie Local Government Council
Chair, Uvwie General Improvement Union (UGIU) Panel on University Scholarships
Active Member, UGIU Committee on Voter Registration exercise
Chair, National Census Enlightenment Support Committee of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU).
Professional and Community Honours include:
2003: Distinguished and Committed Alumnus Award from Urhobo College Old Students Association (UCOSA)
Second Vice President of the Social Science Academy of Nigeria
Leading Member of South South Confab Rep. Award from the Ekpan Community National Convention Organizing Committee
Outstanding Niger Deltan Award by the Niger Delta Democratic Forum
Award of Excellence from the Uvwie General Improvement Union (UGIU)
Award for Meritorious Contribution to Sociology from the Nigerian Anthropological and Sociological Association (NASA)
Guest Lecturer Plaques from Command and Staff College, National War College, Abuja, and Rotary International District 9140, Warri.
Those who had close contact with Prof. Omafume Onoge attest to his humility and fundamental hatred of all forms of oppression and injustice. His consistent commitment to the democratic empowerment of the masses and the quest for a humanist social order had sometimes placed him in difficulty with the ruling establishments of the Nigerian State. Prof. Onoge nonetheless states that his humanist vision is rooted firmly in the early moral education he received from his father; his intellectual encounter with the non-racial, anti-imperialist Pan-Africanism of Kwame Nkrumah; the great Civil Rights Movements led by Reverend Martin Luther King; as well as the radical optimism of the Marxist outlook on the transitions of socio – economic formations.
His seminal publications which traverse socio-cultural theory, sociology of Literature, medical anthropology, national liberation movements, gender equality, youth rebellions, religions of the poor, and the dialectics of post-colonial democratization, are driven by his core pro-people values.
Prof. Omafume F. Onoge is the first Uvwie Ph.D Lecturer and Professor, as well as University Orator. He retired from the University of Jos on October 20, 2003. Since his retirement, Prof. Onoge had predictably been serving his Uvwie and Urhobo communities in various capacities by deploying his intellect, exposure and networks.
Prof. Onoge was married to an ideal companion, late Barrister Mrs Patience Ogheneochuko Onoge, nee Egbelughe, of Ekpan in Uvwie Kingdom. The family is blessed with three daughters and two sons as follows;
Ms Forabo Bamidele Onoge – Attorney, New York, U.S.A.
Edirin Keyamo Onoge – West Virginia, U.S.A.
Barr. Ms Otome Ighofose Onoge – Legal Practitioner
Ms Rukewan Onoge – Babcock University, Ilisan Remo, Ogun State.