magazine (PDF 16MB)



magazine (PDF 16MB)
Summer 2008
Spring 2008
uSA & Canada $5.95
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The Ooni of Ife
Graced Ifa
at Harvard
Harvard Professor
Jacob Kehinde
A Towering
Figure In
His Field
Stand for our
Osagiede –
“The Passing
of a Great
Prayer Warrior”
Price USA & Canada $5.95
Summer 2008
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
Kehinde A. Adesina, Ph.D. [aka Dr. K.]
Editorial Advisors
Dr. Bolarinwa I. Adesina
Mrs. Monisola Fashokun
Art Director
Leigh Ellis, Ellis Graphic Services
Tech/Web & Internet Advisor
Christopher Fagbolu
Financial Advisor
Tunde Samuel, CPA
Jacob Kehinde
Olupona: A Towering
Figure In His Field
Contributing Writers
Eve Kushner, Bola Adesina, Monisola Fashokun,
Femi Ajimatanrareje, Dele Fagbolu, Funke
Balogun, Newton Ekpo,
Tometi Gbedema, Adewunmi Hassan,
Trina Helmke, Elizabeth Ekpo
Staff Photographers
AmeriDreams Photographer
Rollie Photo
Circulation & Marketing
Internet Order, Direct mail,
and on newsstands
7 Fashion
13 Health
©2008 by Kenbo Publishing. All rights reserved. Reproduction,
in whole or in part, of any text, photography or illustration without
written consent from the publisher is strictly prohibited.
How a Year in Nigeria Changed
My Life
21 Spotlight
Showcasing Your Success
24 Relationships
Finding Happiness in Your
26 Business & Money
Social Networking
28 Education
For Subscription
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Live Long, Live Healthy and Take
Good Care of You
14 Young Dreamers
Dr. K. – [707] 501-8552
[email protected]
Editorial Address
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Fax: (707) 446-3105
Unique African Fasdhions
Taking Stand for Our Students
30 Event Galore
• Ameridreams Remembers
Bishop Humphrey Osagiede:
“The Passing of a Great
Prayer Warrior”
• The Ooni of Ife Graced Ifa
Oracle Conference at Harvard
Summer 2008
From the Publisher’s Desk
Dear Readers,
t’s summer again. Time flies! About this time last year, we launched the premier
issue. Thanks to all our subscribers and advertisers for their continuous
support. Our previous issues have been very well received around the nation and around
the world. The business community has particularly appreciated our profiles of
successful people who are vital to society.
Many of you will recognize the name and face of the person featured in this
issue’s cover story. We are proud to profile Professor Jacob Kehinde Olupona of
Harvard University. I personally appreciate his tireless efforts and the contributions
he has made in the lives of Nigerian citizens in both in the United States and Africa.
His dedication to furthering opportunities for education cannot be overlooked. He is
a true role model not only for Yorubas and Nigerians but for all Africans living in the
United States.
In March 2008, was the only magazine granted exclusive
coverage of a conference that Professor Olupona and the Institute of African Studies
convened at Harvard. The goal of the conference, “Sacred Knowledge, Sacred Power
and Performance: Ifa Divination in West Africa and the African Diaspora,” was to
heighten awareness of the Ifa divination, which is a Yoruba tribal religion.
In this issue we showcase the conference and the royal families who traveled
from Nigeria to grace the occasion. That esteemed group included the Ooni of Ife,
His Royal Majesty Alayeluwa Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II. His Excellency Chief
Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the Governor of Osun State, also attended, as did 10 other
Obas (kings) from Osun State.
You’ll also find a tribute in this issue to our beloved father, uncle, and brother,
Bishop Humphrey Osagiede, who passed on Sunday, June 29, 2008 in Stockton,
California. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
At the request of our readers, we’ve made some changes to the look and content
of this issue. We added “Ameridreams Spotlight,” where you’ll find short success
stories and recognition of good-doers in communities around the globe. We need to hear from you about any
ideas for profiles or compelling stories that you would like us to cover. is your magazine.
My sincere thanks to Eve Kushner, who has been an asset to our magazine. She has done a great job
interviewing people and writing our cover stories since the first issue. Job well done!
Our hard work, integrity, and dedication to what we do will definitely pay off someday. A can-do attitude
breeds excellence. Let’s keep up the good work. God is always on our side. We are proud to be part of your
Enjoy the read!
Yours truly,
Kehinde Adefowope Adesina, Ph.D. [aka Dr. K.]
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
Summer 2008
Trends and Highlights
and Elegance
By Monisola Fashokun
n this issue there are definitely an increasing fusion of styles
and identity as women and men across the globe unanimously
agreed to break through the boundaries of cultural barriers
and embrace uniqueness and elegance.
As it is always our tradition, our amiable team recently
captured the following events both across and around the nation,
most especially “The Bay Area”.
Though some of the fabrics are ethnic, the styles are definitely
international and uniquely individual. Goodbye to the boring days
of “Dansiki and Sokoto” Enjoy it!! H
Continued on page 6
Summer 2008
Summer 2008
Summer 2008
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Summer 2008
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Tips for Staying Healthy
Live Long,
Live Healthy
and Take Good
Care of You
Bola I Adesina, Pharm.D
Good control of your diabetes
means the controlling the ABCs
of diabetes to avoid a heart attack,
a stroke or other complications:
A—is the A1c test that measures
blood glucose average over a
period of time
B—is for blood pressure control
C—is for cholesterol
Remember healthy diabetic
eating include: limiting sweets,
eating often, being careful
about carbohydrate content of
food, eating lots of whole grain
foods, fruits and vegetables,
eat less fatty foods and limit
alcohol intake. Follow the blood
glucose range per your doctor’s
instruction. Low blood sugar
(hypoglycemia) is a dangerous
condition so skipping meals is
not the best way of controlling
your diabetes. If you at risk for
low blood sugar, ask your doctor
about Glucagon for emergency
glucose injection.
meridreams shall continue to
educate our readers on health
issues and how to manage
common disease states. You can look
forward to this kind of health suggestions
and advices in every issue as we care
about you and your health. In this issue
we address the prognosis of diabetes.
What Is Diabetes:
Diabetes is often referred to as “the
Sugar disease”. It a disease in which your
blood glucose or sugar levels are too
high. Glucose is produced from foods
that you eat and broken down to usable
energy form by a hormone called Insulin.
Types of Diabetes:
There are 2 types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes in which the body
(pancreas) does not produce insulin.
Onset is at birth hence commonly
referred to as Juvenile diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes is when the body
does not make use of insulin very
well and so glucose remains in the
blood. Onset of this is adulthood.
Signs to watch:
As glucose accumulates in the
blood it could lead to serious problems
such as damages to the eyes, kidneys
and nerves. Diabetes can eventually
cause heart disease, stroke or the
loss of a limb. Some women during
pregnancy also get diabetes called
Gestational diabetes. Here are signs
to watch for in diabetes; Fatigue
(tiredness), weight loss, blurred vision,
frequent urination and excessive thirst,
sores that would not heal, eating a lot
of food Some people may not have any
A diagnostic fasting blood glucose
test could be used to confirm if you
have diabetes. If you are diagnosed with
diabetes it can be well managed with
life-style modifications. Exercise, good
nutrition and weight control are very
important in controlling your blood
sugar. If your doctor decides to put you
on medication(s), follow the regimen
religiously. Medications could be oral
tablets or insulin injection or sometimes
both. There are blood glucose meters to
monitor and help manage your diabetes
very well. Most insurance company
would cover these monitoring devices so
you could take charge of your condition
by measuring your blood sugar
at home. H
Young Dreamers
Success of Tomorrow
How a Year
in Nigeria
My Life
By Dele Oluwakayode Fagbolu
s an American born about 12 years
ago to Nigerians living in the United
States, I’ve long known that my
journey would not be the typical American
one. My parents have always talked about
sending me to school in Nigeria. For a long
time, I thought they were joking, so I didn’t
pay much attention. I hated the thought of
As it became clearer that I would soon be
going to a Nigerian school, I often asked my
parents what I had done wrong to deserve
such a thing. My friends at school and church
had scared me into believing that there must
be a reason like that. But my parents always
assured me that I’d done nothing wrong.
It’s not that I’m bad or not smart, they said.
Rather they wanted me to learn about their
culture and to appreciate it. They have always
promised themselves that they would do this
for their children. With all these assurances
from my parents, and some curiosity on my
part, I was ready to take on the adventure.
One day in May 2007, my mother, sisters
and I woke up early. It was time to go to
Nigeria. The day had come so quickly! I had
felt calm about it until then. But as we rushed
to the airport, I felt as if a bomb were ready to
explode in my stomach.
I was kind of excited, because I would
see my extended family on both my mother’s
and father’s sides. It would pretty much be
for the first time, though my mom had taken
me to Nigeria when I was about two.
The flight was nice and smooth. From
the plane window, I was seriously amazed
Summer 2008
at Nigeria’s beauty. I could already see the
richness of her natural resources, and I knew
that was just a sample of what I was to see.
My parents enrolled me in The Bells
Comprehensive Secondary School, which is
one of the best schools in Nigeria, if not the best.
The former president of the country founded
this boarding school because he valued
education deeply. The school philosophy is
to produce well-educated, well-adjusted and
disciplined young people who will face adult
life with confidence and who will no doubt
play prominent roles in the adult community.
One of the philosophies posted on campus is
that of a Greek philosopher: “Educated men
are as much superior to uneducated men
as the living are to the dead.” This belief is
reflected on a daily basis in the school. I love
the challenges of its competitive academic
Life at school in Nigeria showed me
how lazy I had been in the United States.
The school culture enforces respect, caring,
discipline and responsibility for one’s
Though my parents had taught me to
respect elders, I have learned the full art of
greeting and welcoming seniors, elders and
teachers at school, which means showing
respect and love through my posture and
words. In Nigeria, respect is generally seen as
a key to unity and to loving each other.
The discipline of waking up on time
and taking care of my personal hygiene has
become a positive habit enforced in me.
I also learned to be responsible for my
belongings and careful with hostel supplies
and classroom objects. Being careless with
our things can sometimes ruin the way others
see us.
The school’s enforcement of rules has
guided us to be our best. The rules have also
taught us to be more responsible for our
actions and to correct ourselves positively.
The Bible says, “With no law, there is no sin,”
and this phrase really defines the way the
school enforces rules.
Having lived and gone to school in
Nigeria has also changed the way I think
about a lot of things that I used to take for
granted in the United States. I told my dad
the other day how I have come to appreciate
the United States even more. Seeing how
people in Nigeria live in poverty, especially
small children, I realize how lucky I was to
be born in the United States.
I would encourage all Nigerian parents
living in the West to send their children to
school in Nigeria. No new experience is ever
comfortable to undertake, especially sending
a child far away to school. But eventually, I
believe, it will pay off for all parties involved.
I want to thank God for giving my parents
the vision to send me to Nigeria.
We young Nigerians are its future. Unless
our parents expose us to Nigeria by having us
live there, attend school there and associate
with our peers there, those of us who were
born outside the country will have trouble
helping to build the nation. I love Nigeria! It
is a blessed country that will, by God’s grace,
truly become a great country.H
Young Dreamers
Well Done!! AmeriDreams
Congratulates Class of 08
Congratulation on job well done! To Young Dreamers who are graduating from High
schools and colleges proceeding to next level of knowledge attainment in colleges and
graduate schools across the nation. They share their rewards and scholarships, colleges
in fall ’08, and their inspirations for future goals.
H i gh Sc hool Graduate s:
Oluwasola Jed Ajimatanrareje
Nigerian, graduated from North Campus High School,
Pinole, California. Jed will attend Contra Costa College in fall
’08 for the next two years. He put it way “My Future if bright!
For 2 Years I will attend Contra Costa College and receive my
Associates Degree in Administration of Justice. Then, I will
transfer to a 4 year and get my Bachelors in Science. I want to
work with juveniles who are released from being incarcerated
and are put on probation. Giving me an opportunity to give
them hope & a successful future”
Funmilola Fagbamila
Nigerian/African-American, graduated from St. Mary’s High
School of Stockton California with GPA of 3.31. Funmi was
awarded Cal Grant and Congo lop Inc. scholarship. She
plans to attend CSU LA, California major in Bio-Chemistry.
“One of my future goals is to become a positive role model in
my community. I plan on working very hard at my selected
major and continuing on to medical school. I feel that I will
impact people by them knowing that with determination, I
can be successful.”
Abieyuwa Oghogho
African, graduated from Oasis High School, Oakland
California with GPA of 3.5. Abi plan to attend CSU Northridge
in fall ’08 with Undecided major. “I plan to gain knowledge,
come back to my community and distribute to it.”
Adedamola Adedapo Fashokun
Nigerian, graduated from Rodriguez High School, Fairfield
California with GPA of 3.8. Damola received scholarship
from Rossi Lynn Foundation and plan to attend University of
California Davis in fall’08 major in Managerial economics. “I
plan to become a cooperate attorney; I can help average people
understand the concept of investing in stocks market.”
Col l e g e G r a d u at es:
Adenola Akilo
Nigerian, graduated from University of Pacific, Stockton
California with GPA of 3.00, major in Chemistry. Nola was
readmitted to UOP for a doctorate program in pharmacy.
“I plan to work as a pharmacist and entrepreneur in both
United States and Nigeria. I would like to contribute to
improvement of peoples’ health through proper consultations
and consistent communication with my patients. I like to
thank my parents as well as the YHI – “Yoruba Heritage
International” community for the constant support and
everlasting love.”
Adetunji Akilo
Nigerian, graduated from CSU Sacramento, California with
GPA of 3.0, major in Mechanical Engineering Technology.
“My future goal is to become a successful design engineer
and give back to those who have helped me get to where
I am today. My mission in life is to help increase the
number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel
academically, succeed professionally and positively impact
the community.
Abanehita Esoimeme
African American/ African, graduated from Humboldt
State University, California with major in Chemistry. “I
will be going to graduate school starting fall 2009 to study
computer science (M.S.) and eventually proceed to advance
degree in chemical engineering (PhD). I plan to research on
alternative fuel so the average person will be able to afford to
fuel his/her vehicle(s) by significantly reducing cost.
Eromosele Esoimeme
Sade Sofowora
African American, graduated from Will.C.Wood High school,
Vacaville California, with GPA of 3.2. Sade will be attending
Solano Community College, Fairfield in fall’08. Sade plan to
major in Nursing RN. “My future goals are to attend Solano
for 2 years then transfer to UCLA, UC Berkeley, or UC San
Francisco. After my professional nursing degree, I plan to
work in a medical facility as a registered nurse.
Adeyemi Akilo
Nigerian, graduated from Elk Grove High School –
Thundering Herd, Elk Grove California with GPA of 3.54.
Yemi will be attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, California,
major in City and Regional Planning. “I consider myself to be
very competitive person who loves the game. As a competitive
scholar athlete in the classroom and on the field. I am not
only a team player, but I consider myself a team leader on
the court and school activities. It is my vision to compete
athletically and receive a quality education at a prestigious
college and positioning myself for a successful life.”
African American, graduated from CSU East Bay, Hayward
California with GPA of 3.33. Major in Bio-Chemistry.
Eromosele received “Future Scholars Award” that will pay for
his one year pre-med education at UC Davis. “In the future
I hope to become a medical doctor. I intend to expand on
the health care system in Nigeria and other under developed
countries in the world.”
Babajide Olupona
Nigerian, graduated from UC Davis, Davis California with
major in Sociology and African American Studies respectively.
“I have decided to return to Nigeria to participate in the
Nigerian Youth Service Corp (national program designed
for youth to serve Nigeria nation for one year after bachelor
degree) as a means of gaining further knowledge about my
culture and also, to give back to the country of my father’s
homeland - Nigeria.”
Harvard Professor Jacob
Kehinde Olupona:
By Eve Kushner
ccording to a proverb of the Yoruba
culture in Nigeria, whoever leaves the
security of home will take along the cloak
of shame. As the teaching has it, once you move
away from home, you’ll become vulnerable to
all sorts of bad treatment. You shouldn’t expect
affection anywhere. No one will know who you
are or what your background is. Even if your
father was a king, nobody has written that on
your forehead, so people will view you as they
So says Jacob Kehinde Olupona, a 57-yearold professor who teaches African and AfricanAmerican Studies and religion at Harvard
University and who has made a name for himself
by focusing on African religious traditions.
Olupona grew up in Nigeria, completed
undergraduate studies at the University of
Nigeria in 1975, received master’s and doctoral
degrees from Boston University in the early
1980s, moved back to Nigeria, and then
immigrated to the United States in 1990 for
professional reasons.
“It’s been a rough road,” he says of his
experiences as an immigrant. As he explains, it’s
difficult to live “in a culture that always secondguesses you, in a culture that doesn’t really think
you’re good enough until you’re able to prove
To tolerate these realities, he has relied on
the wisdom of his culture, which tells him that
nothing about his journey will be easy and that
he therefore has to work all the harder.
work has brought
him success in
spades. Olupona
is the author or
editor of eight
books, including
Prof. Jacob and Dupe
the 2007 work
Olupona at their 1977
African Immigrant
wedding in Ile-Oluji,
Summer 2008
America (co-edited with Regina Gemignani),
which examines the religious practices of
the estimated one million Africans who have
immigrated to the United States over the past
40 years. Both Harvard and the University
of Edinburgh have recognized him for his
intellectual contributions by awarding him
honorary degrees. And in 2007, he received
the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award,
an honor based on his contributions to the
humanities. Olupona received this award
personally from Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s
Over the years, he has received no shortage
of prestigious grants, including ones from
the Guggenheim Foundation, the American
Philosophical Society, Davis Humanities
Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, the
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological
Research, and the Getty Foundation. In 2000,
the Ford Foundation gave the University of
California, Davis (where Olupona taught at the
time) a generous grant for his research on what
would become African Immigrant Religions in
America. That grant launched Olupona into the
national spotlight, by some accounts.
It seems that he has become the media goto person on issues of religion in world affairs,
particularly in relation to Africa. The Washington
Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston
Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee,
and Dallas Morning News have all interviewed
and quoted him. Olupona’s perspectives became
especially valuable to the media when Francis
Arinze, a Nigerian cardinal, stood a good chance
of becoming pope. Olupona was again in
demand when the consecration of a gay bishop
in New Hampshire sparked bitter controversy in
the worldwide Anglican community.
It seems that the proverbial cloak
of shame must be in tatters by now.
Early Life in Nigeria
Olupona and a twin brother were born on
February 5, 1951 in the Nigerian state of Ondo.
About a year later, the brother died of sickle-cell
anemia. Their parents had already lost all their
other children to sickle-cell anemia. That disease
is quite common in Nigeria, as is the incidence
of twins. In fact, the Yoruba-speaking part of
Nigeria has the highest rate of twin births in the
world: about 45 twins per 1,000 births, versus
an average of 4 in 1,000 births worldwide.
Yoruba culture views twins as sacred and as
endowed with special powers. A cultural code
dictates what twins’ names will be, regardless
of gender. The firstborn twin receives the name
Taiwo, which means “having the first taste of
the world.” The other becomes Kehinde, which
means, “arriving after the other.” Despite the
death of his twin, Jacob Kehinde Olupona has a
permanent status as a twin in Yoruba culture.
Traditionally, Yoruba craftspeople have
carved wooden figurines called ere ibeji, pairs
of figurines in honor of “departed” twins, as
Olupona puts it. He remembers growing up
with such a statuette in his house, an image
that represented his dead brother and that also
served to remind Olupona of his own special
identity as a twin.
M. Stoll and G. Stoll, authors of the 1980
book Ibeji, wrote the following about Yoruba
culture: “It is believed that twins are able to
bestow happiness, health and prosperity upon
their family. However, since they can also bring
about disaster, disease and death, they will be
treated with all due respect, loving and care.
Their upbringing is therefore far more permissive
than that of other children.” Olupona concurs
with this assessment.
Olupona believes his status as a twin gave
him a heightened awareness of his culture
and a special perch from which to analyze it.
He explains, “Because I was raised observing
certain taboos and certain practices as a twin,
that enabled me to appreciate the importance
of culture and to understand why culture is so
important to one’s identity and one’s being.”
His observations filled him with curiosity
about how cultures work, a curiosity that drives
his professional inquiries today. At the time of
this writing in summer 2008, he was preparing
a paper about twins for a November meeting
of the American Academy of Religion. Being a
twin, he says, “enables me to be very inquisitive
and to raise questions and try to find answers to
some of these questions, related to the culture
of twins.”
Eventually, Olupona acquired two sisters
Dupe and Jacob Olupona with their son Babajide
at his 2008 graduation from U.C. Davis
and a brother. A bevy of relatives (including
their grandmother) helped the parents rear the
four kids in Ute, a town in the cultural zone of
Owo. According to African tradition, Olupona
says, the more people who bring up a child,
the better. Like many Africans, he regarded all
these relatives as his mothers and fathers. His
language, Yoruba, doesn’t even have words for
“aunt” and “uncle.” For a long time, he believed
his illiterate, childless, and extremely traditional
great-aunt to be his biological mother, even
though his actual mother was very much in the
picture, too.
Religious Underpinnings
His biological father was a prominent
Anglican priest. And when Olupona began
to study religion as a young man, his family
expressed hopes that he would follow his father
into the priesthood. Olupona refused, which
didn’t go over well.
“I don’t think I’m cut out for the priesthood,”
he explains. “I’m very critical of the Anglican
Church. I think my Church is a little bit
hypocritical. There are a lot of things I would
like to see them do that they have not
important it is. And at times I
done. I want them to be more attuned
feel like, if I were able to get
to the problems of the people.” When
hold of those missionaries who
it comes to massive problems in Africa,
came and converted Africans, I
such as governmental corruption, “I
would feel like squeezing them
don’t want them to be passive about
to death, because they have
it. They have to make themselves more
deprived the people of their own
relevant to society. And I’ve not seen
spiritual resources and left them
confused. The African worldview
Although he still worships as an
is still very important and very
Anglican and has never felt tempted
central to life, to existence, to
to practice any indigenous African
identity.” By denying Africans
religions, Olupona feels intellectually
this worldview, Olupona says,
pulled toward those religions. He has
missionaries created “people
studied and written about African Prof. Jacob Olupona
who are caught between these
spirituality and ritual practices, spirit in a rare moment of
two worlds.” Their confusion
possession, Pentecostalism, Yoruba leisure
is a massive problem in Africa
festivals, animal symbolism, and more.
today, he feels. “Not everybody
He says his goal in these studies is to is able to resolve it.”
understand, interpret, and appreciate a part of the Western missionaries first arrived in
culture that has been marginalized and abused. Africa in the 15th century, but real conversion
He doesn’t consider his work on indigenous occurred in the 19th century. Centuries later,
religions to be any kind of preservation effort, the West continues to create conflicts in
because one can’t preserve a religion as if it were Africa, says Olupona. In his view, the spread
a museum object. But he does hope that his of Western ideas and culture in Africa poses
efforts to bring African indigenous religions to a major threat to Africans’ ethnic identity. He
the forefront will help spark a revival of culture cites the detrimental impact of globalization
and tradition in Africa. In fact, he believes this on African indigenous religion, music, dance,
revival has already begun to happen.
and drumming, among other cultural assets. As
In some ways, he doesn’t find it incongruous Western culture steamrolls its way into Africa,
to immerse himself professionally in indigenous Olupona says, “It’s driving local cultures into
religions while worshiping as an Anglican. For oblivion. It’s driving them out of their space.
instance, he says he wholeheartedly believes So people have less and less appreciation of
Yoruba ideas about his specialness as a twin— the importance of their own traditional culture.
even though those ideas originated in a religion And ultimately it’s affecting their identity. If you
he does not practice. “I was born into it,” he lose that, then you lose your mind. You cease
says of his culture,
to become a human being in your own local
so “of course” he
context. You are betwixt and between. You are
believes. “I think
a permanently liminal object. You don’t belong
with those kinds
here, you don’t belong there. That’s not good.”
of worldviews,
you reconcile the
The Challenges of Immigrating
two,” he explains.
from Africa
“One is cultural.
Africans inevitably carry these conflicts
One is religious.”
with them when they immigrate to the United
States. And once they arrive, they face new
come Prof. Jacob Olupona,
identity struggles. According to Olupona,
together, he says. receiving the Nigerian
African immigrants wrestle with a double
“My upbringing National Order of Merit
dilemma: being black and being African.
both Award in 2007 from
He explains, “A number of Africans who
Nigerian president Umaru
come here have no understanding of American
society. And they have no understanding of
ways, however, practicing Christianity has been African-American culture and society.” African
problematic for him. “There’s a conflict between immigrants, he says, may not even know much
my Christian identity and my Africanness,” about the history of slavery. They typically
Olupona says. “Intellectually, I’ve come to respond, he says, by condemning the Africanappreciate the importance of African indigenous American community “for not doing this, not
religion. I don’t practice it, because I’m a
Christian, but I appreciate it, and I know how
Continued on page 18
Summer 2008
doing that.”
Then Africans “settle down” and come to
understand more, Olupona says. But at that
point, “They become more agitated than even
black Americans when it comes to issues of
race. They do not accept that people want to see
them as inferior. They know they’re not. They
know they’re highly competitive. And they don’t
want to be put in places that they know are too
demeaning for them. So they attempt to fight
Olupona has heard criticisms of Africans as
“passive” to issues of race. “That’s not true,” he
insists. “Once they understand it, some of them
cannot even cope with it. They think it’s too
much.” Some move back to Africa.
Of course, he notes, many Africans are
living in the United States purely as economic
refugees. As soon as the situation back home
improves, they return to Africa.
Other Africans stay in the United States
and excel, he says, “because they come with the
ethic of working hard and not allowing little
disappointments to distract them.” Africans
draw on a good deal of confidence, he believes,
and that helps them cope with the challenges.
Prof. Jacob Olupona with the other recipients of
the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award.
Dueling Identities
As for his own experience of living in the
United States, where he is a dual citizen, Olupona
has a mixed reaction. He says he definitely has
positive feelings about the United States. He
likes how each generation of Americans works
to build the country for future generations. He
also likes the sense that if you work hard in this
country, you can make it. He even admires the
patriotism that runs so strong in Americans that
it drives them to behavior that he finds otherwise
inexplicable, such as electing George W. Bush to
a second term.
Most of all, he likes how Americans truly
believe in bringing about change through the
democratic process. In Nigeria, says Olupona,
“There’s a strong philosophical feeling that
there’s going to be change, that no condition
Summer 2008
is permanent.” And yet the
reality is that in Nigeria,
“They don’t allow democracy
to prevail. And that becomes
very frustrating for people.”
Aside from American
politics, however, he feels The Olupona family at the 2008 graduation of Babajide Olupona.
little connection to U.S.
culture. “I’m very traditional.
Nigerian and American ways. He speaks Yoruba
I’m very Yoruba. And I have not changed that,” with them and feels that it’s imperative for them
says Olupona, who hopes to retire in Nigeria.
not to forget their culture. They should take
“Becoming an American doesn’t mean that seriously any aspects of Yoruba culture that are
I should do away with my culture,” he says relevant to life, he says. But at the same time,
emphatically. “Culture is important. If you do “They’re in America, and I know they’re going
away with your culture, you are finished. You to live here, so it’s important for them to know
are done.” Although he says he refrains from what it means to be an African in America.”
passing judgment on American culture, he He and his wife want the children to extract
makes it clear that he enjoys his way of life as whatever is good from American culture and to
a Yoruba. “And I don’t want anybody to take it drop the rest.
away from me,” he says.
All the children have thrived academically
Worked up about an issue that has clearly and professionally. The first is a psychiatrist,
bothered him over the years, he poses a series of the second is a lawyer in a law firm, the third
questions so impassioned that a listener wouldn’t attends Stanford Law School, and the fourth just
dare to answer them: “Does that mean that that graduated from UC Davis.
will stop me from taking part in the American dream? Does it mean it should stop me from Heaps of Professional Success
being an American? Does it mean it should Work has determined the course of
stop me from understanding what America’s all Olupona’s life. If you ask him why he has made
about?” He adamantly answers these questions various decisions along the way, the answer will
in one fell swoop: “Of course not!”
likely involve his academic career.
It might seem as if he faces intolerable Take, for instance, his decision to pursue
conflicts. After all, he’s living in a country while graduate studies in the United States. Although
keeping its culture at arm’s length. Though he many Africans who study abroad do so in
doesn’t plan to live here permanently, he has England, he avoided that path, because he
spent nearly half his life in the United States.
determined the British doctoral system to be
He believes, though, that conflict is a way too narrowly focused. A U.S. doctorate covers a
of life for every human being. “There’s always lot more ground, giving students exposure to a
conflict,” he explains. “We are constantly wider range of subjects, he feels. In the United
resolving conflicts in our day-to-day existence. States, doctoral candidates have the opportunity
And we are adjusting to situations in which to synthesize multiple areas of study and to
we find ourselves as we
grasp connections between
move on in life. Life would
disciplines. This appealed
be meaningless without
immensely to Olupona.
After completing
When an immigrant
a doctorate in the history
rears children in the United
of religions in 1983,
States, there’s certainly
he returned to Nigeria,
enormous potential for
becoming assistant professor
conflicts to surface. Which
and then associate professor
culture and language The Olupona family with the Ooni
in the Department of
of Ife, His Royal Majesty Alayeluwa
should take center stage?
Religious Studies at what
Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, during
Olupona and his wife, his recent visit to Harvard University
is now Obafemi Awolowo
who married in 1977, have for a conference that Jacob Olupona
three daughters born in convened.
Nevertheless, he seems to
1977, 1979, and 1981,
have left Nigeria at nearly
and a son born in 1984. The first and last child every opportunity; between 1987 and 1989,
were born in Nigeria, but all are dual citizens of he took fellowships and research positions in
Nigeria and the United States.
Birmingham, England; Amherst, Massachusetts;
Olupona says he reared his kids in both and Bayreuth, Germany. Finally in 1990,
Mrs. Dupe and Prof. Jacob Olupona with
their eldest daughter, Dr. Tolu Olupona, at her
graduation from medical school.
he decided he could no longer tolerate the
economic and political climate in Nigeria. “Lots
of Nigerian intellectuals and academics left,” he
recalls, because the government had imposed
“draconian economic measures” on its citizens.
Many serious academics went to Europe so they
could do their work.
Olupona instead moved to the United
States, hoping to work productively and
publish his research for a year before returning
to Nigeria. But, he says, “The situation at home
didn’t improve, so I decided to stay put.”
Meanwhile, at that time in the United States,
new opportunities emerged for studying African
Prof. Jacob Olupona with his father, Reverend
Olupona at his graduation from Boston
Up till then, he says, African Studies
programs had focused on political science,
history, and the arts, not on religion. But
around 1990, African-Americans seeking new
spiritual possibilities began taking an interest
in African religions, including the Afro-Cuban
religion Santería and the Afro-Brazilian religion
Candomblé. As African religions gained
prominence in the United States, African
Studies scholars who wanted to examine the
effect of the African diaspora began taking a
greater interest in such religions.
For the next 16 years, Olupona lived as a
professional nomad, serving as visiting professor
or senior fellow at Smith College in Amherst,
Massachusetts; Harvard University; Muhlenberg
College in Allentown, Pennsylvania; and
Florida International University in Miami. But
he primarily taught at UC Davis.
Anthonia Kalu, professor and chair of the
Department of African American and African Harvard. Just four months after arriving there,
Studies at Ohio State University, met Olupona he became chair of the Harvard University
through the African Studies Association, where Committee on African Studies. He is working
both are members. As a fellow Nigerian in to turn the committee into a world-class center
academia, she is well aware that Olupona has for African Studies.
faced many battles on his road to success,
including heavy workloads. Maintaining that this A Towering Figure in His Field
problem plagues foreign professors, Kalu recalls His peers consider him a towering figure
that at UC Davis, Olupona had to venture far in his field. “I think of him as the quintessential
outside his area of expertise—religion. To teach scholar in African Studies,” says Kalu, who cites
the introductory course on Africa, she says, he his hard work and his passion for his subjects.
needed “a broad knowledge of the continent (54 This passion becomes evident whenever
sovereign nations) and in several disciplines— Olupona brings up “reverse missionaries,” a term
geography, history, health (including HIV- he coined and a topic he explored in African
AIDS), arts, architecture, religion, and so on.” Immigrant Religions in America. Whereas the
Teaching such a wide range of subjects required West once evangelized Africa, Olupona now
extensive research and preparation. He also sees ample evidence that Africans have made
had to squeeze this plethora of material into a great inroads with their own stated goals of
relatively short time frame, given the semester evangelizing the Western hemisphere. In the
system. Kalu muses that competently teaching United States, he says, “African churches are
such classes brings foreign professors near the everywhere. There are African mosques. African
“breaking point.”
indigenous religion is spreading.” He notes that
Moreover, she notes, “When one is as the United States now has shrines and temples
determined to do well as Olupona has been related to African indigenous religions. “Yoruba
over the years, speaking up usually means religion is a big thing in America today.” He says
more committee work” and more of pretty that in all major cities, including New York,
much everything. For years, Olupona served Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and
as the first president of the African Association Boston, as well as in some small towns, “African
for the Study of Religions. And that added spirituality is vividly present.”
significantly to his workload, she says, as he He takes special interest in Oyotunji Village,
guided the fledgling organization to success a utopian Yoruba community that sprouted up
and recognition, enabling members to publish, near Charleston, South Carolina. This is perhaps
get tenure, and obtain promotions. Olupona the best example of a phenomenon in which
has served on the editorial boards of three African-Americans, Latinos, and Caucasians
influential journals, which has meant yet more have joined together to build a community
that’s reflective of the African past. He says that
In 2006, Harvard hired Olupona to joint such communities also exist in Los Angeles and
positions as professor of African and African- elsewhere.
American Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Colleagues admire that he has drawn
Sciences and professor of religion at the Divinity ample attention to religious practices that the
world has long overlooked. Adela de la Torre
Kalu views this Harvard triumph as far too is professor of Chicana/o Studies and director
long in coming. “Everyone is
of the Center for Public, Policy,
making it sound as if they had
Race, Ethnicity and Gender at UC
always known that he would
Davis. Having known Olupona
end up at Harvard,” she says.
for six years, she comments, “His
Instead, she can’t help seeing
impact on his field is legendary,
it as delayed recognition:
as he is one of the first scholars
“The appointment to Harvard
to have brought indigenous and
is a bit late, not because of
traditional religions on an equal
time but because of his vast
footing with Western religions,”
contributions to his field–
including Christianity and
Prof. Jacob and Mrs. Dupe
African religions. He has Olupona at her induction as a
Islam. She calls this “an amazing
worked hard in his field, and chief in Nigeria.
I just happen to think that the
that it’s difficult to elevate any
recognition could have come
indigenous culture, given three
in earlier.”
things: “the fact that their numbers are relatively
Despite the delays (or perhaps because of
them), Olupona quickly established himself at
Continued on page 20
Summer 2008
low, the remoteness of these communities, and
the inherent bias the West has against non-white
De la Torre says she also marvels at the
“rare facility” with which Olupona “reaches
across disciplinary boundaries, extracting the
type of pertinent information that’s relevant
for the issue at hand. His research issues are
always leap years ahead of his peers,” because
he understands how behavioral-cultural,
spiritual, and psychological factors intersect
with a given problem. Noting his capacity to
have both an insider and outsider approach to
issues, she comments, “Few scholars have this
capacity, few can cross disciplinary backgrounds
to bridge these debates, and few can tie these
issues together intellectually so that those of us
from other disciplines can benefit from this type
of work. Jacob can!”
Another colleague of Olupona’s concurs
that his interdisciplinary talents have wideranging benefits. Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome
is professor of political science at Brooklyn
College, which is part of the City University
of New York. A Nigerian immigrant who met
Olupona at annual meetings of the African
Studies Association, Okome considers Olupona
a friend and mentor. She comments that his
work has shown the intersections between
religion and other forms of identity, including
ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, age, and
sexuality. "I have learned from his analysis of the
interplay between gender, religion, and power,"
says Okome, who teaches African and Women’s
Studies, as well as political science.
Kalu cites many of the same qualities and
habits. She comments that Olupona “knows
how to reach for the best in every situation
and in everyone he meets.” And she says he
“always knows the next question to ask about
my research and professional life.”
His helpfulness extends beyond colleagues
in the United States. By all accounts, he has
tried to ameliorate Nigeria’s “brain drain” by
helping many young Nigerian scholars obtain
scholarships, fellowships, and teaching positions
in Africa and in other parts of the world. To
mitigate the "book famine" in Nigeria, Olupona
also contributes books to the libraries of religion
departments at some Nigerian universities.
In 1984, David Olugbenga Ogungbile was
an undergraduate at what is now called Obafemi
Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, and he took
classes from Olupona. Ogungbile recalls, “He
encouraged most of the undergraduate students
that he taught to pursue graduate studies. There
were times when he gave them his own money
to obtain graduate admission forms, even when
those students did not think along those lines.”
Ogungbile speaks of Olupona in the most
glowing terms possible, even as “an angel
in human form.” After Olupona’s passionate
teaching caught Ogungbile’s attention, the
young man patterned himself after Olupona.
Ogungbile explains, “I was attracted not only
to his passionate teaching of courses in the
Department of Religious Studies but also to his
humane character. I appreciated his ways of life,
and I started to understudy him. I read most
of his published works, took most courses that
An Academic Warrior for Social
he offered, and followed him to fieldwork. I
learned the art of fieldwork research from him!”
Masterful at making connections between Ogungbile decided to do postgraduate studies
ideas and fields of study,
in Ile-Ife, concentrating his
Olupona also apparently
research in comparative
excels at making connections
studies of religion, which
was also Olupona’s area of
and former students across
the board mention how
served as supervisor for the
much he has supported
young man’s master’s thesis.
their professional endeavors,
Now Ogungbile is senior
particularly by reading inlecturer in comparative
progress manuscripts, serving
religion and African religions
as a mentor, writing letters of
recommendation, and doing
University, as well as a fellow
tenure reviews. Okome notes,
at Harvard in the W.E.B. Du
"He has inspired me to work
Bois Institute for African and
harder and to seek more Prof Olupona receiving blessing
African American Research.
and better opportunities to ritual from Ifa Priest, Prof.
Ogungbile says of his mentor,
Abimbola during resent Ifa
showcase my work. He has conference at Harvard.
“He has a great passion as a
always been accessible in a
citizen of the universe who
very altruistic manner. This is very rare among believes that development is a possibility for
scholars, and is one of Professor Olupona’s best everywhere and everybody.”
Summer 2008
Jacob Olupona
conversing with
Ooni of Ife, His
Royal Majesty
Sijuwade, Olubuse
II during his recent
visit to Harvard.
Olupona particularly strives to help his
colleagues advance when he perceives that
racism has blocked their progress. At such times,
he swiftly and decisively comes to their defense.
De la Torre has frequently experienced this side
of Olupona. She recalls, “When I was struggling
at UC Davis with a type of institutional racism
that profoundly affected me, Jacob intuitively
understood the problem at hand and quickly
approached the dean, challenging her ethical
standing on a critical issue.”
De la Torre also cites an episode from the
recent past, when UC Davis selected a new dean:
“Jacob was on the search committee, and one of
the finalists was an African/African-American
male. The committee clearly was not disposed to
considering him as a candidate, and they began
dismissing his experience and scholarly work in
favor of a white woman candidate who was not
as competitive. Jacob immediately challenged
the institutional racism with no uncertain terms
and caused the committee to clearly reflect on
their bias. Unfortunately, the African/AfricanAmerican man was not hired. Nevertheless,
Jacob always—and I mean always—challenges
the dismissive and disrespectful comments
made by colleagues who clearly do not want
to accept their own biases and racism,” says
de la Torre. “He is fearless when he perceives a
gross injustice due to race, class, or gender. He
will call a spade a spade and not back down.
He is perhaps one of the most courageous
faculty members I have ever met in academia
(and I have been an academic tenured in three
institutions for over 20 years).”
When it comes to Olupona, she says, “He is
and will always be the classic academic warrior
for social justice because of his color, heritage,
and his own intellectual understanding of
the depth of discriminatory treatment in the
academy.” De la Torre
adds, “People respect
Jacob, as they know
that his honesty and
ethics are beyond
reproach. They also
know that he will
exercise his influence
in order to make the
world a better place,
despite discomfort by Prof. Jacob Olupona.
those aligned with the
status quo.” H
Showcasing Your Success
An American in a
Korean Marriage
by Trina Helmke
be one queen in a castle!
I found myself living
lived in Korea from the age
with my mother-in-law.
of seven, but that still could
I continued to work. But
not prepare me for a marriage
I resisted waiting on the
to a Korean family. Yes, I said to a
men in the family while
family—not just to my husband!
my mother-in-law dictated
As a young adult teaching
Trina and Youngtai in 1992
the way things should be. I
English to Korean citizens, I used to
had major issues with the
hear my co-workers complain not
only about their husbands but also about their fact that others expected me to serve the men.
in-laws. Now, I can understand not getting On weekends and holidays, the men relaxed
along with in-laws. We Americans often don’t while the women slaved in the kitchen, cooking
get along with our own families. But as I listened for holiday rituals, sometimes for three days.
I was supposed to tidy up after everyone
to my co-workers, I would hear about how they
didn’t feel at home in their own houses and how and iron their clothes. I also accompanied my
they despised the way their husbands acted mother-in-law to a marketplace hours away
in front of their parents. I gave them simple (taking crowded city buses so the men wouldn’t
advice: “Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. have to drive us), carrying back bags of food.
Why let your husband act different in front of Back at home, I would cook this food and serve
his parents? After all, he’s married to you, and it, all while the men sat back in comfort, never
it’s your life.” They said I just didn’t understand. lifting a finger.
My husband did not intervene. He simply
They said it was not possible to do that and that
I was lucky I didn’t have to go through that. said that that’s how things are in a Korean
I dated a Korean man for four years, and family. I didn’t understand. I despised him for
then we married and had a beautiful daughter. allowing it to be like that.
I decided once that I would teach them all
When the oldest son marries, he must live with
a lesson. I refused to
his parents and take care of them
serve my husband and
through their old age. Most wives in
told him to get up and
Korea do not work. It is their place to
do it yourself. This was
maintain the house, raise the children
unheard of, and my
and make their husbands and in-laws
sister-in-law scolded
as comfortable as possible.
me. She said I was
My husband had an elder brother,
married to a Korean
but since he lived two hours away, the
and should therefore
“burden” came to rest on my husband.
do as Koreans do.
Me not work? That was unthinkable.
I spent four years
Certainly I could work and raise
trying to live that life,
my own family. The idea of living
fighting it all along. I
with my mother-in-law struck me as
Family picture in 1995
would get so depressed
ridiculous. After all, there can only
Trina Helmke
that I fantasized about
daughter. One day,
when my husband
came home, I said,
Trina and her Daughter
“With or without you,
I’m taking our daughter and moving to the U.S.
You have until October 16 to decide.” This gave
him almost a year. At first he thought I was just
releasing anger and figured it would pass. As
months went by and my story didn’t change,
he realized that we were going to leave. He
decided to let go of the only life he knew and
to move with me. On October 16, we flew to
the United States. We lived with my family at
first and looked at buying a house. My husband
started dental school.
Then he had a tragic accident and passed
away. He was cremated, and his mother asked if
I wanted to keep his remains in the United States.
I chose to send him home, where he belonged.
Over the years, I have learned many
valuable lessons from my experience in Korea.
I now feel that having the ability to take care of
your parents is a blessing, not a burden. I have
realized that as I served the men, they were
spending time with their mother, who had
raised them alone after their father had died. I
learned that it was not her intent to make my
life miserable but her opportunity to spend
time with her grandchildren.
Today my former mother-in-law and I still
keep in touch. If I could do it over, I would
treasure the recipes she taught me. I would be
honored to wait on her and serve her.
But as we all know, you cannot change the
past. You can only try to improve the future. I
want my daughter to be as culturally diverse
as possible. I want her to learn not to judge
customs but to try and see the good behind
them. H
Continued on page 22
Summer 2008
An Obligation to My Ancestors
by Adewunmi Hassan
am a police officer in the San Jose Police Department. My mother
did not want me to become a police officer because of its inherent
dangers. When she tearfully asked me why I joined the police, I
thought back to my first trip to Nigeria.
I was 16, and my father was taking my sister and me on a tour of
our ancestry. My father was born in Nigeria but spent most of his young
adult life in England.
We traveled from the United States to England, where I felt
overwhelmed by its overall greyness. The
stones, the buildings, the sky and even the
people seemed to move as one big, grey
cog. It all made me a little sad. It was the
first time I had experienced snow in my life.
I wore two sweaters and a long overcoat
and had another sweater tucked under my
As we flew to Nigeria, my father kept
Officer Hassan on duty
telling me that I didn’t need the sweaters
anymore. When I stepped off of the plane
in Lagos, the heat overwhelmed me. I felt like I was inhaling wasabi. The
humidity was so thick that I quickly learned to keep my tongue away
from the roof of my mouth, as nothing was there but the aftertaste of
dampness. By the time I exited the airport, I was carrying more clothes
than I was wearing.
What I saw was the opposite of England
and most of America. The people moved
like the ocean: slowly, calmly, but with Officer Adewunmi Hassan
tremendous purpose. The colors were vivid
and the landscape was natural.
We rented a Mercedes and had a driver take us around Lagos. Police
officers carrying automatic rifles would randomly stop us, asking to see
our papers. My father would reluctantly reach into his wallet and supply
the right papers so we could pass through the checkpoint. As I observed
the corruption of the police officers, I realized just how fragile integrity
could be, particularly when coupled with authority,
As I said, my father was born in Nigeria, as was his father and so on.
I am beset with emotion as I contemplate the struggles they endured—
struggles that resulted in my successes.
I studied Mandarin from the age of 12. I played basketball,
football and tennis throughout high school. I traveled overseas and
studied psychology and organizational
communication at the University of
So when my mom asked me why I
had to be a police officer, I told her that
I felt obligated to my ancestors to be
honorable and great. I first realized that
on my trip to Nigeria. H
Patriotic Officer Hassan
Parent Inspirations Led to
Once-in-a-life Time Journey
By Elizabeth Ekpo
Elizabeth Ekpo During her
recent Graduation
y name is Elizabeth Ekpo and I am
a graduate of Oklahoma Christian
University in Oklahoma City.
My parents’ stories about perseverance and
having faith in God persuaded me to want
to follow a career that would allow me to go
back to Nigeria and help the family.
After being accepted to Oklahoma
Christian University, I decided to major in
biology and purse a career in medicine. I
Summer 2008
had many opportunities to experience life
in the medical field by volunteering at an
inner city clinic in downtown Oklahoma city,
and volunteering at the veterans hospital at
home in California. One of the most exciting
experiences of my college life was my trip
to Australia. The program through which
I had the opportunity to travel was called
the International Scholar Laureate Program
(ISLP): Delegation on Medicine. I, along
with 70 other students, traveled to Sydney,
Melbourne and Cairns exploring various
medical features of Australia: universal
healthcare, Aboriginal traditional medicine,
medical universities and research facilities,
etc. This trip further solidified my decision
to enter the medical field. I really enjoyed
taking this once-in-a-life time journey, and I
would not have traded it for anything!
Now, I am preparing to attend medical
school at the University of Oklahoma Health
Sciences Center. I have looked forward to
this moment for most of my life! I thank
God everyday for giving me the wonderful
opportunity to become a physician. I know
He will give me the strength to accomplish
my dreams. Truth be told, the old African
proverb that “it takes a village to raise a
child” has also been an important part of
my life. The Nigerian community has been
a great source of inspiration to me. I would
like to express my deepest appreciation for
my wonderful family for their immeasurable
support. God bless you all! H
A Tree In A River: My Determination
and Desire to Succeed
By Tometi Gbedema
rowing up in a very small
village in Ghana and later in
a little town in Togo, tossed
from one relative to another, many of
whom he could not even describe the
relationship that existed between him
and them, Tometi however capitalized
on his African extended family culture
to realize positively change his life. He
materialized his difficult childhood life
experience into great achievements by
getting higher education. Tometi’s life is full of dramas but he held on his
beliefs and trust to overcome the unrealizable. In fact, this son of Africa
never gives up and as frequently admits, he draws his strength from his
name Tometi. Encouraged by this name which, in his African mother
tongue, literally means ‘a tree in a river’, he explains that any tree in the
river never complains about being cold especially whenever it is raining
because it has always been in the river and it just needs to cope with
the conditions or find a way to cope with it. Tometi was only four years
old when his father died. However with his determination and desire
to succeed, his humility and patience, hardwork and efforts to realize
something good in life, his enthusiasm and passion for studying and
learning, his love and passion for soccer coaching and playing coupled
with the respect he gives to whatever he does, and whoever meets, lives
or works with, Tometi transformed painful struggles into positive results.
He is proud to have come from an African family where a child belongs
not only to the father and mother but to the whole community. He is
also thankful to his Creator for being on his side always and giving him
the chance to very often meet people kind to him in his life. Tometi
acknowledges by facts that he would not have attained the present heights
in his life if he had not met all the good Samaritans, generous people
and individuals and relatives from whom he received great assistance,
support, love and guidance to be come who he is today. He is indebted
to all, he always says.
The kindness and support of these people enabled Tometi to
successfully go through his primary, middle, high school and college
education despite the difficulties. In fact, life was not easy for Tometi
he got to the United States and entered the University of California,
Davis (UC Davis) in 2003. Nevertheless his hardwork and selflessness
together with his demonstrable commitment to the welfare of other
people and the gift of his services to others got him good friends who
have stood by his side whenever he calls on them. It is his desire to take
the opportunity to say an endless thank you to Judy Erwin, currently the
Graduate Advisor at the Department of Toxicology at UC Davis, Prof.
Ted Bradshaw (deceased) of the Department of Human and Community
Development and Dean Dennis Pendleton of UC Davis Extension.
Indeed, after his BA in English and MA in Translation in 1997 at
Université du Benin in Lomé, Togo, West Africa, Tometi worked as
Assistant Manager (AM) at EGK Bruce Translation and Interpreting
Cabinet where he underwent professional training in Translation before
being employed at the AM position that endeared him a good reputation
on the job. He also worked as a Mathematics and English teacher at
Lycée de Baguida, a high school in Lomé, Togo, before moving to the US.
Tometi tremendously shows his qualities and capabilities in whatever he
does. His interests are not only in local/natural resource development,
community needs/building and, poverty alleviation in the developing
world but also in heritage tourism development. Currently, Tometi is
pursuing a PhD in Geography at UC Davis. His specialties are in heritage
tourism, African American and African Studies. He is also the President
of Otwetiri Project, a non-profit organization that he just launched in the
city of Davis to assist his village school and community in Ghana where
he began a soccer tournament dubbed Davis California Challenge Cup
last year to encourage the poor kids from his village to attain education
and better their family life in future. He believes that he cannot do all
what he is presently doing if he had not got educated to this level. This
is one reason why he has initiated the project.
Tometi adores working with children of diverse backgrounds,
collaborating with partners/neighbors, and sharing ideas to better
communities, humanity and the life of people. He is the only one in
his family who has studied up to this level. And he remains not only a
man of the people but also a leader, motivator, and an icon who many
relatives and children look up to. Tometi has two (2) maters degrees
in Translation and Community Development. His first MA thesis is
entitled “Professor Sandbrook’s ‘The Politics Basic Needs, Urban Aspects
of Assaulting Poverty in Africa: Translation and Personal Comments.
The second MS thesis entitled: ‘Natural gas discovery and production
impacts on Rio Vista and its community’. His PhD dissertation is themed
‘Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Role of Heritage Tourism
in Local Communities’.
Tometi has been a Teaching Assistant in the Department of African
American and African Studies at UC Davis since 2003. He has worked
with several instructors among who are Dr. Milmon Harrison, Dr.
Moradewum Adejunmobi and Professor Jacob Kehinde Olupona, now at
Harvard. He holds a USSF National “C” Soccer Coaches License. He is a
great community server, a sportsman, an enthusiast of soccer from which
he admits to have been getting the energy and passion he shows in his
works. He was also honored in 2005 for his community services on the
UC Davis Campus. H
Summer 2008
The Challenge of True Integration
Finding Happiness
in Your Marriage
By Newton Ekpo
urrently, there are no known empirical
studies that have highlighted the
various facets of psychosocial
challenges and threats confronting the
African-Immigrant families in Diaspora. The
goal of such studies would be to provide
education, awareness, information,
and skills necessary to sustain Africanimmigrant families regarding how to
deal with life challenges in Diaspora.
These include issues such as marital
related matters, family violence, lack
of family support, child rearing, child
discipline, nurturing the marriage,
dealing with in-laws, “inter-racial,
inter-cultural mixed marriages, drug,
alcohol, mental, and health-related
issues, child abuse, and divorce, just to
mention a few. Such a research study
should delineate that “Immigrant
African Families” in Diaspora are
not totally immune to some of these
phenomena that have polluted the
society. The impact of this type of study can
not be underestimated. Hence a study of this
magnitude would serve as a light house in
building the African-Immigrant family and
Community at large. Be aware that marriage
life is not as difficult as it is portrayed
Let me start by saying that immigrantAfrican and Christian families are not
immune to the socio-cultural pressures of the
American society, especially the challenges
facing the marriage institution. Unfortunately,
because of the notable pressures in the areas
of career, finances and the deference to
extended family members back home, many
immigrant spouses find it difficult to nurture
their marriages God’s way. As a result of this,
very many marriages are devoid of the benefits
and pleasures associated with a happy home.
Hence, the preponderance of divorces and
family dislocations that dot the American
Summer 2008
society, including immigrant Christian
homes. In the light of this, I want to
present in this write-up, practical Tips
for nurturing your Marriage God’s
Way. Hopefully, this will help married
Mr. & Mrs. Newton Ekpo
couples who are facing challenges to identify
the missing link in their relationships and
empower them to nurture their marriage in
God’s way.
• Marriage is God’s creation, a living
symbol of Christ and His Church, and the
best environment for raising Godly children.
• Shared commitment and mutual
love are essential to a successful
• The key to taking control in
times of joy and difficulty is open
communication between couples.
• Marriage is good and
honorable, but unfaithfulness breaks
the bond of trust – the foundation
for any enduring relationship.
• God hates divorce! He never
provided for it in the original plan
for the home.
• Similarly, God forbids
loneliness, which is one of the bitter
repercussions of divorce. He said in
Genesis 2:18 that “It is not good (sufficient,
satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I
will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted,
complementary) for him”, (Amplified Bible).
Couples should see themselves as suited,
adapted and complimentary to each other.
• Men and women are co-heirs to the
kingdom of God.
The husband in return is to honor and
love his wife and the wife is to submit to him
as the head of the house. The Bible likens the
headship of the husband over the wife to the
Headship of Jesus over His church, Ephesians
In conclusion, I would like to admonish
that, husbands and wives, you should not
try not to rely on your own knowledge and
understanding, but seek God’s wisdom; for it
is given freely to those who ASK. Additionally,
I would like to take
this opportunity to
encourage all single
parents, singles and
married couples in
Diaspora to be solid in
the Word of God. By so
doing your vertical and
horizontal relationship
as the rock. God
bless you and your
family. H
Summer 2008
Business & Money
The Best to Become Successful
Social Networking: Nurturing
Love for the Motherland
By Foluke Balogun
Social media has come to mean a lot to young people with roots in Africa, who reside
in the U.S. For this group of people, social media has become more than a tool for
just making friends, getting entertained, or keeping up with the latest information. It
helps provide the much needed connection to their continent. Foluke Balogun reports:
frica may have its fair share of turmoil but it also bears sweet
memories for some young Africans living in the U.S. Ama Serwaa,
a Nursing major, was a little girl when she came to the U.S. She
misses her early childhood days in Ghana but is grateful for online tools
that make it easier for her to connect with the culture and people in her
home country. “I really miss the people and the free environment”, she
says. “Facebook, YouTube, hi5 and all the others have definitely made it
easier to communicate and meet more African people, as well as getting
connected to my roots”. She keeps tab on local news in her home country
by visiting Web sites that not only publish news stories, but also have local
music embedded as well.
Serwaa feels everyone should stay connected to their roots no matter
where they find themselves. “I think it is important to stay connected
because you can’t change where you are from nor can you change your
history; so you might as well get familiar with it and also love it”, she says.
“I mean, I am African and I will be that way. Though I have grown up in the
United States, dress, eat and even talk like an American, I can never erase
Summer 2008
my family history. My history makes me who I am”.
Like Serwaa, Sheila Enyonam, an interior design major, is grateful that
she can connect with people back home through social media. Enyonam
is also from Ghana and she has been in the U.S. for eight years. “I stay
connected with the current issues (in Ghana) because though my body is
here, my heart is in Africa”, Enyonam says. “I don’t know what it is but there
is a need to know what is going on”. Enyonam is on the Facebook social
network site. She joins groups on Facebook that have some connection
with Africa and which help identify her as an African. According to her,
it is a fun way to stay in touch and learn new things. “It is incredible how
these sites have not only helped me find my friends but keep in touch with
them. Oh and it’s always great to keep up with the latest entertainment
through YouTube”, she says.
“Believe it or not, Africans are very much in touch with the internet
these days and there’s nothing we know about that they don’t. Because they
have access to these sites and make use of it, the gap between Africans at
home and abroad has been bridged. It’s just awesome.”
Business & Money
Social media such as Facebook, MySpace,
YouTube and blogs have become preferred tools
for communicating, among young people. The
fact that they are cheaper, more convenient and
easy to use makes it possible for more young
people to connect with people hundreds of
thousands of miles away.
Stella Sule was born in the U.S. and has only
spent about two years in Nigeria- her parents home
country. This has not detered her love for what
goes on in Nigeria. Sule studies communication
at Kent State University and her minor is in
Pan-African Studies and recently completed her
term as secretary of Kent State’s African Students
Association, KASA. She admits that social media
has “made it a lot easier to stay connected with
the change that is going on in Nigeria.” “I do stay
connected with what happens in Nigeria”, she
says. “I listen to Nigerian music through Web
sites like Radio Palmwine, MySpace, or I go on
YouTube to see the latest music videos and I buy
CDs and movies. I go to Nigerian Web sites like to read up on Nigerian news
when I can, or watch the latest movies, and
when I get the chance to watch NTA (Nigerian
Television Authority), I do. I have recently joined
a new social network called
and I am a member of different Nigerian and
African groups on Facebook. I’ve even created a
group on facebook called ‘Fine Nigerian Men’just for fun.”
Chibuike Muoh, a Nigerian student in the
U.S.also appreciates social media which he says
allows him keep up with “the social dynamics
and culture back home.” “If one thinks of ever
going back home or visiting, it will be much
easier since you would have an idea of what life
is like there”, Muoh says.
Sule also feels the same way. She hopes
to go back soon, at least for a visit. “ It is very
expensive to travel to Africa and I just can’t pack
and go like I wish”, she says.
Social media has surely proved to be a handy
tool for young people like Serwaa, Enyonam,
Muoh and Sule, who desire to keep up with issues
in their home countries while living in the U.S.
Communities are being created online to support
social causes in Africa, and young people can
now air their views on political issues without
fear of being harassed by the not-so-democratic
governments that are features of the continent.
With social media, the willingness to participate
and stay involved is all that is required.
Social media is playing a major role in how
young Africans get involved with issues going on
in their countries. Distance or physical presence
don’t seem to matter any more.
The recent violence that trailed the Kenyan
elections for example, got young people talking
through social networking sites and blogs. The
political situation in Zimbabwe is also yielding
discussions on social networking sites, not only
among young Africans in diaspora, but also
among people from different parts of the world
. A search of Zimbabwe elections on Facebook
gives a result of over 80 groups, with many of
them demanding change in the Southern African
country. One of such groups- ‘International Day of
Prayer for Zimbabwe’, has over 1,500 members.
Young Nigerians all over the world were also
able to form themselves into a Facebook group
to demand better treatment of Nigerian travellers
by the British Airways. The group, “All Nigerians
Should Boycott British Airways for Life”- asking
all Nigerians to boycott the British Airways (BA)
for maltreating a fellow citizen. The group has
a membership of over 3,000 people, and has
been successful in raising awareness about the
BA issue. Members are demanding an apology
from the airline. Social media is helping to draw
attention to the situation in Africa, showcasing
both the good and the bad, and getting ordinary
people around the world involved in sociopolitical issues beseiging the continent without
habing to wait for world leaders or governments
to act.
As a young Ghanaian, Serwaa feels she has
to play a role in helping society. She created an
online group to help orphans in Ghana, many of
whom she says have been orphaned as a result
of the AIDS epidemic in Ghana. “As a group,
we can all contribute something beautiful”, she
says. The Facebook group - ‘Help Save Orphans
in Ghana’, already has 100 members. Other
Facebook groups and causes mobilize people to
fight hunger and disease on the continent and
some also promote the positive aspects of Africa
as a continent, and its 53 countries. Bottomline
is that young people are beginning to realize that
the problems beseiging the continent cannot be
put to rest if they do not stand up for change.
They realize that being in the U.S. or any other
place in the world, does not shield them from
their responsibilities in making a difference in
their homelands.
The U.S. is on the verge of electing a new
president that will lead the nation for four
years. The campaign building up to the election
has witnessed an increase in the use of social
media as communication tools in trying to sway
Americans to vote for candidates. Since the last
presidential election in 2004, there has been
an increase in the number of Americans using
social media, which has also given rise to its
use as a channel for connecting with potential
supporters and voters. Candidates realizing the
impact of social media have carried their political
messages online in a bid to reach an audience
of young people who rely greatly on the Web
for information. Just as presidential candidates
in the 2008 U.S. elections garner support from
young people via Facebook and other social
media, Africa is on the brink of witnessing
change as a result of this generation of young
people who know their rights, and want to
exercise them, who see injustice and won’t keep
shut, who have witnessed from other countries
that with committed and dedicated leadership,
things can change for the better. This generation
of young Africans have the opportunity many of
their parents did not have; the opportunity to
mobilize themselves and others to either support
or oppose causes that affect people in their
respective homelands. This they can accomplish
in the comfort of their homes. With social media,
connecting with the continent is just a click
away. H
Summer 2008
Knowledge Empowers
Rethinking Our School Systems:
An Educator’s Perspective
By Femi Ajimatanrareje
t is time to rethink how we are educating
young people. Our complex school systems
were designed nearly a century ago, and they
no longer serve students adequately. As pedagogy
has evolved, new ideas have emerged about our
educational system, and some work far better
than others.
percent of those students graduate and go on to
Although school size itself is not a panacea,
good small schools succeed because they combine
high expectations with more personalized
learning environments.
The Benefits of Small High Schools
The Importance of Parental Choice
in Education
Today's large high schools fail to meet the
needs of too many students. High school dropout
rates hover at 25 percent nationwide, and the
rate is closer to 50 percent for low-income and
minority students. Although the barriers to
change are great, the need for reform is critical.
School districts throughout Northern
California now find themselves on the cutting
edge of an educational reform movement that
holds great promise. From Sacramento to San
Francisco to Oakland, there is a groundswell
of activity to challenge the status quo and to
deconstruct outdated high school systems.
These communities are committed to creating
personalized learning environments where all
students achieve. The changes are predicated on
one central idea: breaking up large high schools
into smaller ones.
Research shows that students attending
small schools have higher attendance rates, are
more motivated and feel safer. These students
feel more connected to those around them and
can stand out as individuals, rather than feeling
lost in the crowd. Students at small schools
graduate and go on to college in higher numbers.
Low-income students particularly thrive in small
Teachers and staff at small schools can create
nurturing environments where few students fall
through the cracks. As a large school, the Julia
Richman High School in Manhattan once had a
graduation rate hovering around 30 percent. The
school building now houses six small schools,
four of which are high schools. More than 90
Parental choice in education is a rising tide
that lifts all boats. Parents can generally make the
best decisions for their children. That includes
choosing the educational setting that will best
serve their children’s needs. No one else knows
the best thing for another person’s children or has
their interests at heart.
In 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld
the inalienable right of parental control over
education. The 1925 case Pierce v. Society of
Sisters states, “The fundamental . . . liberty
upon which all governments in this Union
repose excludes any general power of the State
to standardize its children. . . . The child is not
the mere creature of the State; those who nurture
him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled
with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him
for additional obligations.”
Some people believe that because certain
parents might make poor choices about their
children’s education, we should deny most
parents the right to make that choice. Thomas
Jefferson answered that concern thus: “It is better
to tolerate the rare instance of a parent refusing
to let his child be educated than to shock the
common feelings by forcible . . . education of the
infant against the will of the father.”
True freedom does include the risk of failure,
but as dismal test scores and low academic
performance show us, public schools cannot
guarantee success for all students.
Parents now have an increasing number of
choices about where to educate their children,
thanks to the existence of charter schools,
Summer 2008
education vouchers and home schooling, as
well as the availability of private schools, both
religious and secular, and of course the free
public school system. Fifteen states guarantee
public school choice within or between districts.
(Other states have choice programs that are
optional for districts, target only specific
populations or require that parents pay tuition.)
In all 50 states, home schooling is legal. As many
as two million students are home-schooled
nationwide. Furthermore, 40 states and the
District of Columbia have enacted charter
school laws. And six states—Florida, Maine,
Ohio, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin—and the
District of Columbia now have state or districtfunded scholarship programs for elementary and
secondary students. Another six states also offer
tax credits or deductions for education expenses
or contributions to scholarship programs.
In the past five years, Children First Utah, an
independent scholarship fund, has poured more
than $1.3 million into private schools to help
educate Utah’s low-income children, the very
group who tends to perform poorly in public
schools. The Parent Choice in Education Act
expands scholarship help to all Utah families on
a sliding scale, based on income relative to family
size. When a student moves from a public school
to a private school, about $1,600 stays in the
public school account, becoming part of the pool
of funds to be spent on the remaining students.
Thus, public schools receive the increased perpupil expenditure they’ve wanted all along.
More parents are exercising choice today
than in years past. The percentage of parents who
sent their children to an assigned public school
declined from 80 percent in 1993 to 76 percent
in 1999. In a 2006 national survey of parents,
the U.S. Department of Education’s National
Household Education Survey Program found that
having a choice about schools increases parental
The Perils of School Vouchers
Although parental choice in education
is paramount, the same cannot be said of
In the 1950s, economist Milton Friedman
first proposed education vouchers as a solution
to the woes of the public education system. He
argued that vouchers would promote competition
and thereby improve schools.
An education voucher, commonly called
a school voucher, is a government-issued
certificate enabling parents in districts with
underperforming schools (i.e., those with many
students who have scored poorly on standardized
tests) to pay tuition at a school of their choice.
Rather than keeping their children in a public
school that did not provide the quality of
education they desired, the parents could use
the voucher at other public schools or at private
So far, voucher programs have persisted in
only about half a dozen states and districts. Most
vouchers are offered to students in low-income
families, low-performing schools or specialeducation programs. Milwaukee led the way in
1990 and now has nearly 15,000 students using
vouchers. A program started in Cleveland in
1995 was challenged all the way up to the U.S.
Supreme Court, which ruled in 2002 that the
program did not violate the establishment of
religion clause in the Constitution. The annual
Brigham Young University Utah Voter Poll of
2008 indicates that 56 percent of registered Utah
voters somewhat favor a voucher system.
The Republican Party has advocated the
use of school vouchers, arguing that the public
education system has largely failed, particularly
in inner cities. The Reagan administration
pushed for vouchers, as did the current Bush
administration when proposing education
reform during the 2000 presidential campaign.
Those proposals paved the way for the No Child
Left Behind Act of 2001.
A recent publication by the U.S. Department
of Education admits that the average cost of
public education per pupil is slightly more than
double the cost per pupil in private education,
even though public schools have larger class
sizes. Thus, there has been no economy of scale.
Friedman has argued that this is because
public schools have no accountability to the
market and therefore no accountability to
parents or students. This lack of accountability,
he believes, contributes not only to an inefficient
use of resources and taxpayer dollars but also to
a poor education that does not fulfill the needs of
students and parents.
Schools that lose students also lose money,
and schools that gain students gain money.
With the voucher system, then, schools would
develop a strong incentive to become efficient
and accountable.
Friedman does not deny that some schools
would be hurt or would close as a result of
vouchers, but he argues that we must eliminate
dead weight from the school system in order
to bring efficiency and accountability back to
education. Friedman and voucher proponents
believe that market accountability would create
positive results that even the worst public schools
could emulate.
Meanwhile, opponents believe that
vouchers would sap money from public schools,
potentially destroying them. These opponents
note that vouchers are expensive and wonder
where the money will come from to fund such
Furthermore, critics argue that the use
of tax-supported vouchers to support private
schools amounts to a government subsidy for
those schools. Unlike with public schools, the
state has far less control over the curriculum,
operation and employment policies of private
schools. Critics of the voucher scheme therefore
argue that it would violate the principle of “no
taxation without representation”; unlike a public
school board, the trustees of private schools are
not elected by the populace. Private schools
will never be as accountable as public schools,
opponents say.
In addition, some critics argue that school
vouchers would violate the separation of church
and state. For instance, vouchers would help
fund schools with religious curricula.
The American Association of School
Administrators published “Stand Up for Public
Education: Toolkit of Jan. 3, 2007,” an article
emphasizing that “studies from the U.S. General
Accounting Office, Rand Corporation and many
more research institutions continue to find that
school vouchers have little or no impact on
achievement.” The few studies showing positive
results for school voucher program participants
have been heavily questioned and remain
unconvincing. Even studies supporting vouchers
cite evidence that private
school students do no better
than their public school
peers on standardized tests
when student characteristics
are taken into account.
In this day and age,
educators should not test
unproven ideas on children.
We need to focus on what
Public education is at
the heart of our democracy,
and vouchers are undemocratic.
Furthermore, school vouchers siphon
attention and resources away from public
schools and from the 90 percent of children
who attend public schools. School employees
are already short-staffed and are inundated with
documenting, processing and keeping track of
student records. Vouchers take more time and
funds away from these employees.
Vouchers often pay for children who are
already in private schools. Parents of those
children apply for the vouchers through
neighborhood public schools. Private schools
only serve 10 percent of the nation’s children and
could never serve all children.
Arguably, school vouchers don’t empower
parents; they empower private schools, which
still have the ability to reject students. Public
schools, on the other hand, proudly serve every
child who comes through their doors.
Concluding Thoughts
Parents of all income levels should have
the opportunity to choose the best educational
options available to them, whether that means
selecting public, private, religious, or home
schools. Students should be free to attend a safe
and effective school, rather than being assigned
to a chronically underperforming one. Parents
should also be able to decide if they want to
use a school voucher, after assessing their
priorities, circumstances and perspectives on the
controversial issues associated with vouchers.
The current monopoly system, in which
government is both the primary funder and
provider of education, has not served all students
well. A system based on competition, freedom,
flexibility and accountability to parents will
produce a higher level of excellence and better
equip the next generation of Americans.
Femi Ajimatanrareje is an educator at
Duval High School in Maryland and a doctoral
candidate at Northcentral University in Prescott,
Arizona. H
Summer 2008
Event Galore
Ameridreams Remembers
Bishop Humphrey Osagiede:
“The Passing of a Great Prayer Warrior”
Bishop Osagiede
ishop Humphrey Osagiede, 61, died Sunday, June 29 in Stockton.
He was born on May 6, 1947 in Nigeria. He lived in Lathrop for
the past two years and seven years prior to Lathrop his missionary
travels took him from Nigeria to London, New York, New Jersey, San Jose,
and to Antioch.
Mr. Osagiede is survived by his wife of 39 years, Rosaline Osagiede;
children Mercy Nzechukwu, Osarumwense Osaradion, Anna Osagiede,
Joseph Osagiede and Joshua Osagiede all in Nigeria, and James Osagiede
in Lathrop; siblings, Grace Osagiede, Robert Osagiede, Adamosa Osagiede
and Veronica Osagiede; grandchildren, Obioma Nzechukwu, Nnaemeka
Nzechukwu, Ebere Nzechukwu, Nnanna Nzechukwu, Osamagbe
Osarodion, George Bush Nzechukwu and Mr. Osarodion.
Bishop Osagiede started his Missionary from Nigeria about 40 years
ago. He attended St. Joseph Chosen Church of God in Manteca lately. Bishop was a
true Christian and prayer warrior. He was a devoted servant of God and preached
the Word of God all over the world. His missionary travels took him all over the
Africa, Europe, and the United States. He was a dedicated father to his children and
other children throughout the world. Bishop will be profoundly missed by his family,
friends, and extended associates throughout the world.
Funeral service took place on Saturday, July 12, 2008 at Manteca Presbyterian
Church on 275 N. Main Street, Manteca. Bishop has been since taken to his hometown
in Nigeria where he was laid to rest at family’s compound.
Signed by…
Mr. James Osagiede, Mr. and Mrs. Ebere and Mercy Nzechukwu, Mr. Adamosa Osagiede,
Pastor Odum and Abies Ikechiuku, and Pastor Johnson and Charity Ejoma.
Bishop Rest In Peace
Adam and James Osagiede
Adam [Brother] Osagiede family &
James Osagiede
James Osagiede paying his dad last respect
Summer 2008
Ameridreams Remembers Bishop Humphrey Osagiede
Pastor Abugun
James, “The Lord is your
Elder Sam
Sandra Osagiede sister
Pastor Coll
Pastor Johnson & Charity Ejohma
Domino Church Choir
Pastor M. Esoimeme
Summer 2008
Event Galore
Esther & Owen Aiguza
Pastors pay final goodbye to the Bishop
Benin Family with James
Sister Christy Onofe
Deacon Ayoko
Pastor Mato Osiuhwu & Domino Choir
Pastor Odum
Spring 2008
James & Lovet
IFA Conference ­­— Event Galore
The Ooni of Ife Graced the first International
Conference on IfA at Harvard University
n March 2008, was the only magazine granted exclusive coverage
of a conference that Professor Olupona and the Institute of African Studies convened
at Harvard.
Chris Fátóyè Theberge who was also invited to perform and help assemble the
drumming group to accompany the Ooni and his Kings at this historic event, describe
the event as follows: March 14th 2008, Harvard University invited leading academic
scholars from University departments around the world to present papers at a conference
entitled “Sacred Knowledge, Sacred Power and Performance: Ifá Divination in West
Africa and the African Diaspora.” The honored guest was his Royal Majesty the Ooni
of Ife, spiritual leader to the estimated 80 million adherents of Yoruba Ifá and related
traditions in Yorubaland and the Diaspora. The Ooni arrived with 10 Traditional Kings
(Oba) from Nigeria and the Governor of Osun state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola (pop 3.5
million). Though originally conceived as a small academic conference, it mushroomed
into an international assembly under the gracious stewardship of Professor J. Olupona
of Harvard University together with his research assistant Adam McGee.
The following pictures are few from many that could be viewed on our website
His Royal Majesty Alayeluwa Okunade
Sijuwade, Olubuse II
His Royal Majesty and
his entourage listening to
His Royal Majesty and The Governor of Osun
state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola stepping into the
conference hall.
The Governor of Osun state,
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola
The King, His Royal
Majesty Alayeluwa
Okunade Sijuwade,
Olubuse II
His Royal Majesty and the Governor acknowledging a local
Yoruba group representative while prostrating.
Summer 2008
Event Galore
Professor Kehinde Jacob Olupona, the host
and his research assistance Adams MGeec
His Royal Majesty delivering address while his body
guide looks on.
William A. Graham, Harvard Dean of the Faculty of Divinity, gives
welcoming address with professor Olupona in background.
Mrs. Dupe Olupona and His Royal Majesty
Summer 2008
Drum group, led by Oloye Rabiu Ayandokun
Professor Olupona Honors Governor, Prince Oyinlola
before his address.
His Royal Majesty and Governor with their entourage listening
to presentations.
Some the Kings (Obas) having fun during intermission
IFA Conference at Harvard
Professor Olupona appreciating Oloye Rabiu
Professor Abimbola with His Royal Majesty
Professor Olupona appreciating Mrs. Abimbola
Professor Sope Oyelaran
and a colleague
Kings (Obas) having fun during intermission
Dr. Ronke Oyewumi and Dr. Abimbola with a colleague
Group of Professors during
Mr. Shoyombo, His Royal Majesty and Prof.
Summer 2008
Event Galore
Protocol Manager takes direction from His Royal
Greetings from Mrs. Abimbola to His Royal Majesty
HRM Oba James Adedokun
Adegoke, Apetumodu of Ipetumodu
Summer 2008
Aid listened to His Royal Majesty instruction
HRM Oba Abolarin Adedokun
Omoniyi, Orangun of Oke Ila
Group of (Obas) the Royal Majesty at the conference
HRM, Oba (Dr.) Gabriel Adekunle
Aromolaran, Owa Obokun of Ilesa
IFA Conference at Harvard
HRM Oba Adedapo Aderemi, Olojudo of Ido Osun discussing with
HRM Oba Olagunsoye Siyanbola Oladapo,
Alie of Ilie
HRM, Oba Lawal Munirudeen
Adesola, Timi of Ede
HRM Oba Adedapo Aderemi, Olojudo of Ido
Appreciating an Nigerian traditional dancer
HRM Oba Akinropo Sikiru Olaleke,
Agbowu of Ogbaagba
One of the professors appreciating the traditional dancer
Summer 2008
Event Galore
HRM Oba Oyeniyi Abidoye
Ezekiel, Olumoro of Moro
Professor Wande Abimbola – presenting
HRM, Oba Owolola Hezekiah Adeniyi,
Adimula of Ifewara
Dr. David Ogungbile – Moderating
Cross section of presenters during ice-breaking session
Professors Abiodun and Olupona with Oloye Ayandokun (middle) and Chris Fátóyè Theberge
(far right)
Summer 2008
HRM Oba James Adedokun
Adegoke, Apetumodu of Ipetumodu
IFA Conference at Harvard
HRM Oba Adediran Akanbi
Adeyemi, Owamiran of Esa-Oke
His Imperial Majesty Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, Ooni of Ife with conference attendees
L-R Professors Oyelaran, Olupona, Abiodun, Dr. Kolapo Abimbola, and Prof. Akinrinade
-Vice Chancellor of Osun State University
His Imperial Majesty Oba
Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse
II, Ooni of Ife entering his
Prof. Olupona going through
logistice issues with Ms. Aina
Dr. Mei Mei Sanford and a colleague during
His Imperial Majesty Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II, Ooni of Ife
passing through elevator with well-wishers.
Summer 2008

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