This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Sophie Oluwole, 83 years old, born on May 12, 1935, and passed away on December 23, 2018. We will remember her forever.
Posted by Mope Fapohunda on May 12, 2022
Mother dear mother!

Each time I think of you, I am thankful that God gave me you!
We remember you today as always and remain thankful for the gift of you and the impact you made on the lives of all who connected with you even remotely!

Ìyá rere, continue to rest in the bosom of the Lord. I remain eternally grateful for you & miss you still mom. ♥️
Posted by Olufunke Gesinde on May 12, 2022
Happy 87th birthday Mum. Though you're no longer here, we still celebrate the day you were born. Thank God for all you were able to achieve through God who strengthened you. I still met someone yesterday who talked about the way you impacted her life. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made for us your children, and your love for your nephews and nieces. We all remember you always. Continue to rest in peace in Jesus ' name. We love you Mum. ❤
Posted by Mofoluso Agbelese on May 12, 2022
Still missing you…., don’t think the ache will ever go away.
As God will have it, I have the day off and as I reflect on what would have been your 87th birthday today, I cannot help but thank God for your legacy and how you continue to inspire me even though you left over three years ago.
Continue to rest in the bosom of Jesus mom.
Posted by sumbo oladipo on May 12, 2022
Remembering you today again, mum, on your 87th posthumous birthday. Were you to be here still, I'd have driven over to yours and spent the day. Nevertheless, you're remembered, not just on days like this, but all the time, as fond memories of you continue to linger.

Every time I pass Ibafo, my heart skips a beat and I say to myself, "Is this it?" Life! Very short, very ephemeral but we thank God for the life you lived and the memories that you left.

Sleep on beloved, and may your repose be ever sweet.

Always in our hearts!

Posted by Funmi Ope-Babatunde on December 24, 2021
I miss you mum.
Counting the years you've been gone seems strange. I'm grateful for memories of you and will forever love you. ❤️
Posted by Olufunke Gesinde on December 24, 2021
Missing you so much, Mum. Love you endless!
Posted by Mope Fapohunda on December 23, 2021
Mother dear mother!
We remember you fondly and miss you still. Sometimes we shed a tear, sometimes we laugh when we remember what your reaction would have been in certain circumstances 
… we will forever cherish sweet memories. ♥️♥️
Posted by Mofoluso Agbelese on December 23, 2021
Hard to believe it’s been three years! because it’s still hard to fully grasp that you are truly gone.
Still trying to figure out why you had to leave so suddenly.
Posted by Fola Fapohunda on December 31, 2020
Miss you Grandma!❤️
Posted by Mofoluso Agbelese on July 23, 2020
Still missing you mom!
Posted by Mope Fapohunda on May 12, 2020
‘Twas Mothers’ Day on Sunday & today would have been your 85th birthday. Your memories remain evergreen.
We miss you still Mummy. You live forever in our hearts. Continue to rest on.
Love always.
Posted by MABINU OLADIPO on March 23, 2020
Hmmm...Foluso brings me to this page again. Amazing that just today I was looking at your pictures again, as I cleared house.
It's difficult to not remember you and that makes two mothers in my thoughts today. You and my mum, whose birthday is today and of course, both of you remembered on Mothers Day.
Keep resting!
Miss you is an understatement!
Posted by Mofoluso Agbelese on March 22, 2020
Happy Mother’s Day mom,
Still missing you
We would have spoken again today but....
Love you,
Posted by Mope Fapohunda on December 23, 2019
Mother Dear Mother,

I miss you still. You were truly one of God’s choicest blessings to me, “us” and many. Thanks for all you were and remain.
Your memories remain cherished and sweet.

Loving you
Posted by Mofoluso Agbelese on December 23, 2019
Mommy, it’s hard to believe it’s been a year since you left. I think of you so much. I still have to remind myself that you are truly gone. Even though you were 83 and others say you are ‘old’, I still think you left too early... there was so much more to do. But alas, God knows best and we have to trust His timing ...... He has been so faithful.
Continue to rest in your Savior’s’ bosom
Aye mi lukaluka,
Posted by Funmi Ope-Babatunde on December 23, 2019
Hello Mummy. It’s been a long 365 days.
367 days since I last spoke with you.
I miss you still.

Posted by Segilola Ologbenla on October 24, 2019
Dear Grandma,

I miss you so much.

Continue to rest at the feet of Christ.
Posted by Olufunke Gesinde on October 21, 2019
Missing you so much, Mum. Love you endless!
Posted by Mope Fapohunda on May 12, 2019
Today would have been your 84th birthday Mum ... and it beautifully coincides with this year’s Mothers’ Day celebrations!
We miss you specially today, because amongst many other reasons, you sure would have been one recipient of today’s warm birthday and Mothers’ Day greetings. Thanks for the legacies and sweet memories you left us to cherish Mum. They remain precious.
We remember you today as always with much love and affection.
Your Daughter,
Posted by Christine Agbelese on May 1, 2019
It’s difficult knowing you are gone. I still oftentimes do not believe it. You have impacted my life in ways I cannot even begin to say or even necessarily recognize on a day to day basis. Your drive for education and knowledge, for example, is extremely prevalent in myself and all of my siblings. Getting to know more about you through our conversations and through conversations with my mother have been a blessing, and I am honored and humbled to be your granddaughter. I have always looked up to you for being the trailblazer that you were. Following in your footsteps is one of my greatest joys, and one of the things I work towards every day. Your drive and spirit live on, and I will do my very best to ensure I make you proud. You are greatly missed and intensely loved. We will see each other again.
Posted by Lola Ifarajimi on April 27, 2019
Prof, was my Philosophy lecturer in Unilag (1986). I always found her very intriguing in those days. But over the decades, I have come to really understand and fully appreciate all those words of wisdom, they make a lot of sense to me now. Highly intelligent woman. She was way ahead of her time.
Gone home to rest. Rest in peace.
Posted by Bosede Eke-Adepitan on April 27, 2019
Though I never met this iconic legend on this side of eternity, but I found a link and bond in her daughter, Funke Gesinde and grand daughter, Segilola. I draw inspirations from write-ups and memorable speeches of Mama. Rest on because you're not dead. Your works live on after you dear mama. I stand in honour of your good soul. Eternal rest grant her Lord.
Posted by A Kabir on April 25, 2019
I’m like a bird, I only fly away. I don’t know where my soul is. I don’t know where my home is.” Singer Nelly Furtado
The news of the death of Prof Sophie Oluwole on December 23 last year hit me like a thunderbolt. It was totally numbing. Mama had always been vivacious, effervescent – and full of life.
Of course, we have every reason to thank God for her life. She lived to the ripe age of 83 in an environment where life expectancy is put at 47. Her passage therefore was the celebration of a glorious transition to join the pantheons of the sages, after living an impactful life on this terrain.
Professor Sophie was one of the rare, very special people, usually sent to their people for specific missions. She, I believe, played her role excellently and fulfilled her mission, before her departure.
She broke on the scene in a field that had been considered the exclusive preserve of men – philosophy – at a time it would have been considered an excellent choice if she had chosen to study education.
But she excelled in her field, after threading on paths angels dared not, so to speak, and made such significant contribution to the scholarship of African philosophy that she would be remembered for ever. She will also be remembered as one of the scholars that decolonised the study of philosophy in Africa. In her seminal works, she was able to wean philosophy from its Eurocentric foundation. More importantly, she was able to establish that Africa had philosophy before contact with Europeans and it was in the bid to establish intellectual hegemony in Africa that Europeans actually sought to destroy African philosophy which was already thriving by the time they came to Africa.
Prof Oluwole, through her scholarship and cultural nationalism was able to project the rich culture and philosophy of the Yoruba. She demonstrated that Oduduwa predated Socrates and his thoughts were as profound, if not more than the Europeans.
She was also able to clarify the muddled idea that Esu is the Satan of the Christian and Islamic faiths. For her, Esu is one of the Yoruba Gods of creativity, though noted for mischief, but not Satan, as the personification of the antipode in the dualism of good and evil, with Satan being the evil.
Her work brought a lot of respect to Yoruba philosophy and culture and in the process, she herself was well regarded by her peers, which brought her global respect in her field. She will remain a leading light and reference in the study of African philosophy for a long time to come.
She was a great humanist. She loved people and she gave herself wholly to all the people that came into her sphere of influence. She was kind-hearted, loving and generous to a fault. No wonder she was well loved by all her students and colleagues.
Her traditional African beliefs, no doubt will not readily endear her to the predominant orthodoxies of Christianity and Islam in her environment, she nevertheless was a shining light, a beacon of hope.
As an African traditionalist, she was a righteous person and imbued with high integrity. She lived a transparent life and lived the courage of her convictions.
She was a role model to all her students and was a good mother. Her classes were always well subscribed because of the depth of her scholarship, her humour, her power of conviction and her style of teaching.
We were not related biologically but in philosophy and attitude we shared a lot in common, particularly her elevation of African philosophy. She was married to an Ijesa man whom I never met but spoke about with her. As an Afrocentric scholar that advanced our values and customs in her works and researches, I greatly appreciate her efforts.
Her passage is therefore a personal loss to me. She has left a huge void that can never be filled. As we celebrate her passage, I found solace in the good life she lived, in the goodness she brought to people and the enlightenment that came from her fecund mind.
On behalf of myself, my family and associates, I send heartfelt condolences to her family. May God comfort them and grant them the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.
May the Almighty grant the repose of her soul and give her comfort in her next estate.
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola
Ilesa, State of Osun
Posted by Victoria Agbelese on April 24, 2019
I never thought that this day would come so soon. My heart is not ready to say goodbye. While the world grieves the loss of a renown philosopher, trailblazer, activist, and professor, our family grieves the loss of our sister, mother, and grandmother.
As a child I was always fascinated with learning about you and from you; whether it was from speaking to you directly on the phone or hearing stories from my mother. I loved hearing about the countries you visited, the languages you spoke, and the lessons you instilled in my mother. One of the most important lessons my mother learned from you, and she heavily instilled in my sisters and I, is the importance of being a strong, opinionated, independent women. In a world that aims to silence the voices of women, you did not let that stop you from accomplishing your dreams and spreading your wisdom. You would not let them dim your light. Grandma, you exuded strength and resilience. I know I speak for all of your grandchildren when I say that you have and will continue to inspire us to strive for our dreams regardless of the challenges that arise along the way.
Above all, you taught us to love without bounds. We never had to guess whether you loved us, we knew by your words and your actions that you truly cared. This love was not just reserved for family as you were constantly opening your home and cared for others like your own.
Grandma you were such a beautiful and loving soul. Your laugh was contagious and your smile brightened every room. I will miss our phone calls and occasional video chats. I am thankful for all the years of memories and the time we spent together.
Thank you for everything. Thank you for all of the encouragement, wisdom, prayers, and love.
We all love and miss you more than we can express in words. Although you are no longer here, our memories together will forever live within our hearts.
God Bless You Grandma.May you rest in peace.
Posted by Ibukun Fakeye Naija on April 22, 2019
Mama Sophie Bosede Oluwole is alive and lives on through her published books, documented conversations and seminars on Yoruba language, culture and tradition. I appreciate her and know that present and future generations will continue to benefit from her works.
Ibukun Akin Fakeye
Posted by Segilola Ologbenla on April 10, 2019
My Grandmother, my friend, my confidant, my argument partner.....o yes! I argued with my grandmother. Arguments with you were always so interesting. We argued about everything and anything; from politics to academics to religion. Anything was a potential topic. But I never won any of the arguments. You had your ways. I miss those times.
You were a strict woman. I remember mum used to tell us stories of how when she was young you'd say you couldn't eat moi moi or akara made from beans that was ground with a blender and so she'd have to use the traditional grinding stone to grind beans at age 10.
I prayed to God to keep you alive for me so that we could take a four generation photograph, mum, myself and my daughters .....but you didn't wait. You left. Just like that. I query no one..... I will pass on your legacies to my children.
I know you are in Heaven because I've dreamt about you twice and they were wonderful dreams. I know that's God's way of consoling me.
I can never forget you Grandma. You will always be in my heart. I love you dearly.
Posted by MABINU OLADIPO on March 29, 2019
I have deliberately stayed away from this platform until now because I just could not bring myself to accept the fact that you are gone but as the days went by and the funeral ceremonies get nearer, I am forced to face this rude reality, for the very first time. As I envisaged, my fears came to pass. As I opened unto this page and I saw the different pictures testifying to the truth that once you were here, and as I listened to the music, "Prayer", play so softly, the tears rolled. Hot, steaming tears flowed freely down my cheeks, and continue to flow, even as I write.
No doubt your passage has hit different people in different ways but somehow, I feel a deep pain that many may probably wonder at. After all, you were 83, defying death at an earlier age and attaining to your 80s as you prophesied, once upon a time on your sick bed!
Ours was a relationship that went beyond auntie and niece. We were friends. We laughed, we joked, we argued, we worked and we danced! How much of those memories I would be able to keep, I don't know. Besides your 'boyfriend' as I referred to your nephew, Bro. Akin, you were the only person who woke me up at 5 a.m. and when I did not pick at the first ring, you greeted me with the words, "Sumbo, O si nsun ni?" We shared so much in common and perhaps that is why I understood you, possibly, above all. You were carefree. You were calm. You were witty. You were intelligent. When you argued your case, no one knew your navigation until you arrived at your destination! Life was interesting with you around. Your presence evoked an excitement in me, anytime I saw you. It was always a time of sweet camaraderie, and laughter, and the expression of a good kindred spirit.
Suddenly, all of that is gone?
I saw you pass away in my dream a week before you did, and I wept sore that I did not get a last opportunity to see you. Events of your passage would eventually happen exactly as I saw it - to the letter. The day before you left, I was coming in from Abeokuta and as I reached the turn-in to your house, I lamented that I could have dropped by, but the road had been blocked and I couldn't spare the extra time it would take to go further to turn and to go even further to turn again when I would leave. How I wish I had shunned that inconvenience, for then I would have had a last look at your face and kept a fresh memory of you for a long time. I made plans with Wumi who had just come in from Canada to see you with the children on Christmas eve. Alas, you had a different plan. Like I couldn't spare the time to turn in to you the day before, you could not wait till the day after to see us. You left the night before. I grieve, I mourn. Yes, even at 83, you were my 'young' mum.
I celebrate your life and times. I celebrate your doggedness and push. I celebrate your achievements and legacies but above all, I celebrate YOU!
It will never be the same. There is a void that cries out to be filled every time I see reminders of you. I am so very proud to have been part of your life and your blood.
As I joked with Sis. Funke, you and I were more related. We are both nee Aloba. As single ladies, we bore that family root name with pride but they were not so privileged! You and I referred to them as diluted juice! Finally, a smile plays across my lips - bitter-sweet memories of a woman who came, who saw, who conquered. I sign out with this song, as it attempts to define all I have left of you.
"Memories are all I have to cling to (cling to)
And heartaches are the friends I'm talking to (talking to)
When I'm not thinking of just how much I loved you
Well I'm thinking about the things we used to do."
Adieu my darling aunt and mum. Oh Lord, I miss you so dearly!
Posted by Olatunde Adejuwon on March 16, 2019
Mummy, mummy Tope, that was the name we Tope friends at Oyemekun Grammar school, Akure and later at Opebi rd, where Tope often accommodated us while looking for jobs or just resting after the Lagos hustle. Mummy was quite accommodating and always encouraging us to be patience. A very good and great woman in all ramifications. Good night mummy
Posted by Wumi Aina on March 16, 2019
I am honored to be loved and cared for in the past many decades of my life with you mom, auntie, best friend and my confidant. You were never too quick to fault me even when I am in default and fully aware of my wrong doings. Remember when were asked to chastise me in 2004 for not doing what people believe is right and your response was;"She's not liked because she is Aloba. People are just jealous, ride on my girl". The laughter we had that day and many after will continue to linger on my loving mom, aunt and confidant.  I will continue to have your presence till eternity and forever be grateful for all the good times, stories, history, lectures, fun, the fresh food you always cook for me whenever I come home, our long conversations on May 12 yearly and the last one we had less than two weeks before your passing. Rest in perfect peace mom till we meet again and yes mother we shall surely meet again.
Posted by Taiwo Adedoyin on March 15, 2019
Mummy Oluwole,
You memories remain fresh in my heart. Your office was my reading room in year 1 (Not sure you ever got to know this!).
You were accommodating, enterprising, strong and intelligent.
Your house was open to all, your office was a meeting room back in Unilag with both young and old. What a privilege to have known you.
I am certain you live a fulfilled life.
Rest on...
Posted by Efosa Imhoaperamhe on March 14, 2019
It is really difficult to write tribute of ones mother and guardian . who saw me through the difficulties of the world. Your death takes me down memory lane. Despite all the struggles, you left when we needed you most. She taught me how to cook garden egg soup
Professor was a great disciplinarian who love education and hardworking mother. Every morning she wake up, she walk round her garden and visit her small farm in her compound. Their is something I will always remember about her is "time management". She respect time a lot.
Oh! How strong is the grip of death ! It brings heroes to the grave! It takes mentors to a place of no return. Today your daughter Efosa Imhoaperamhe is married with a lovely son. Mama, professor, we miss your. R.I.P. till we meet again.
Efosa Imhoaperamhe.
Posted by Femi Jolaolu on March 14, 2019
It's difficult to imagine you will lose someone so cerebral and deep rooted in knowledge across all spheres of life, yet submissive to the Almighty God and our Lord Jesus. When I first met her, I found it tough to understand her stand on faith, she however took me through philosophy of religion, Christian faith, about Ifa and some traditional beliefs of the African and how they reveal who Jesus is in their own understanding; she dealt with truth all the time without bias. She didn't suffer fools gladly yet she was a compassionate and very understanding personality who believed absolutely in transparency. I had the privilege of designing some of her book covers and alo edited some of her books. She was respectful and jolly to be with. Sad as it may be, I just have to say, goodnight ma.
Posted by Sophia-Joy Agbelese on March 13, 2019
Dear Grandma,
When I was younger, my mom told me stories about you, about how wise you were, about your accomplishments. One story I remember in particular was when you did not complete the reading assignment but you were still able to get all the questions right on the assessment you had the following day. I remember being so impressed because if I had done the same thing, I would have definitely not had everything correct.
Stories like those make me proud to have been named after you. A woman who embodied her name; wisdom. You were not only book smart, having gotten your PhD, but you raised my mother and aunts and uncles well. One can see how you instilled in them many moral values and life lessons that they passed onto the next generation.
Although I do not remember ever meeting you in person and only spoke to you over phone calls and WhatsApp facetime call, I still loved and continue to love you. I thank God that you have lived a fulfilling life and I now know you are home with Him.
Your granddaughter,
Sophia-Joy Agbelese
Posted by Kemi Okorie on March 13, 2019
My memories of you, ma, would always be how comfortable you are in your identity, how powerful your intellect is, how generous your spirit is with wisdom and knowledge, how unique is a friendship with you!
I sincerely thought of you as one of those that you could not walk away from, ignore or neglect!
A rare precious gem!
May the Lord comfort those you left behind and may they never have to feel your loss without rejoicing in the gift of your relationship with them as I do!
Sleep well Ma!
Posted by Fola Fapohunda on March 5, 2019
It’s one of those cases where I haven’t yet cried because my mind hasn’t understood what it’s like for grandma to be gone.
Maybe it’s because I didn’t see you everyday, or maybe it’s because I didn’t hear your voice everyday; but the one thing I’m sure scared to do would be to visit Ibafo and then to see that place without you, or to see your body one last time. Those moments are moments I’m afraid of, for the tears that are coming are floods I fear.
I love you grandma.
Posted by Mope Fapohunda on February 25, 2019
Mother Dear Mother!
It's almost unbelievable that you've truly crossed over. You were almost superhuman even at that age! You exuded so much energy and it was hard to win an argument with you as almost every conversation was an intellectual discourse.
You were an answer to my prayers long before thoughts of settling down in marriage came to mind. I asked God to give me a replacement for my biological mum whom He called to Himself when I was very young. In you, God answered and you fulfilled your role beautifully and defended me such that I had no doubt I was your daughter.
Thank you mum for all you did and meant to me and indeed all of us. I remain eternally grateful, proud and joyful for the gift of you dear mother!
You are truly irreplaceable and will be missed forever.
Rest on mum. You truly deserve a good rest.
Loving You Still,
Your Daughter - Mope
Posted by Olufunke Gesinde on February 23, 2019
My Mum
Are you really gone, or I'm in a terrible dream?
You mean I will never receive a call from you Mum?
Who will I share my worries and issues with Mum?
Who will give me HONEST unbiased answers Mum?
Apart from The Lord Jesus Christ, you were the only one, Mum.
Thank God for those three months we spent together at my place.
What would I give, to take care of and stay with you all over?
It was your characteristic way of saying goodbye, but I never knew.
Even with your death , you didn't want to trouble us. No rushing to the hospital,no spending of a fortune. You went so quietly! With all that wisdom, Mum? What a loss!! To us as a family, to Nigeria, to the Yoruba race, to humanity. You had so many battles, and you faced and fought each gallantly. You left a wonderful name and legacy. We have you to look up to. At the end, in spite of it all, you made peace with your maker, what happiness! Just days before your departure, you asked God for forgiveness of your sins. What joy! That is our only consolation. No doubt, you are irreplaceable. To say I will miss you is the greatest understatement of all time. I love you Mum, and I pray to meet you in heaven. Sleep on beloved, you deserve a rest on The Lord's blossom.
Posted by Oluwole-Akinwumi Babatund... on February 22, 2019
I don’t think it has hit me still,
Am probably still in denial,
Cos this light I didn’t want dim.
I miss you everyday and it feels unreal
There’s an ache within my heart
Doubt if it’ll ever go away
Your name still lights the room though.
Thank you for ALL.
National Treasure
My mother
Posted by Funmi Ope-Babatunde on February 22, 2019

Mummy, my loving, warm, caring, precious mummy.
Words fail me.
I am still unable to verbalize how I feel. The emptiness your departure has caused. The words of wisdom I seek for and no one can give. The warmth that comes from hearing your voice on the phone. The happiness that your hugs give me. The joy in your smile and laughter.
The pride I feel from your character: Your wittiness. Your patience. Your perseverance. Your liveliness. Your authenticity. Your pureness. Your veracity. Your wisdom.
You are my AFRICAN ROSE.
My heroine.

Life won’t be the same without you but I’m comforted by my faith in God and his Word.
I miss you mummy, everyday, every minute.
I will forever continue to love you and honor your memory. Till we meet again.

Your baby girl.
Posted by Mofoluso Agbelese on February 21, 2019
My mom, undeniably my heroine
You were gone too soon
I find it difficult to write this tribute because words cannot express what you mean to me.
I just wanted to wrap my arms around you one more time to tell how much I love and appreciate you but it was not to be...
You were gone too soon
I thank God I was able to spend so much quality time with you the last time I saw you: travelling, talking, singing, video taping, praying, sharing and so much more.
I miss you so much but alas, I have to trust God's plan.
Rest in your savior's bosom
Sun re o iya mi owon

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Mope Fapohunda on May 12, 2022
Mother dear mother!

Each time I think of you, I am thankful that God gave me you!
We remember you today as always and remain thankful for the gift of you and the impact you made on the lives of all who connected with you even remotely!

Ìyá rere, continue to rest in the bosom of the Lord. I remain eternally grateful for you & miss you still mom. ♥️
Posted by Olufunke Gesinde on May 12, 2022
Happy 87th birthday Mum. Though you're no longer here, we still celebrate the day you were born. Thank God for all you were able to achieve through God who strengthened you. I still met someone yesterday who talked about the way you impacted her life. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made for us your children, and your love for your nephews and nieces. We all remember you always. Continue to rest in peace in Jesus ' name. We love you Mum. ❤
Posted by Mofoluso Agbelese on May 12, 2022
Still missing you…., don’t think the ache will ever go away.
As God will have it, I have the day off and as I reflect on what would have been your 87th birthday today, I cannot help but thank God for your legacy and how you continue to inspire me even though you left over three years ago.
Continue to rest in the bosom of Jesus mom.
her Life

Her Early Life

                   (Credits, Kazeem Fayemi, Ph.D)

Abosede Olayemi Sophie Oluwole was born in 1935 in Igbara-Oke, Ondo state into an Anglican family. Her father was baptized in 1912 while her mother’s baptism came in 1915 shortly before her marriage. Both parents were from Edo state. Contrary to popular opprobrium that Oluwole was a Yoruba given her prominence as a leading figure in Yoruba Philosophy, she was indeed an Edo person by virtue of ancestral lineage. Her being born and bred in Igbara-Oke was a result of her father being born and living there.

Oluwole’s grandfather came from Benin in about 1850 and was indeed a high ranking official in the Oba’s palace in Benin. Her paternal grandmother too came from Benin, a daughter of a Benin governor in Ogotun. Both her parents were established traders. Her mother, who was an expert in tie and dye, was also a professional weaver and an astute trader in Igbara Oke market. Her father was an accomplished trader, shuttling between Lagos and Igbara-Oke and from Igbara-Oke to Onitsha.

Being an Edo woman, Oluwole understood the Edo dialect though could not speak it fluently. It is therefore tempting to regard her of being more of a Yoruba person, especially in the light of the origin and source of her name, than regarding her as an Edo person. Without necessarily recurring to her surname after marriage, Oluwole, both “Abosede” (a girl born on a Sunday) and “Olayemi” (I deserve wealth) in her names are of Yoruba extract and syntax. The “Sophie” in her name has a complex entry. Neither was she named “Sophie” at birth by her parents or grandparents nor did she choose and foist it on herself. The name came about long before she could even fathom the meaning.

Her Early Education

She earned the name “Sofia” (in its original spelling before later spelt “Sophie” as a matter of choice) around the age of eight when she was about to be baptized. The name was given to her by a headmaster of the community school in Igbara-Oke who was a friend of the family. He came about “Sofia” as a result of his assessment of Abosede Olayemi as a clever girl. This second naming by the headmaster was significant in Oluwole’s life because shortly after the baptism, she ended up living at the headmaster’s place. From here, Sophie attended St. Paul’s Anglican Primary School, Igbara-Oke, where she had her primary education up to standard VI. She proceeded from here to Anglican Girls modern school, at Ile-Ife in 1951. In 1953, she enrolled at the Women Training College, Ilesha, where she finished with a class IV certificate in 1954. With this excellent result, she became a qualified teacher.

Oluwole began her teaching career, first at Ogotun and later in Ibadan. Though this career was truncated when in 1963, she decided to travel to Moscow along with her husband, Olanrewaju Joseph Fapohunda, who was on scholarship. At Moscow, her intention was to study Economics, which was mainly thought in Russian Language. Due to her deficiency in the language, she enrolled at Moscow State University for a year preparatory class. Her time of completion of this course in 1964 was coincidental to the period her husband decided to leave the Soviet Union because of the difficulty of coping with the Russian Language. The implication of this was that she had to leave with him and the dream of studying Economics at Moscow was unrealized.

From Moscow, she left for Germany in 1965 while her husband went to the United States to continue his studies. In Germany, she proceeded to the University of Cologne. Because she did not have “A levels” before she left Nigeria, and since her certificate of preparatory course at Moscow State University was not recognized in Germany, she was unable to gain direct admission to a German University. So, in Germany, she had to do another preparatory year. Her performance at the University of Cologne, which was excellent, earned her a full scholarship in Philology. But instead of honouring the scholarship, Oluwole decided to go to the United States to meet her husband, with whom she had two  children in Nigeria before their academic odyssey abroad. She left the United States for Nigeria in 1967. On returning home,Oluwole ensured that  she got s teaching job at Anglican Grammar School, Igbara- Oke. (Why Igbara Oke?according to Oluwole, she wanted to stay close to her father). In 1970 she gained admission to University of Lagos  in order to continue her education.

The Fear Of Soyinka

At this time in Nigeria, Oluwole’s thinking was not even that of studying Philosophy. She got admission into a B.A Education programme with English as her main subject at the University of Lagos in 1967. She eventually abandoned English for Philosophy because of the predominant phobia of Prof. Wole Soyinka, who many regarded at that time as an academic monster in the Department of English, UNILAG. Her attraction for Philosophy began to grow because of her innate capacity for looking at issues critically and as a person given to prolific expressions. She had her first degree in Philosophy in 1970, coming out top of the class with a Second Class Upper Division.

It is interesting to note that throughout her first degree education, she was never introduced to African philosophy. This was not advertent but because her teachers were mainly trained in the West and had to take the class through Greek philosophy, British philosophy and German philosophy. Oluwole obtained her Masters degree in 1974 at the University of Lagos. It was at the point of writing her M.A dissertation that J.B. Dankwa (Jr.) mentioned African philosophy to her hearings for the first time.

Thus, Danquah got her interested in African philosophy but Danquah’s interest was on Egyptology, which traces the origin of African philosophy, and even Western Philosophy to Egyptian writings and thought. But Oluwole had some disquiet and reservations with this view. Her concern was not to controvert the popular Egyptological view that earlier Greek thinkers came to Egypt to study Philosophy, steal or borrow the Egyptian philosophical thought as the case may be. Nor was she concerned with investigating the Africaness of the Egyptian civilization or not.

Her concern was motivated by the question: “If the Egyptians were black and they studied Philosophy first, what happened to the original people, the people who initiated Philosophy?” Are there residues of the original African thought, that predated the advent of Christianity or Islam? These and other related questions agitated her mind. In seeking answers to this string of questions, she thought that her M.A dissertation would provide a veritable platform.

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As Dean of Students Affairs In University of Lagos while I was an undergraduate, I made sure I stayed out of trouble and made sure that I did not visit her office for any reason at all. Well that changed in my final year I am not quite sure why I ended up in her office but i did and she saw me, and she said you have never come to say hi to me in my office. I mumbled an excuse and she told her staff. he is my nephew and he has been in this school but has never come to say hello to me either in my office at the faculty of Arts or here in the DSA's office.

She then looked at me and said well i have your file and have been compiling your results and performance from your year one till now, so if you think I did not keep an eye on you well now you know. 

She knew. I didn't know she knew. She didn't let me know she knew, till we met. So yeah she loved her nephew and kept an eye out without him knowing. guess its true that blood is thicker and in this case wiser and smarter than water.

Mum’s varsity students called her a witch because she was strict - An Interview With "The Punch"

Shared by Mope Fapohunda on February 25, 2019

Olufunke is one of the children of Nigeria’s first female doctorate holder in Philosophy, Prof. Sophie Oluwole, who died in December, 2018. She talks about her mother’s ideals with GBENGA ADENIJI 

Tell us more about yourself.

I am Deaconess Olufunke Gesinde, a daughter of Prof. Sophie Oluwole. I am a school administrator. I have been running a school for about 25 years. We are six children. My older brother is an architect and lives in Germany. I have another brother who is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I have a US-based sister, who has a PhD in nursing. There is another sister who is a bank worker and the last born is a businessman.
Was it your mother who influenced your interest in education?

I think it was God. There is a saying that some people were born great, some achieved greatness and some had greatness thrust upon them. I think I just had education thrust upon me because I initially wanted to be a lawyer. Thank God I wasn’t a lawyer because I would have become one of the worst lawyers in history.

Why did you say that?

I said that because I wouldn’t tell lies. If anyone is guilty, I cannot look for loopholes for the person; so, I wouldn’t be getting briefs. I wouldn’t cover up for someone who commits an offence. You know lawyers look for ways to set their clients free even when they are guilty. I would only do so if I am convinced that my client is not guilty.  I got into education by chance. My mother wanted to start a primary school when I was young. That was over 40 years ago. May be that was how it came about but I don’t think I got the interest from there.

Did she encourage her children to follow certain career paths?

No, she didn’t. She only encouraged us to be educated.  I recall that about 10 years ago, she told me that she was not lucky to have any child that went to school. I asked her what she meant by that since we are all graduates. She replied that we all earned first degrees and that to really go to school starts from earning a master. It was after that my brother got a master and my sister studied up to PhD. She used to tell me that I wasn’t educated as I earned only first degree even though I had diplomas in other disciplines.

What childhood memories can you recall with your mother?

My mother was a strict disciplinarian. Unfortunately, I am the first girl and she was hard on me especially. I didn’t like her at all when I was young. I recall that I confessed to her five years ago that I used to wish her dead then because I felt she didn’t like me. I thank God that He doesn’t answer stupid prayers. I started going to the market and cooking at 10.

She would give me a list of what to buy and I was in soup if I bought rubbish. I remember that then she used to tell me that she couldn’t eat baked beans ground with blender. I used to grind the beans on a grinding stone. By 7am, food must be ready. I would have woken up early to soak the beans in readiness for grinding and frying afterwards. Then, I would make pap and get everything ready by 7am.

At 10, the things I didn’t do were to pound yam or make amala (yam flour). She would tell others that whichever way I cooked the food was the way we would all eat it. I am a good cook today.  I was a simple child who did whatever I was told to do. By the time my sisters were born, they had no choice than to toe my footsteps. I was a teenager when our last born came and I took care of him from when he was three weeks old. My mother would sit beside me and tell me to bathe him and that soap must not enter his eyes or slip away from me.  I usually wondered why she gave birth to him if she couldn’t take care of him by herself. She used to tell me that my mates in the northern part of the country were already taking care of their children.  When I had my child later, it was easy for me. As I returned home from the hospital, I massaged him with hot water, used palm oil to scrub his body and threw him up to the extent that my sister-in-law wondered where I learnt all that. My mother gave me a good training.

How did your mother discipline any child who misbehaved as a strict disciplinarian you said she was?

My mother didn’t spare the rod. She used the cane on me up till when I took school certificate examination. She could use the cane, her palms or anything in sight.  I didn’t like pap, custard or any light food when I was young. She would force me to take it, saying that a child would eat whatever her parents had to offer. At lunch, she would cook rice which was a delicacy at the time. It could be dodo (fried plantain) and eggs for dinner. I wouldn’t be given any until I had taken the pap or custard. Despite that, I never went to the kitchen to steal food. But now, I like both pap and baked beans.

As an academician, did she impress it on her children to excel academically?

Yes, she used to mark scripts for the West African Examination Council. After I took the examination, she told me that she marked my scripts. I was happy that at least, I would pass most of the subjects. When the results were released, I had four credits and a pass in Bible Knowledge. I went to her and asked why she gave me a pass in the subject. She said she didn’t give me a pass in the subject but that it was what I scored. I told her she should have checked to see where I could get half mark in other answers to at least give me a credit. She said if she added a half mark, where would she tell her supervisor she got it from.

She told me she discovered that I knew the answers but didn’t know how to answer WAEC questions. She explained how to tackle the examination and the next time I sat for it, I passed excellently well.

When she was at the University of Lagos, my younger sister got below the 200 cut-off point. My mother insisted that she must make up for the mark. She had to retake the then Universities Matriculation Examination (now Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) and it was the same situation. We didn’t bother to go to her.  It was at the third attempt that she got the right score to enter the university. My mother was that strict.

Did she take the family to special places for bonding?

My mother didn’t have time for that. When I was in secondary school, she was always writing papers and attending seminars. She was already a lecturer at the time. It was because of her that I didn’t go for a PhD. When she was studying for PhD, she could wake up at night to write, saying a thought occurred to her. We didn’t have time to go on holidays anywhere. She was also a businesswoman. It is one aspect about her that people didn’t know. She had shops where she sold household items and plastics to augment her salary as we are many. All her daughters took after her in that regard. Despite the fact that we have our careers, we are also into business. My sister, who works in a bank, can sell ice to the Eskimos. My mother was not strict with the boys.

How did she relax?   

My mother was always busy. I grew up to see her reading and writing and I never saw her relax. If she was not with her books, she would be at her shop. She was an academician through and through; always reading and writing.

Your mother made appreciable philosophical discourse on thinkers like Orunmila and Socrates. How would you describe her thoughts especially as captured in the books she authored?

At first, most of us were against it the moment we saw Orunmila. We didn’t want to read it as we are all born-again Christians. I told her that I wouldn’t read the book and she said that was why she said I wasn’t educated. She said if one saw a book, one should read it first to make one’s judgment about it. Later, we got to know what she was saying. People didn’t understand my mother. There was a time she wanted to sue a newspaper for calling her ‘mamalawo’ (female herbalist). She was examining Ifa (oracle) from an academic point of view. She wasn’t looking at it as a religion or cult but as a culture of the Yoruba. Through Ifa, she was able to understand the thoughts of the forbears and saw a lot of wisdom in it. It was the wisdom that attracted her to compare it with Socrates. But people like me and some others just assumed that what she was saying was about Ifa and Orunmila. She used to tell me that she knew the Bible better than the general overseer of the church I attend. She was a chorister and Sunday school teacher when she was young.

How sociable was she?

She wasn’t much of a social person. She didn’t use to go to parties like me that attend weddings. Many times when she wanted to give a speech somewhere, I would complain about her headgear. She would tell me not to bother her, that what mattered was what she would say at the event. In her later years when she retired, we enjoyed her. She especially loved her grandchildren. She was also ecstatic when she became a great-grandmother. My son’s wife gave birth and she called him for making her a great-grandmother. She was not strict with her grandchildren and they also loved her.

Did you ever watch her teach?

Yes, I was one of her students when I was at the UNILAG. I took a course, Philosophy of Mind. It was very abstract.  I initially wanted to study Law but I didn’t have enough points at A level. English was my second choice and I was advised to read Education but I rejected it. Before I got admission to the school, my mother advised that I should study Philosophy.

I said okay and decided to tell my father that my mother advised me to study Philosophy as I didn’t get admission for Law. My father said, “Philo what?  You can do any other course but not Philosophy. One philosopher in the family is too many.” He couldn’t handle my mother in arguments. You cannot argue with my mother and win her. I eventually studied English and Yoruba.

What was her favourite food?

She was not particular about food; but later in life, she stopped taking oil, sugar and salt. I am sure she must have liked pounded yam in her early years because she was raised in Ekiti. She was an Edo and not a Yoruba woman. She has Ekiti intonation because it was where she was raised. Her parents were Edo. Her great-grandfather was Tapa (Nupe).

Did she have music preference?

I recall that when I was in Form 2, she was learning to play the piano.  She liked Fela’s songs because she felt he had something to say and they shared similar ideology. We had many of Fela’s songs at home especially Zombie.

How do people react knowing you are her daughter?

Some people brought their children to my school because of my mother. There was a man who came to ask of my relationship with her. I said she was my mother and he asked if she was my biological mother and I said yes. He said that he believed that his child would be in a safe hand in a school run by one of Sophie’s children. He said anybody my mother gave birth to would be like her.

What values did you imbibe from her?

My mother was a straightforward person. She worked with many influential people and never took advantage of that. I recall that she once worked with the late First Lady, Maryam Babangida. I told her to ask for contracts but she said she would never do that. She told me that a good name is better riches. She worked with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo when she was on the board of the Presidential Library. She was close to Senator Oluremi Tinubu and many others. I am beginning to realise that I am like my mother. I absorbed some things from her unknowingly. I detest dishonesty and don’t condone examination malpractice. My mother could kill any child who stole. If I hold any public office, I will not touch a penny and won’t allow anyone to do so.

Did you enjoy any preferential treatment in the university because of your mother?

I almost failed her course when I took it in part two. I had a friend in the university who we always studied together. If she got a B grade, I would get a few marks higher than her. When we took the examination, my mother’s secretary, who typed the results, discovered that my score was much lower than my colleague’s. She drew my mother’s attention to it.

But my mother told her to type out whatever she saw there as there was nothing she could do about it. It was at the final stage that my mother discovered that she didn’t add my continuous assessment. I did better than the girl when the CA was added. When I learnt of what happened, I went to my mother and she said it was a mistake and that anyone could make a mistake. I was shocked and asked why she would make a mistake only on my result among many other students who took the course. In year three, she urged me to take another philosophy course, Philosophy of Education. I didn’t agree but I regret it today because being an educationist now, I would have gained something from it. I didn’t enjoy any preferential treatment while in the university.

I probably escaped some things which I didn’t know. I once worked with the Lagos State Government and was sent on a course. There, I met a man who called me by my name and I didn’t like it. I was smallish at the time and preferred being addressed as Mrs. He said he was my classmate and that there was a time he wanted to ask me out. He explained that he told a friend who advised him to steer clear if he wanted to graduate from the university as I was mama’s (Prof Sophie’s) daughter. If anybody messed with anybody, nobody came near me because they knew I was her daughter. My mother was very strict. Even in the university, they used to call her a witch. I was also called a witch when I was teaching with the Lagos State Government as I didn’t condone indiscipline. I was also strict in marking.

Did she know that students called her a witch?

She was aware but didn’t care.

Tell us about your father.

My father was the late Prof Olanrewaju Fapohunda of UNILAG. My mother remarried after they separated. My mother had the first four of us for my father. My father was very brilliant but my mother was very intelligent.

What would you love to change about your mother if given the opportunity?

I am proud of my mother and I don’t think I would want to change anything about her. However, I wished she took care of her dressing. She tried to wear adire (local fabric) and beads towards the end of her life. She promoted the Yoruba culture. I used to buy her laces and gold but she would just throw them somewhere. She didn’t care.

Who were her friends?

She liked to make friends with unusual people. She didn’t see herself as a professor. She associated with any intelligent person. One could think her friends would be people in her category. Although she had people like Prof Bolanle Awe that she interacted with, she was particularly close to her nephew, Mr Akin Aloba.

What was your last conversation with her?

She called me two days before she passed on. She took ill in June, 2018 and was with me for three months.  She was okay after two months and insisted on going home. She didn’t like to depend on people. After arguing over that for a month, she left for her house. There was a time she was sick. We took her to the hospital and she became well. Two day before she died, she called me that her legs were swollen, that maybe it was because she went to get herbs for someone down with malaria.

I wondered why she couldn’t tell those close to the person the leaves to get and how to use it for the person. I told her what to do to reduce the swollen part. A day before her death, I called to know the state of the legs and she told me she was fine. We usually went to her house to celebrate the New Year with her but I said we should do it on Christmas day. We were preparing for that when she died. When she died, I believed her spirit came to my house because I was not feeling comfortable that day. I decided to lie down thinking that it was because of the vigil I had the night before. I was in that state when my phone rang. The caller was the girl with my mother and she said she was dead.

She ate amala for lunch and requested bread for dinner. As they were preparing it, she went to the toilet. It was when she didn’t come out on time that the girl went to check and saw that she was dead. We went to her house that night. I took her to the hospital but they rejected her because they knew she was dead. We felt there was something they could do. She didn’t die after a prolonged illness and wasn’t born in 1936 as reported after her death. She was born on May 12, 1935.

How do you feel with her demise?

She is irreplaceable (burst into prolonged tears)