Dr. Felix Oludare Ajiola, a lecturer at the Department of History and Strategic Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Nigeria, has emerged the 1st place winner of the 2nd edition of the Rahamon Bello Best PhD Thesis in African & Diaspora Studies Award. The announcement was made on Tuesday, November 30, 2021, by Professor ‘Muyiwa Falaiye, Director, Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (lADS), UNILAG.
The Award-winning thesis is titled “Cocoa Production and Rural Development in Idanre, Southwestern Nigeria, 1900-1996”. It was written under the supervision of Professor Olutayo Adesina in fulfilment of Dr. Felix Ajiola’s doctorate degree in History at the University of Ibadan.
Dr. Ajiola was unanimously selected as the over-all winner after over a month of rigorous and careful selection process by three (3) renowned academicians from the United Kingdom, Kenya and Nigeria. He emerged victorious out of 24 entries.
Dr. Joseph Kunnuji, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, came second with a PhD Thesis in Ethnomusicology, titled, “A Chronicle of Cultural Transformation: Ethnography of Badagry Ogu Musical Practices”, supervised by Prof. Sylvia Brainders, at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Dr. Louis Kusi Frimpong, a lecturer at the University of Environment and Sustainable Development, Somanya, Ghana, came third with PhD Thesis in Geography and Resource Development, titled, “Fear of Crime in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis Exploring the role of the built Environment and Community Social Organisation”, supervised by Prof. Martin Oteng-Ababio, Prof. Charles Wrangley-Asante & Prof. George Owusu at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Also given special recognition for his work was Mark, Nartey of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, whose PhD thesis was on “Discourse and Political myth-making: A critical Discourse study of Nkrumaism.”
Elated beyond words to have clinched a cash prize of US $1,000.00, Dr. Ajiola, in a conversation with the Communication Unit of the University of Lagos shared what motivated him to conduct such a unique research. He disclosed that his favourite subjects during his undergraduate studies and the various courses he took in African political economy and development economics during his post-graduate studies, influenced his pursuit of a doctoral research on Cocoa Production and Rural Development in Southwest Nigeria, 1900 to 1996. Speaking further, he gave ample credit to his supervisor, Professor Olutayo Adesina of the Department of History at the University of Ibadan, who encouraged him to undergo a study of the Cocoa industry in Idanre, the largest single Cocoa producing locality in Nigeria that had hitherto been understudied, despite its centrality to the Cocoa Industry in Nigeria.
The scholar shared that his doctoral thesis investigates the relationship between cocoa production and rural development, and situate research on agrarian accumulation and rural social and economic structures development within the broader concept of rural development and rural livelihood sustainability.
Speaking on the next phase of his scholarly sojourn, Dr. Ajiola disclosed that he is presently conducting ethnographic research on the transformation of rural agrarian livelihoods in Nigeria, Ghana, and Sao Tome and Principe. He intends for his postdoctoral study to investigate the dynamics of diversification and transformation occurring within Nigeria’s Cocoa industry through the lens of history and ethnography. He believes that the research will fill a perceived gap in knowledge on the transformation of rural agrarian livelihoods in developing countries.
Professor Rahamon A. Bello, the 11th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, being a scholar of great repute himself, endowed the Award at IADS in 2020, hence the name, Rahamon Bello Best PhD Thesis in African & Diaspora Studies Award. The Award seeks to encourage and appreciate young intellectuals whose Ph.D. theses address African and diaspora issues, the reconfiguration of African Studies, as well as promote cutting-edge intellectual and multidisciplinary research works in African Studies.
A Presentation of Award Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at the IADS Gallery, Second (2nd) Floor, J.P. Clark Building, at 11:00 a.m.
Pictorial highlights of the announcement held at the Board Room, J.P. Clark Building, beside Faculty of Arts, UNILAG.