The academic works and scholarly feats of world-renowned Professor of Economic History at the University of Cambridge, Emeritus Professor Anthony Gerald Hopkins were the focus of appreciation at a Roundtable Conference held on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at the University of Lagos.
Tagged “Hopkins Homecoming Roundtable” with the theme, “Enterprises and Entrepreneurs in Lagos 1930s to 1970s”, the conference organized by the Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos was graced by Emeritus Professor Anthony Gerald Hopkins himself.
In her remarks to formally welcome Emeritus Professor Hopkins to the university, the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Professor Olufunke Adeboye adjudged him a pathfinder in the study of African Economics. She hinged her premise on Prof. Hopkins’ intellectual outputs which has inspired, influenced and given directions to academic discourse and scholarly studies by many researchers over the years.
While paying glowing tributes to the world-renowned scholar for his stake in shaping the dimensions and ramifications of studying Economic History which he kicked off in Lagos with his Ph.D. thesis titled “An Economic History of Lagos, 1880–1914”, Prof. Adeboye also acknowledged other notable authors whose publications could be linked to Emeritus Professor Hopkins’ researches especially in the History and chronological growth of African Economy and Economics.
She challenged participants and researchers to channel their efforts towards reconfiguring and retelling a better and more compelling story of Africa, its huge economic potentials which predates the colonial era and the exponential growth devoid of colonial influence.
The Lead Speaker at the Roundtable which held at the Faculty of Arts Boardroom was Distinguished Professor Ayodeji Olukoju, he commended Emeritus Professor Anthony Gerald Hopkins for providing the earliest accounts of Lagos Business Groups, Enterprises and Entrepreneurs in Lagos.
In his presentation which he titled, “All History is Local”, Prof. Olukoju gave a chronological account of the honouree’s academic pilgrimage which he heralded with his Ph.D. thesis titled “An Economic History of Lagos, 1880–1914”.
He particularly showered encomiums on Emeritus Professor Hopkins for unearthing the first African businessman to offer the government a loan facility, tracing how merchants across different countries who were in Lagos, used various innovations to transform financial insolvency into huge business opportunities and the evolution of currencies before, during and after colonization through his researches and publications.
The Professor of History buttressed the importance of indigenous history in the study of Commerce, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa, one which he said cannot be done without reference to the scholarly feats of Emeritus Professor Anthony Gerald Hopkins.
In his remarks, the honouree, Emeritus Professor Anthony Gerald Hopkins was full of gratitude to the University of Lagos and the host, Faculty of Arts for the Roundtable. He also lauded the sense of hospitality, humour and friendship, one which he said he has always enjoyed right from his first visit and stay in Nigeria which dates back to 1968.
Emeritus Professor Hopkins gave thumbs up to Distinguished Professor Ayodeji Olukoju for leveraging on his studies in the Economic history of Lagos and Africa as well as other intellectual works. He described this as a challenge to other scholars and researchers with a view to ensuring a more detailed and robust understanding and appreciation of the historical evolution and growth of business and trades in Lagos and how Lagos metamorphosed into Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre which it is today.
Born in February 1938, Emeritus Professor Anthony Gerald Hopkins is a British historian specialising in the Economic History of Africa, European Colonialism, and Globalization.
He is Emeritus Smut Professor of Commonwealth History at the University of Cambridge, an Emeritus Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge and a fellow of the British Academy.
Emeritus Professor Hopkin authored the famous 474 paged “An Economic History of West Africa” which was published by the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies in 1973.
The publication is still being rated as quintessential in the studies of Business, Commerce and Trade in Lagos and Africa as a whole.