Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet, rings true for the exceptional scholar, Dr. Kudus Oluwatoyin Adebayo, who emerged the pioneer winner of the Rahamon Bello Award for Best Ph.D Thesis in African and Diaspora Studies, endowed in the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Nigeria.
Dr. Adebayo, a Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, has set himself apart from the crowd by following the path less travelled in conducting a research entitled, “Migration and Settlement Experiences of Nigerians in Guangzhou, China.” In a conversation with the Communication Unit of the University of Lagos, he shared what motivated him to conduct such a unique research saying:
“I was motivated to do the research for the simple reason that African diasporic experiences have wholly been discussed from outside of Africa, and this is particularly the case within the growing field of “Africans in China” studies.
As a doctoral student at Ibadan, I understood that there would be challenges, from funding to confronting the border crossing which shapes transnational research for a Nigerian-based researcher. Nevertheless, I was fortunate to have a supervisor, Prof Femi O. Omololu that believed in what I had proposed. I was also fortunate to have other researchers at Ibadan Sociology, as well as peers, who felt that the project is important.”
While making the announcement of the award winner and runners-up on Monday, November 30, 2020, the Director of IADS, UNILAG, Professor Olumuyiwa Falaiye, remarked on how exceptional the winning thesis was. He disclosed that the Institute received 29 submissions in total. 21 of which were from different parts of Nigeria, 7 from South Africa and 1 from Cameroon.
According to Prof. Falaiye, the three (3) professionals who assessed all 29 applications did so independently from different parts of the world. It is quite amazing that they all selected exactly the same thesis as the best.
Prof. Falaiye averred that Dr. Adebayo’s thesis was such a good body of work that he appreciated the thoughtfulness put into it and recommended it be published.
Speaking on the essence of his thesis, the winner, Dr. Adebayo explains that it gives:
“the evidence that the diasporisation of Nigerians is underway in China, particularly in Guangzhou, where they have settled increasingly from 2000 onward. Most importantly, the thesis documented the evolution of the Nigerian diaspora in China by tracing how Nigerians congregated as Igbo Ezue in the early period while also uncovering the ways that narratives of early and late arrivals are vital in gauging specific socio-relational dynamics between Nigerians and Chinese people – and within the Nigerian diaspora; a community replete with hidden ethnic political manoeuvring and conflicts that evoke the politics of Nigerian homeland in China.”
Dr. Adebayo expressed his profound gratitude to the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), UNILAG, and the awarding body for the honour. He also expressed his appreciation of his supervisor, home institution and the Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, which he fondly refers to as Ibadan Sociology, for their support throughout his research process.
The First runner up of the award was, Dr. Abiodun M. Bello of the University of Lagos, Nigeria, with thesis titled, “Stylistics of Identity and Ideology in Alter-native Yoruba Music Textuality”, while the second runner up was Dr. Nonzuzo Mbakazi of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, with thesis titled, “Understanding Child Care Choices Amongst Low-income Employed Mothers in Urban and Rural Kwa Zulu-Natal.” Both remarkable researchers received recognition for placing 2nd and 3rd in the overall competition.
Come, Tuesday, December 8, 2020, there will be a formal award presentation ceremony, at the Institute of African & Diaspora Studies, J. P. Clark Building. There, Dr. Adebayo will be presented with a certificate and the cash prize of US $1,000.00, while Dr. Bello & Dr. Mbakazi will receive certificates of recognition as well.
The 11th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Rahamon A. Bello, being a scholar o great repute himself, graciously endows the Best PhD Thesis Award, at IADS. Since its inauguration about 3 years ago, the Institute has strived hard and grown in spades in its conduct of research, teaching and advocacy.
IADS is optimistic that future editions of the Rahamon Bello Award will receive higher applications from across Africa and also provide room for acknowledgement of supervisors of the theses.
Hearty cheers to the award winner and runners-up. Let’s come back stronger next year.