Akin Mabogunje

Professor Mabogunje in the '60s
Prof. Akin Mabogunje, c.1967. Photo: Rockfeller Archive Centre

Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje ; Professor of Geography and first African elected foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences, in the line of Charles Darwin and Martin Luther King Jnr. The don, popularly known as the Father of Geography in Africa, have published topics on, and is known internationally for his research in global security, social policy, and the humanities[i]. Mabogunje served in every government since the First Republic, aside from that of General Sani Abacha. He was the chairman of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and he was appointed as chairman, Lagos Mega-City Development Authority by President Obasanjo, friend who accorded him respect. Mabogunje’s long career excluded politics, yet interestingly, it was in the Action Group that he caught his teeth in public engagements[ii]. He was involved in the development of Abuja Nigeria capital city, but recorded no success with the Lagos Megacity Project which he chaired. Mabogunje believed that for progress in Nigeria, the land tenure system needs to be reformed; that there should be easy access to land to raise capital, and that local government area authority is meant to be the closest to the people.

Born October 18, 1931 in Kano, Mabogunje was educated at Ibadan Grammar School, 1943-48; University of Ibadan, 1949-53; and University College, London, 1954-55. He was the first in Nigeria when he became professor of Geography. He was dean, Faculty of Social Science, University of Ibadan, 1968-70; Pro-Chancellor and chairman, Ogun State University Council, 1982; Special Adviser, National Census Board, 1973-75[iii]. Akin Mabogunje was a contemporary of novelist, Mabel Segun at Ibadan, and he is a lifelong avid reader of novels[iv].  He got married to an equally cerebral Titilola Ogunmekan in 1957 and they raised five children, two of whom are in the academic and two engineers with one who studied economics.
[i] Punch May 17, 2017

[ii] Punch December 13, 2015

[iii] TELL October 20, 2003

[iv] The News March 6, 2000

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer