“If you condemn the whole of your culture, you are a stupid idiot. If you praise everything, you are a compound fool,” said Professor Sophie Oluwole
Oluwole was the first doctorate degree holder in philosophy in Nigeria. She was a practitioner of Yoruba philosophy.
She was born on May 12, 1935, to Timothy Ogiemare Aloba Egbarevba, in the town of Igbara-oke. Despite being born and raised in a Yoruba town and having an excellent grasp of Yoruba culture and language, Oluwole was ethnically Edo and from Benin City.
In 1953, she enrolled at the Women Training College in Ilesa, where she finished with a class IV certificate in 1954. With this excellent result, she became a qualified teacher.
She ultimately decided to complete her college education at the University of Lagos in 1967,
where she decided to study philosophy instead of English, allegedly because of the reputation of Professor Wole Soyinka.
Following obtaining her first degree in 1970, she was employed at UNILAG for a time as an assistant lecturer in 1972
and went on to complete her PhD at the University of Ibadan, making her the first to hold a doctorate degree in philosophy.
Oluwole taught African philosophy for six years between 2002 and 2008 at the University of Lagos. At a time, she also served as the
first female Dean of Student Affairs at the same institution.
Oluwole’s teachings and works are generally attributed to the Yoruba school of philosophical thought, which was ingrained in the cultural and religious beliefs (Ifá) of the various regions of Yorubaland.
She synthesized the Orisha Orunmila with the teachings of Socrates. These two thinkers, representing the values of African and Western traditions, are two of Oluwole’s biggest influences, and she compares the two in her book Socrates and Orunmila.
She died in the early hours of December 23, 2018, aged 83. She was survived by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.