US Universities Celebrate Olatunji Dare at 70

Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, has commended Professor Olatunji Dare, former chairman of The Guardian’s editorial board and Nigeria’s most celebrated satirist, for “serving as a source of inspiration both in the classroom and in the international journalism and political communities.”

In rejoicing with Mr. Dare on his 70th birthday which was celebrated in Lagos with a public lecture and a festschrift on July 17, Bradley University President, Joanne K. Glasser, described the writer as a “dedicated, respected member of the faculty, representing the university exceedingly well” in all he does.

The famous newspaper columnist and public intellectual, who is an alumnus of the Indiana University, Bloomington, has also been celebrated by his alma mater in the light of the honour done to him in his home country.

Indiana University’s Professor Emerita Christine Ogan, who was on Mr. Dare’s dissertation and research committee at Indiana University, stated on the university’s website that “He was known as Tunji to us, and I’m so glad he’s being honored for his excellent achievements”.

“[Olatunji Dare’s] dissertation was a study of the development of journalism and the selection of news from the wire services (both local and international) for the stories that were included in the domestic newspapers.” Mr. Ogan recalled that Mr. Dare was “an excellent student and an exquisite writer”.

In a letter dated July 31, 2014, congratulating Mr. Dare on his 70th birthday, Bradley’s President, Joanne K. Glasser said: “I hope you had a wonderful time at your 70th birthday celebration in Lagos recently. From the coverage I have seen, it appears that many of the best-known figures from the Nigerian political, media and academic worlds attended to wish you well”.

Mr. Glasser added: “Please know that your friends and colleagues from Bradley University also wish you the best as you celebrate this milestone year in your life. You have long served as a dedicated, respected member of the Slane College of communications and Fine Arts, representing the University exceedingly well in all that you do. Thank you for serving as a source of inspiration both in the classroom and in international journalism and political communities.”

Mr. Dare’s 70th birthday celebration, which was organized by his admirers, was held at the MUSON Center, Lagos , Nigeria on July 17.

The occasion was chaired by former Defence Minister, General Theophilus Danjuma, and attended by governors, political leaders, scholars, media chiefs, and leading public intellectuals.

A lecture was delivered by a media scholar, Professor Kwame Karikari of the University of Ghana, Legon, on “Memories of Censorship: Struggling for Press Freedom in Africa.”

The highlight of the event was the public presentation of a book edited by Wale Adebanwi entitled: “Public Intellectuals, the Public Sphere and the Public Spirit: Essays in Honour of Olatunji Dare.”

Contributors to the book include scholars, media chiefs and activists such as the famous poet, Professor Niyi Osundare, University of Swaziland don, Dr. Adidi Uyo, former Daily Times editor, Dr. Ndaeyo Uko, now of Monash University, Australia, former Concord Managing Director, Dr. Doyin Abiola, former Punch Chairman, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, famous poet, Mr. Odia Ofeimun, editor-in-chief of Premium Times, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, Executive Director of TheNEWS, Mr. Kunle Ajibade, Professor Lai Oso, Mr. Segun Ayobolu, Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo, Dr. Ebenezer Obadare, Mr. Olakunle Abimbola, Dr. Akin Adesokan, and Dr. Sina Odugbemi.

At the event, one of the contributors to the book, university don and famous poet, Professor Niyi Osundare told journalists, “I always call [Olatunji Dare] a long distance runner because he has been in this business since the 1970s and he is still there. He is consistent and tenacious. This is a remarkable achievement in a country in which the life span of integrity is extremely short. In terms of professional competence, Olatunji Dare is there. Also in terms of artistic or stylistic proficiency, I would say that his style is incomparable. I am quite fascinated by his faculty of memory and his power of recall. When he writes on any subject, it is amazing how he manages to establish absolute control over the material.

“As a journalist, I regard him very highly. He has real and masterful control of the language. I read him for content and for style. I have used his writing in many of my stylistic classes, especially when we are dealing with the style of public discourse journalism. He is a writer who takes care about his use of language. Constantly, he comments on the use of language in journalism. This is what I call a meta-journalistic concern, that is, using the language of journalism to comment on journalism itself. Only a journalist who has real control of the language can do that.

“As a public intellectual, Dare contributes to our knowledge of our country and the world virtually every day. We live in a country where illiteracy reigns, where the rulers don’t want us to know because they profit by our ignorance. The function of people like him is that they try to make us know and to put some light in the darkness. He belongs to the class of people who have contributed so much to public discourse in this country in the pursuit of public enlightenment. He is one of those who are committed to the battle against ignorance in the country.”

Professor Dare has been teaching at Bradley since 1996, when he was forced to flee by the murderous regime of General Sani Abacha. He is currently an Editorial Adviser for the Nation newspaper in Lagos, Nigeria.

His numerous prizes include Bradley awards for teaching excellence and excellence in research.

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