One of Africa’s leading cultural critics and theorists, Molara Ogundipe-Leslie, has died.
Born in 1940 in Lagos to the Ogundipe family from Ijebu-Igbo, an upper-middle class family in the colonial era, Molara died in Ijebu-Igbo at the age of 78.
She was a woman of many firsts. She was the best in her class at the Nigerian Queens School, Ede and the first woman to obtain a First-class (honours) in English at the University College Ibadan, then a College of the University of London. She was at Ibadan with other famous professors of English; Prof Oyin Ogunba of University of Ife fame and Prof Biodun Adetugbo (now late) of the University of Lagos fame.
In addition, she was the first Nigerian woman to obtain a PhD in Narratology from Leiden University in The Netherlands. She is survived by two daughters and many grandchildren.
Molara Ogundipe-Leslie had a stellar career in academics, scholarship, creative writing, and gender-democracy and social activism. For many years in the 1980s, she was a columnist and member of the Editorial Board of The Guardian and briefly in her post-retirement years a columnist for The Nation in Lagos.
Apart from being one of the most prolific Nigerian critics, with several peer-reviewed academic papers and major publications in many genres, Professor Ogundipe-Leslie is one of Nigeria’s most citable theoreticians who have impacted on gender scholarship not only in Africa but globally.
Her most cited theoretic work is Recreating Ourselves: African Women and Critical Transformations. Her theory of Stiwanism (Social Transformation in Africa Including Women) is viewed in critical circles as one of the most original works on understanding feminism, in general, the nuances of theorizing the social and economic goals of gender democracy in specific cultures and societies.
Professor Ogundipe-Leslie had taught in many Nigerian and overseas universities: Ibadan, Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University), University of Port Harcourt, Legon University in Ghana, Northwestern University and many other American universities. Her many works include:
Sew the Old Days and Other Poems
Re-Creating Ourselves: African Women & Critical Transformations
Women as Oral Artists
(ed. with Carole Boyce-Davies) Moving Beyond Boundaries. 2 volumes edited with Carole Boyce-Davies
Gender and subjectivity: Readings of “Song of Lawino”. Dissertation Leiden University. Leiden, CNWS, 1999