Profiles

Harvard Professor Jacob Kehinde Olupona:
A Towering Figure in His Field

This article is the cover story of the fall 2008 issue of
Ameridreams magazine.
By Eve Kushner


According to a proverb of the Yoruba culture in Nigeria, whoever leaves the security of home will take along the cloak of shame. As the teaching has it, once you move away from home, you’ll become vulnerable to all sorts of bad treatment. You shouldn’t expect affection anywhere. No one will know who you are or what your background is. Even if your father was a king, nobody has written that on your forehead, so people will view you as they wish.

So says Jacob Kehinde Olupona, a 57-year-old professor who teaches African and African-American Studies and religion at Harvard University and who has made a name for himself by focusing on African religious traditions.

Olupona grew up in Nigeria, completed undergraduate studies at the University of Nigeria in 1975, received master’s and doctoral degrees from Boston University in the early 1980s, moved back to Nigeria, and then immigrated to the United States in 1990 for professional reasons.

“It’s been a rough road,” he says of his experiences as an immigrant. As he explains, it’s difficult to live “in a culture that always second-guesses you, in a culture that doesn’t really think you’re good enough until you’re able to prove it.”

To tolerate these realities, he has relied on the wisdom of his culture, which tells him that nothing about his journey will be easy and that he therefore has to work all the harder.

Hard work has brought him success in spades. Olupona is the author or editor of eight books, including the 2007 work African Immigrant Religions in America (co-edited with Regina Gemignani), which examines the religious practices of the estimated one million Africans who have immigrated to the United States over the past 40 years. Both Harvard and the University of Edinburgh have recognized him for his intellectual contributions by awarding him honorary degrees. And in 2007, he received the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award, an honor based on his contributions to the humanities. Olupona received this award personally from Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s president.

Jacob Olupona, receiving the Nigerian National
Order of Merit Award in 2007 from
Nigerian president Umaru Yar’Adua.

Over the years, he has received no shortage of prestigious grants, including ones from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, Davis Humanities Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the Getty Foundation. In 2000, the Ford Foundation gave the University of California, Davis (where Olupona taught at the time) a generous grant for his research on what would become African Immigrant Religions in America. That grant launched Olupona into the national spotlight, by some accounts.

It seems that he has become the media go-to person on issues of religion in world affairs, particularly in relation to Africa. The Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, and Dallas Morning News have all interviewed and quoted him. Olupona’s perspectives became especially valuable to the media when Francis Arinze, a Nigerian cardinal, stood a good chance of becoming pope. Olupona was again in demand when the consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire sparked bitter controversy in the worldwide Anglican community.

The proverbial cloak of shame must be in tatters by now.

Early Life in Nigeria

Olupona and a twin brother were born on February 5, 1951 in the Nigerian state of Ondo. About a year later, the brother died of sickle-cell anemia. Their parents had already lost all their other children to sickle-cell anemia. That disease is quite common in Nigeria, as is the incidence of twins. In fact, the Yoruba-speaking part of Nigeria has the highest rate of twin births in the world: about 45 twins per 1,000 births, versus an average of 4 in 1,000 births worldwide.

Yoruba culture views twins as sacred and as endowed with special powers. A cultural code dictates what twins’ names will be, regardless of gender. The firstborn twin receives the name Taiwo, which means “having the first taste of the world.” The other becomes Kehinde, which means, “arriving after the other.” Despite the death of his twin, Jacob Kehinde Olupona has a permanent status as a twin in Yoruba culture.

Traditionally, Yoruba craftspeople have carved wooden figurines called ere ibeji, pairs of figurines in honor of “departed” twins, as Olupona puts it. He remembers growing up with such a statuette in his house, an image that represented his dead brother and that also served to remind Olupona of his own special identity as a twin.

M. Stoll and G. Stoll, authors of the 1980 book Ibeji, wrote the following about Yoruba culture: “It is believed that twins are able to bestow happiness, health and prosperity upon their family. However, since they can also bring about disaster, disease and death, they will be treated with all due respect, loving and care. Their upbringing is therefore far more permissive than that of other children.” Olupona concurs with this assessment.

Olupona believes his status as a twin gave him a heightened awareness of his culture and a special perch from which to analyze it. He explains, “Because I was raised observing certain taboos and certain practices as a twin, that enabled me to appreciate the importance of culture and to understand why culture is so important to one’s identity and one’s being.”

His observations filled him with curiosity about how cultures work, a curiosity that drives his professional inquiries today. At the time of this writing in summer 2008, he was preparing a paper about twins for a November meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Being a twin, he says, “enables me to be very inquisitive and to raise questions and try to find answers to some of these questions, related to the culture of twins.”

Eventually, Olupona acquired two sisters and a brother. A bevy of relatives (including their grandmother) helped the parents rear the four kids in Ute, a town in the cultural zone of Owo. According to African tradition, Olupona says, the more people who bring up a child, the better. Like many Africans, he regarded all these relatives as his mothers and fathers. His language, Yoruba, doesn’t even have words for “aunt” and “uncle.” For a long time, he believed his illiterate, childless, and extremely traditional great-aunt to be his biological mother, even though his actual mother was very much in the picture, too.

Religious Underpinnings

His biological father was a prominent Anglican priest. And when Olupona began to study religion as a young man, his family expressed hopes that he would follow his father into the priesthood. Olupona refused, which didn’t go over well.

“I don’t think I’m cut out for the priesthood,” he explains. “I’m very critical of the Anglican Church. I think my Church is a little bit hypocritical. There are a lot of things I would like to see them do that they have not done. I want them to be more attuned to the problems of the people.” When it comes to massive problems in Africa, such as governmental corruption, “I don’t want them to be passive about it. They have to make themselves more relevant to society. And I’ve not seen that.”

Jacob Olupona with his parents at his graduation from
Boston University.

Although he still worships as an Anglican and has never felt tempted to practice any indigenous African religions, Olupona feels intellectually pulled toward those religions. He has studied and written about African spirituality and ritual practices, spirit possession, Pentecostalism, Yoruba festivals, animal symbolism, and more.

He says his goal in these studies is to understand, interpret, and appreciate a part of the culture that has been marginalized and abused. He doesn’t consider his work on indigenous religions to be any kind of preservation effort, because one can’t preserve a religion as if it were a museum object. But he does hope that his efforts to bring African indigenous religions to the forefront will help spark a revival of culture and tradition in Africa. In fact, he believes this revival has already begun to happen.

In some ways, he doesn’t find it incongruous to immerse himself professionally in indigenous religions while worshiping as an Anglican. For instance, he says he wholeheartedly believes Yoruba ideas about his specialness as a twin—even though those ideas originated in a religion he does not practice. “I was born into it,” he says of his culture, so “of course” he believes. “I think with those kinds of worldviews, you reconcile the two,” he explains. “One is cultural. One is religious.” And somehow they come together, he says. “My upbringing reflected both traditions.”

In other ways, however, practicing Christianity has been problematic for him. “There’s a conflict between my Christian identity and my Africanness,” Olupona says. “Intellectually, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of African indigenous religion. I don’t practice it, because I’m a Christian, but I appreciate it, and I know how important it is. And at times I feel like, if I were able to get hold of those missionaries who came and converted Africans, I would feel like squeezing them to death, because they have deprived the people of their own spiritual resources and left them confused. The African worldview is still very important and very central to life, to existence, to identity.” By denying Africans this worldview, Olupona says, missionaries created “people who are caught between these two worlds.” Their confusion is a massive problem in Africa today, he feels. “Not everybody is able to resolve it.”

Western missionaries first arrived in Africa in the 15th century, but real conversion occurred in the 19th century. Centuries later, the West continues to create conflicts in Africa, says Olupona. In his view, the spread of Western ideas and culture in Africa poses a major threat to Africans’ ethnic identity. He cites the detrimental impact of globalization on African indigenous religion, music, dance, and drumming, among other cultural assets. As Western culture steamrolls its way into Africa, Olupona says, “It’s driving local cultures into oblivion. It’s driving them out of their space. So people have less and less appreciation of the importance of their own traditional culture. And ultimately it’s affecting their identity. If you lose that, then you lose your mind. You cease to become a human being in your own local context. You are betwixt and between. You are a permanently liminal object. You don’t belong here, you don’t belong there. That’s not good.”

The Challenges of Immigrating from Africa

Africans inevitably carry these conflicts with them when they immigrate to the United States. And once they arrive, they face new identity struggles. According to Olupona, African immigrants wrestle with a double dilemma: being black and being African.

He explains, “A number of Africans who come here have no understanding of American society. And they have no understanding of African-American culture and society.” African immigrants, he says, may not even know much about the history of slavery. They typically respond, he says, by condemning the African-American community “for not doing this, not doing that.”

Then Africans “settle down” and come to understand more, Olupona says. But at that point, “They become more agitated than even black Americans when it comes to issues of race. They do not accept that people want to see them as inferior. They know they’re not. They know they’re highly competitive. And they don’t want to be put in places that they know are too demeaning for them. So they attempt to fight back.”

Olupona has heard criticisms of Africans as “passive” to issues of race. “That’s not true,” he insists. “Once they understand it, some of them cannot even cope with it. They think it’s too much.” Some move back to Africa.

Of course, he notes, many Africans are living in the United States purely as economic refugees. As soon as the situation back home improves, they return to Africa.

Other Africans stay in the United States and excel, he says, “because they come with the ethic of working hard and not allowing little disappointments to distract them.” Africans draw on a good deal of confidence, he believes, and that helps them cope with the challenges.

Dueling Identities

As for his own experience of living in the United States, where he is a dual citizen, Olupona has a mixed reaction. He says he definitely has positive feelings about the United States. He likes how each generation of Americans works to build the country for future generations. He also likes the sense that if you work hard in this country, you can make it. He even admires the patriotism that runs so strong in Americans that it drives them to behavior that he finds otherwise inexplicable, such as electing George W. Bush to a second term.

Most of all, he likes how Americans truly believe in bringing about change through the democratic process. In Nigeria, says Olupona, “There’s a strong philosophical feeling that there’s going to be change, that no condition is permanent.” And yet the reality is that in Nigeria, “They don’t allow democracy to prevail. And that becomes very frustrating for people.”

Jacob and Dupe Olupona at their 1977 wedding in
Ile-Oluji, Nigeria.

Aside from American politics, however, he feels little connection to U.S. culture. “I’m very traditional. I’m very Yoruba. And I have not changed that,” says Olupona, who hopes to retire in Nigeria.

“Becoming an American doesn’t mean that I should do away with my culture,” he says emphatically. “Culture is important. If you do away with your culture, you are finished. You are done.” Although he says he refrains from passing judgment on American culture, he makes it clear that he enjoys his way of life as a Yoruba. “And I don’t want anybody to take it away from me,” he says.

Worked up about an issue that has clearly bothered him over the years, he poses a series of questions so impassioned that a listener wouldn’t dare to answer them: “Does that mean that that will stop me from taking part in the American dream? Does it mean it should stop me from being an American? Does it mean it should stop me from understanding what America’s all about?” He adamantly answers these questions in one fell swoop: “Of course not!”

It might seem as if he faces intolerable conflicts. After all, he’s living in a country while keeping its culture at arm’s length. Though he doesn’t plan to live here permanently, he has spent nearly half his life in the United States.

He believes, though, that conflict is a way of life for every human being. “There’s always conflict,” he explains. “We are constantly resolving conflicts in our day-to-day existence. And we are adjusting to situations in which we find ourselves as we move on in life. Life would be meaningless without conflict.”

When an immigrant rears children in the United States, there’s certainly enormous potential for conflicts to surface. Which culture and language should take center stage?

Olupona and his wife, who married in 1977, have three daughters born in 1977, 1979, and 1981, and a son born in 1984. The first and last child were born in Nigeria, but all are dual citizens of Nigeria and the United States.

Olupona says he reared his kids in both Nigerian and American ways. He speaks Yoruba with them and feels that it’s imperative for them not to forget their culture. They should take seriously any aspects of Yoruba culture that are relevant to life, he says. But at the same time, “They’re in America, and I know they’re going to live here, so it’s important for them to know what it means to be an African in America.” He and his wife want the children to extract whatever is good from American culture and to drop the rest.

All the children have thrived academically and professionally. The first is a psychiatrist, the second is a lawyer in a law firm, the third attends Stanford Law School, and the fourth just graduated from UC Davis.

The Olupona family at the 2008 graduation of Babajide Olupona.

 

Heaps of Professional Success

Work has determined the course of Olupona’s life. If you ask him why he has made various decisions along the way, the answer will likely involve his academic career.

Take, for instance, his decision to pursue graduate studies in the United States. Although many Africans who study abroad do so in England, he avoided that path, because he determined the British doctoral system to be too narrowly focused. A U.S. doctorate covers a lot more ground, giving students exposure to a wider range of subjects, he feels. In the United States, doctoral candidates have the opportunity to synthesize multiple areas of study and to grasp connections between disciplines. This appealed immensely to Olupona.

After completing a doctorate in the history of religions in 1983, he returned to Nigeria, becoming assistant professor and then associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at what is now Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife. Nevertheless, he seems to have left Nigeria at nearly every opportunity; between 1987 and 1989, he took fellowships and research positions in Birmingham, England; Amherst, Massachusetts; and Bayreuth, Germany. Finally in 1990, he decided he could no longer tolerate the economic and political climate in Nigeria. “Lots of Nigerian intellectuals and academics left,” he recalls, because the government had imposed “draconian economic measures” on its citizens. Many serious academics went to Europe so they could do their work.

Olupona instead moved to the United States, hoping to work productively and publish his research for a year before returning to Nigeria. But, he says, “The situation at home didn’t improve, so I decided to stay put.” Meanwhile, at that time in the United States, new opportunities emerged for studying African religions.

Up till then, he says, African Studies programs had focused on political science, history, and the arts, not on religion. But around 1990, African-Americans seeking new spiritual possibilities began taking an interest in African religions, including the Afro-Cuban religion Santería and the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé. As African religions gained prominence in the United States, African Studies scholars who wanted to examine the effect of the African diaspora began taking a greater interest in such religions.

For the next 16 years, Olupona lived as a professional nomad, serving as visiting professor or senior fellow at Smith College in Amherst, Massachusetts; Harvard University; Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Florida International University in Miami. But he primarily taught at UC Davis.

Anthonia Kalu, professor and chair of the Department of African American and African Studies at Ohio State University, met Olupona through the African Studies Association, where both are members. As a fellow Nigerian in academia, she is well aware that Olupona has faced many battles on his road to success, including heavy workloads. Maintaining that this problem plagues foreign professors, Kalu recalls that at UC Davis, Olupona had to venture far outside his area of expertise—religion. To teach the introductory course on Africa, she says, he needed “a broad knowledge of the continent (54 sovereign nations) and in several disciplines—geography, history, health (including HIV-AIDS), arts, architecture, religion, and so on.” Teaching such a wide range of subjects required extensive research and preparation. He also had to squeeze this plethora of material into a relatively short time frame, given the semester system. Kalu muses that competently teaching such classes brings foreign professors near the “breaking point.”

Moreover, she notes, “When one is as determined to do well as Olupona has been over the years, speaking up usually means more committee work” and more of pretty much everything. For years, Olupona served as the first president of the African Association for the Study of Religions. And that added significantly to his workload, she says, as he guided the fledgling organization to success and recognition, enabling members to publish, get tenure, and obtain promotions. Olupona has served on the editorial boards of three influential journals, which has meant yet more work.

In 2006, Harvard hired Olupona to joint positions as professor of African and African-American Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and professor of religion at the Divinity School.

Kalu views this Harvard triumph as far too long in coming. “Everyone is making it sound as if they had always known that he would end up at Harvard,” she says. Instead, she can’t help seeing it as delayed recognition: “The appointment to Harvard is a bit late, not because of time but because of his vast contributions to his field–African religions. He has worked hard in his field, and I just happen to think that the recognition could have come in earlier.”

Despite the delays (or perhaps because of them), Olupona quickly established himself at Harvard. Just four months after arriving there, he became chair of the Harvard University Committee on African Studies. He is working to turn the committee into a world-class center for African Studies.

A Towering Figure in His Field

His peers consider him a towering figure in his field. “I think of him as the quintessential scholar in African Studies,” says Kalu, who cites his hard work and his passion for his subjects.

This passion becomes evident whenever Olupona brings up “reverse missionaries,” a term he coined and a topic he explored in African Immigrant Religions in America. Whereas the West once evangelized Africa, Olupona now sees ample evidence that Africans have made great inroads with their own stated goals of evangelizing the Western hemisphere. In the United States, he says, “African churches are everywhere. There are African mosques. African indigenous religion is spreading.” He notes that the United States now has shrines and temples related to African indigenous religions. “Yoruba religion is a big thing in America today.” He says that in all major cities, including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Boston, as well as in some small towns, “African spirituality is vividly present.”

He takes special interest in Oyotunji Village, a utopian Yoruba community that sprouted up near Charleston, South Carolina. This is perhaps the best example of a phenomenon in which African-Americans, Latinos, and Caucasians have joined together to build a community that’s reflective of the African past. He says that such communities also exist in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Colleagues admire that he has drawn ample attention to religious practices that the world has long overlooked. Adela de la Torre is professor of Chicana/o Studies and director of the Center for Public, Policy, Race, Ethnicity and Gender at UC Davis. Having known Olupona for six years, she comments, “His impact on his field is legendary, as he is one of the first scholars to have brought indigenous and traditional religions on an equal footing with Western religions,” including Christianity and Islam. She calls this “an amazing accomplishment,” explaining that it’s difficult to elevate any indigenous culture, given three things: “the fact that their numbers are relatively low, the remoteness of these communities, and the inherent bias the West has against non-white groups.”

De la Torre says she also marvels at the “rare facility” with which Olupona “reaches across disciplinary boundaries, extracting the type of pertinent information that’s relevant for the issue at hand. His research issues are always leap years ahead of his peers,” because he understands how behavioral-cultural, spiritual, and psychological factors intersect with a given problem. Noting his capacity to have both an insider and outsider approach to issues, she comments, “Few scholars have this capacity, few can cross disciplinary backgrounds to bridge these debates, and few can tie these issues together intellectually so that those of us from other disciplines can benefit from this type of work. Jacob can!”

Another colleague of Olupona’s concurs that his interdisciplinary talents have wide-ranging benefits. Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome is professor of political science at Brooklyn College, which is part of the City University of New York. A Nigerian immigrant who met Olupona at annual meetings of the African Studies Association, Okome considers Olupona a friend and mentor. She comments that his work has shown the intersections between religion and other forms of identity, including ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, age, and sexuality. “I have learned from his analysis of the interplay between gender, religion, and power,” says Okome, who teaches African and Women’s Studies, as well as political science.

An Academic Warrior for Social Justice

Masterful at making connections between ideas and fields of study, Olupona also apparently excels at making connections with people. Colleagues and former students across the board mention how much he has supported their professional endeavors, particularly by reading in-progress manuscripts, serving as a mentor, writing letters of recommendation, and doing tenure reviews. Okome notes, “He has inspired me to work harder and to seek more and better opportunities to showcase my work. He has always been accessible in a very altruistic manner. This is very rare among scholars, and is one of Professor Olupona’s best characteristics.”

Kalu cites many of the same qualities and habits. She comments that Olupona “knows how to reach for the best in every situation and in everyone he meets.” And she says he “always knows the next question to ask about my research and professional life.”

His helpfulness extends beyond colleagues in the United States. By all accounts, he has tried to ameliorate Nigeria’s “brain drain” by helping many young Nigerian scholars obtain scholarships, fellowships, and teaching positions in Africa and in other parts of the world. To mitigate the “book famine” in Nigeria, Olupona also contributes books to the libraries of religion departments at some Nigerian universities.

In 1984, David Olugbenga Ogungbile was an undergraduate at what is now called Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, and he took classes from Olupona. Ogungbile recalls, “He encouraged most of the undergraduate students that he taught to pursue graduate studies. There were times when he gave them his own money to obtain graduate admission forms, even when those students did not think along those lines.”

Jacob Olupona in a rare
moment of leisure.

Ogungbile speaks of Olupona in the most glowing terms possible, even as “an angel in human form.” After Olupona’s passionate teaching caught Ogungbile’s attention, the young man patterned himself after Olupona. Ogungbile explains, “I was attracted not only to his passionate teaching of courses in the Department of Religious Studies but also to his humane character. I appreciated his ways of life, and I started to understudy him. I read most of his published works, took most courses that he offered, and followed him to fieldwork. I learned the art of fieldwork research from him!” Ogungbile decided to do postgraduate studies in Ile-Ife, concentrating his research in comparative studies of religion, which was also Olupona’s area of specialization. Olupona served as supervisor for the young man’s master’s thesis. Now Ogungbile is senior lecturer in comparative religion and African religions at Obafemi Awolowo University, as well as a fellow at Harvard in the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

Ogungbile says of his mentor, “He has a great passion as a citizen of the universe who believes that development is a possibility for everywhere and everybody.”

Olupona particularly strives to help his colleagues advance when he perceives that racism has blocked their progress. At such times, he swiftly and decisively comes to their defense. De la Torre has frequently experienced this side of Olupona. She recalls, “When I was struggling at UC Davis with a type of institutional racism that profoundly affected me, Jacob intuitively understood the problem at hand and quickly approached the dean, challenging her ethical standing on a critical issue.”

De la Torre also cites an episode from the recent past, when UC Davis selected a new dean: “Jacob was on the search committee, and one of the finalists was an African/African-American male. The committee clearly was not disposed to considering him as a candidate, and they began dismissing his experience and scholarly work in favor of a white woman candidate who was not as competitive. Jacob immediately challenged the institutional racism with no uncertain terms and caused the committee to clearly reflect on their bias. Unfortunately, the African/African-American man was not hired. Nevertheless, Jacob always—and I mean always—challenges the dismissive and disrespectful comments made by colleagues who clearly do not want to accept their own biases and racism,” says de la Torre. “He is fearless when he perceives a gross injustice due to race, class, or gender. He will call a spade a spade and not back down. He is perhaps one of the most courageous faculty members I have ever met in academia (and I have been an academic tenured in three institutions for over 20 years).”

When it comes to Olupona, she says, “He is and will always be the classic academic warrior for social justice because of his color, heritage, and his own intellectual understanding of the depth of discriminatory treatment in the academy.” De la Torre adds, “People respect Jacob, as they know that his honesty and ethics are beyond reproach. They also know that he will exercise his influence in order to make the world a better place, despite discomfort by those aligned with the status quo.”

9 Responses to “Harvard Professor Jacob Kehinde Olupona:
A Towering Figure in His Field”

  1. Dorcas Akintunde Says:

    Eve, thanks for this detailed life history of Prof. Olupona. He is my academic mentor and I owe my success in the academic world to him. He is a respectable Prof not only in Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, but also at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan.
    Dorcas

  2. Chris Arimah Says:

    I know you. We were students together at the University Of Nigeria Nsukka. In fact, I campaigned for you when you ran for the secretary of the Students Union.
    Glad to see you are doing great. Continue to be blessed.

  3. oluwatoyin Akinwande Says:

    Nice sir to see your profile. Ajimatanrareje was just talking to me about you.
    I was @ Gboluji with you. Hope all is well with you and your family.
    Have a wonderful weekend sir
    Toyin

  4. saba ace Says:

    thanks for this detailed life history of Prof. its very helpful for everyone

  5. movers in los angeles Says:

    Nice sir to see your profile. Ajimatanrareje was just talking to me about you

  6. saida Says:

    He is fearless when he perceives a gross injustice due to race, class, or gender

  7. Ton Franklin Says:

    Inspiring! I just saw a special on PBS on the Yoruba Religion, was moved to find out more, and ended up on this page. What a wonderful ending to an evening of discovery.

    Ron Franklin
    Toronto, Canada

  8. Eve Kushner Says:

    Thanks so much for the wonderful note!

  9. Gabriel Oyewo Says:

    I came across Professor Jacob Olupona when I was a Master’s student in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife when I came around for his birthday in 2011. I had previously heard about him from my mentor, who is incidentally his own disciple in academics. I appreciate his efforts towards raising a generation of reputable academics like himself. He is a father to many in all ramifications.

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