By Gabriel Dike
Less than three years after he was appointed Professor of English Language at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof Chimdi Maduagwu of the Faculty of Arts recently paid his academic debt when he delivered the 13th Inaugural Lecture for the 2016/2017 academic session.
It is a rule in the university worldwide that every professor must pay such academic debt by delivering an inaugural lecture in his/her field of study.
In the Nigeria University System (NUS) a professor that hasn’t delivered an inaugural lecture in his/her research area, still owes the university and the academic community debt which must be paid.
So it was on November 1 that Prof Maduagwu ‘settled his academic debt’ by delivering the 318th inaugural lecture of UNILAG. After his lecture, the then Vice Chancellor, Prof Rahamon Bello told the gathering that Maduagwu had fulfilled all righteousness and found worthy to be a Professor of English.
The inaugural lecture titled: In the beginning was the word…Then our stories’’ attracted principal officers such as the deputy VC (academic and research) and new VC, Prof Toyin Ogundipe, Prof Folashade Ogunsola, deputy VC (development), Registrar, Dr. Taiwo Ipaye, Bursar, Dr. Lateef Odekunle and Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof Muyiwa Falaye.
Maduagwu acknowledged the academic debt when he said “it is a culture within the academic environment, for accomplished academicians to share their research experiences in their respective disciplines with other colleagues in inaugural lectures.
“I have come to pay a debt in scholarship and I am grateful to all who have also come to witness this payment.”
He continued: When I ruminated on the inaugural lecture and the subject/topic suitable for my discipline, I voyaged into different areas in language, communication, literature and cultural studies. Eventually, I settled for ‘The Word.’ The choice of the word would take me to everywhere I want to go, however I intend to examine it as a uniting force, or the organizing principle of the human imagination.
It is the raw material for all human endeavours because of its invaluable presence in all affairs of humanity. It is the very essence of creation and creativity. It is common (prosaic) and it is common (poetic, if not sublime).’’
The professor of English disclosed the word has been a focal point of great thinkers within and outside this institution. It has occurred in more literatures and that it is on focus again as a subject of his inaugural lecture.
Maduagwu told the gathering that since he became a professor, he is not about to embark on a search for the word but stressed the word is the essence of creation, product of creation and explanation of creation as well as medium of creation.
He stated word always wears a veil of mysteries adding ‘’and no wonder humanity, at all times and in all places has been engrossed with ways through which the mysteries of creation can be unlocked. These mysteries are the major sources of difficulties encountered by humanity as it seeks knowledge of its world through sustained and concerted efforts.’’
In his remark, the then VC, Prof Bello said Maduagwu has fulfilled his academic obligation to the university community stressing it is a challenge to others yet to deliver their inaugural lecture.