It gives me great pleasure to welcome fellow author, Rave Reviews Book Club Member, and friend …
Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko on her 4WillsPublishing blog tour! Joy really is a special lady, who not only has a large heart, she also has a story to tell … Take it away, Joy! 🙂
Life at the University of Lagos (Unilag):
When I was hired as Lecturer II by the University of Lagos in April, 1975, I applied to Radio Nigeria for a transfer to Unilag, but was denied a transfer. My then boss vowed that the only way I could leave was to resign. He was shocked that I could get a job at the University with what he believed was an inadequate qualification. Only God knows what else he did underground to stop my getting the job.
However, my first two years at the University were good. My colleagues were happy to see me join them. I had already made a name for myself as Joy Nwosu, the Voice. Ayo and I teamed up for his and my concerts. Then Akin Euba joined us. He came in already a professor. I believe that was the deal he made for taking him from the University of Ife to the University of Lagos. I was happy when he joined us, and was planning for the great things we could do together. I loved all my colleagues because they were all great men in music; Laz Ekwueme, Ayo Bankole and Akin Euba. I was honored to be among them.
The same year Akin joined the University; rumors started filtering in that I may not be qualified to be a lecturer at the University. These rumors, I learned later were coming from my colleagues at the Radio station. A top professors at the Faculty of Arts started putting pressure on Ayo and Akin to expose me. Laz was considered my mentor, the one instrumental in getting me hired, so he was excluded, but he let me know what was going on.
At the time, we had a wonderful man at the helm of affairs at Unilag, The Vice Chancellor, Professor Ade Ajai, may God bless him. I went to him to complain about the rumors, and to tell him that I was ready to go to the US for my Ph.D. to stop the rumors. By this time, Laz had also become a professor. So Professor Ade Ajai suggested to me that I should do my Ph.D. at Unilag, under the supervision of the two professors of music that we had. Prof. Ekwueme was doubtful about the outcome, but Professor Euba was blunt and did not mince words with me. He told me that he did not believe that I was qualified to do a Bachelor’s degree, how much more a Ph.D. He followed up this claim by going to the Italian Embassy in Lagos with my Italian credentials translated by him, to get the Italian Ambassador in Lagos to agree with his translations, and to sign it as correct. He did not speak Italian, nor did he understand the Italian system of rating their credentials.
I came to know about this because, the Ambassador himself, who knew me quite well because I was a regular performer at the Embassy, sent his driver to Unilag to pick me up and take me to the embassy. There he told me about this man who came to him with a lady, and tried to talk him into signing his translation of my credentials and assessment as correct.
“Of course I refused to sign his papers.” He told me. “I told him that we have a department in Italy that deals with certificate assessments, that he should send his papers there for proper assessment if he really wanted to know the truth about my qualifications. Now, my advice to you is to leave that place if they do not believe in you.”
I left the embassy in shock and determined to follow the Ambassador’s advice. Luck was on my side. It was 1977, and FESTAC was just winding down, when the US embassy in Lagos offered a number of exchange visitor scholarships to some Nigeria artistes, and I was one of them. I took the opportunity of my visit to the US to apply and audition for schools.
Months after I returned from the US, I received a letter of admission to a doctoral program in music education from the University of Michigan. I was aesthetic! I first ran to Professor Ekwueme with my letter. After he read it he asked whether I have shown it to Professor Euba, I said no but that I was going to do so immediately. By this time Professor Euba treated me like a parrier. He will not return my greeting if I greeted him. I knocked at his door, opened and entered. I had a broad smile on my face, and he was scowling at me.
“I want you to see this.” I told him handing him the letter. While he read it I watched his face for reactions. He put the letter down quietly on his table, stood up and offered me his hand and said, “Congratulations colleague.”
I took my letter from his desk, folded it and walked out of his office.
I later learned that the witch hunt on me started from my former boss at Radio Nigeria. They wanted Ayo to be the one to flush me out, but Ayo refused. May his soul rest in peace.
From Mentor to Tormentor
Recently, one of my past students, who now lives in the US, came all the way from Philadelphia to be at my birthday celebration. Her first question to me was, “Ma, why did you leave? We all needed you and you left.”
I gave her a simple answer that time, telling her that I left because there was nothing else left for me to do. My department was scrapped and we were rendered redundant. My colleagues, some younger than me were dead, if I had stayed, I don’t know what would have become of me.
When I returned from Michigan in 1982, I looked forward to a peaceful tenure at my job. My credential wahala had been put to rest. I was also hoping that advancement in my job will be a done deal. I still performed with the Laz Ekwueme choral, but I took time off to set up my band and do my own thing. My work with the choral diminished as my work with my own band increased. I set up a children‘s choir also, and that kept me even more busy, so busy that I stopped singing with the choral.
Laz kicked the door to my office open a day after his choral sang at an embassy without me, and warned me that I was swimming in dangerous water if I missed another of his concerts. There and then I resolved to leave his choral for good. He developed the habit of not knocking at my office door, but kicking it open anytime he wanted to talk to me about his choir.
One time, he told me that I should know that the right hand should wash the left hand for peace to reign. I reminded him that when I returned from Michigan to Nigeria to do my field work, I almost jeopardized my field work because he insisted that I must travel with his choir to Ghana and to different state of Nigeria. I pleaded with him to allow me some time to develop my own credits so that I can be promoted. He told me that he decided who got promoted or not, and that it did not depend on how much credit I can accumulate, but on how well I serve him. My God! I could not reason with the man.
Anyway, I distanced myself from him even further, minded my own business, and worked hard to write and get published. When I thought I was ready to present myself for promotion, I sent in my application, and copies of my work. He laughed at me and responded with a very denigrating memo in which he trivialized all my work, then he personally brought me a copy of his memo, and told me as he left that unless I did as he said, I should forget to ever be promoted.
I read his memo, went home and prayed. I placed the memo on my Bible and asked God to tell me how to respond to it. The next morning I was inspired to write a rebuttal that was so powerful that the then Dean of Arts decided to take up my case. He did and got me promoted. God bless you Prof. Ashiwaju.
With my promotion to Senior Lecturer, the battle ground was drawn between me and my mentor. The morning after the news of my promotion, he came to my office in his usual way, and with a wicked smile on his face told me that it will never happen again, and it never did. I did not wait for it to happen again. In the meantime, the authorities at the university were plotting the scrapping of the department he set up. When they succeeded, I left the country.
Laz could have done great things for music in Nigeria if only he had believed in people. He did not believe that anyone else after him could be called a professor of music in Nigeria. He was so short sighted, because today there are many professors of music, people he blocked from becoming professors for so many years. They had to destroy what he created just to get him out.
Copied from my e-mail
By telling me that it will never happen again, he meant that he will never again allow me to be promoted, and he kept his word. Years later, when I applied for Associate, he got the new Vice Chancellor, the late Professor Adesola, on his side, and that one decided to be on Professor Ekwueme’s side. When I complained to him about how Professor Ekwueme was blocking my progress, he told me to go and do whatever he wanted me to do, and to stop being assertive, that he did not like assertive women. He reminded me that he had four like me in his house. That was the last straw. I decided to leave. I asked for my study leave, which was over-due, and Professor Adesola refuse for me to go, so I went on my knees and prayed for God to help me. Not long after, a colleague ran to my office one morning to tell me that Professor Adesola had embarked on a tour of Europe and America. I quickly ran to the deputy who was acting for him and told him how Professor Adesola did not sign my papers before he left. The deputy looked at my letter, and said, “You are asking for three years, that’s why. If you ask for one year at a time, I will sign it for you. I ran to my office, personally retyped my letter, hurried back to the deputy and he signed for me to leave. I left the very next day. One month after my escape, I received another letter in which Prof. Adesola was furiously ordering me back, and threatening me with dismissal if I did not return. I sent him medical reports on my health to let him know that even if I wanted, I could not return.
I later learned that he took my case to the A&P, Appointments and Promotions, the commission that hires and fires, and tried to get me dismissed. Some colleagues who knew me and saw my name on the list of those to be dismissed, attended the A&P meeting to find out what my crime was. Not satisfied with his excuses, they dismissed the case. After spending the three years that the regulation permitted me, I returned with the plan of spending a year to tidy up things and retire, He refused to give me back my job, so I put in my retirement papers and left for good. I was allowed to retire only three years later, after Professor Adesola was disgraced out of Unilag. I heard that he later died.
Music Professors in Nigerian Universities
I just finished talking to Dr. Mereni who is now a professor of music at Unilag. His professorship was backdated to 2008. He told me that Mosun has retired, and gave me an update on all the other professors.
Professor Tony Mereni
Professor Richard Okafor of Enugu State University is now retired but is on contract with the same university.
Professor Idolor, I did not get his first name, is at Delta State University.
Professors Emeka Mbanugo and Dan Agu are at Nnamdi Azikiwe Univ. Awka.
Professor Onyee Nwamkpa, is at University of Port Harcourt.
My First Shot at becoming a Professor
I knew Vidal was a professor before he retired, I don’t know Adegbite very well, and is Omibiyi still at Ibadan?
You would think that as a woman, she would understand what we women go through at our universities. After twelve years as senior lecturer, I decided to go for full professorship. I applied, and was asked to supply three names and addresses of my referees. I chose her as one of my referees, and went to Ibadan to let her know that she is one of my referees. Mosun snapped at me, and asked me whether it is now usual that candidates should know who their referees are. I knew immediately that I had made a mistake. On the interview day, I saw myself in front of twelve professors, non was a music professor. Ola Rotimi was the one that Laz had suggested to interview me. He was not one of the names I submitted. He sat there and insulted me as much as he liked, and in the end I was told that that was all. No one else asked me any question, it was a farce. This was all towards the end of my years at Unilag, anyway.
After that farce, Laz decided to humiliate me further by putting his wife over me as my supervisor. We came to our departmental meeting one day and he handed us this elaborate time table in which every member of staff were to be supervised. He supervised everybody else, but his wife supervised me. I knew immediately that it was a gimmick, because the very next morning every copy of that time-table was gone. He had gone the night before to remove them from all of our offices. The gimmick was for me to see how little he thought of his wife by using her as an instrument to insult me.
On my Dissertation
There is something I think you should mention in the book. It is about my dissertation. Before I went to Michigan, I did an extensive research on Igbo folktales, with the intention of writing my dissertation on the importance of folktales and folk song in music education. When I arrived Michigan, in my excitement, I mentioned my plan to a fellow student, a Ghanaian, who was there before me, and had been struggling to get his proposal approved. He quickly stole the idea from me. So I had to go looking for another topic. I wanted my studies to have relevance with my culture, so I started praying, asking God to give me a topic. As I was praying, the Lord was pointing me to the huge book by Sachs & Hornbostel on “Instruments of of World. I was then taking courses in Ethnomusicology and so was familiar with the works of these two men.
I started taking a closer look, on their work on African instruments, and discovered that all African instruments were classified as idiophones. I disagreed deeply with this lumping together of instruments from the so-called developing world. But I could not attack Sachs & Hornbostel, giants in world music. So I decided to research how my culture, the Igbo culture, classifies music instruments and it was an eye opening experience. The Lord gave me everything I wrote in that book, it could not have come from me. The findings were such a bombshell that I had to change the Head of my doctoral committee, before I could go on with my dissertation.
As soon as I returned to Nigeria, I lifted the whole classification section of my dissertation and published it with Nigeria Magazine. I wanted my colleagues to see what I discovered. Of course, it did not go down too well with Laz. He quickly told me that Nigeria Magazine was not a scholarly magazine. The same year, African Music Magazine discovered my article, and requested and published it.
After Professor Nketia of Ghana, retired from Pittsburgh, Steve Rhodes came to my office one day and told me that he just returned from one day and told me that he just returned from America, and that Pittsburgh was looking for someone, an African, to replace Nketia. He asked me to apply. I was excited that he believed that I was qualified to go for that position, so I applied. I put Euba down as one of my referees. By then we were on better terms. I also put two of my professors from Michigan as referees. Euba was director of the Center, so I did not believe that he would be interested in the Pittsburgh job. But he was. Behind my back, he applied, and got his friend, the heavy weight Nketia to support him. That is how he got that job. He heard about it from me. I often wondered why Steve did not tell him about that job. I pretty kept to myself at Unilag, so I did not know Professor Adesola very well. I met him only once, and that was when I went to talk to him about the way Laz was treating me. He asked me in and listened to my story. At the end , he looked me up and down, and cursed me right out! That was when he told me that he had four like me at home, asked me to go and do whatever Laz wanted me to do, that he did not like ssertive women who want men to do as they wish, then ended with telling me to get out! After that, I wanted to leave but he would not let me. He wanted me to stay and suffer! That was Laz’s way of putting it. In the end, God intervened. In November, 1996 I was able to escape from them. When I returned after my leave of absence in August 1999, I tried several times to see him to get him to sign for me to start work. Before I returned, he had tried to get me fired, and failed. After trying to see him without success, someone told me that if I went to him office in the evening that I might be able to see him, so I went to his office that evening. I was at his office until 9:00pm that night waiting to see him. He knew I was there but he did not want to see me. About 9:30pm, I heard him ask his attendant whether that stupid woman was still there, when the attendant said yes, he left by the back door. I waited for him to leave. When the attendant came back from seeing him off, he told that oga had gone. “I know”, I told him, and I asked him whether he is sure he had really gone, that he is not still standing somewhere out there. When I got the assurance that he was gone, I left. A few days after that I left Nigeria for good. I just left with no plans whatsoever. I just needed to get away. When the head of your department and your Vice Chancellor team up against you, what option do you have left? It was only after I arrived US, one year later, because I spent a whole year recovering from the trauma I suffered at Unilag, that I started thinking and looking for what to do. Chinwa, poor soul! The last time I was at Unilag, he was still there. That was last year. I don’t know his situation. He joint Unilag with a BA in music, and an MA in Engineering. Because of his piano skills, he dazzled Laz during his interview, and he was appointed. Laz later discovered that his Masters was not in music, and his problem started from there. He remained Lecturer II while I was there and was never promoted beyond that.
I am still asking the Unilag authorities to correct my actual date of retirement, and they are still not decided on how to resolve the matter. You see, when I left in November of 1996, I left on a leave of absence, for which I was entitled to take three years. Because of my problem with the then VC, I could not get a renewal after my first year. I took it all the same, because the regulation allowed me to. The VC tried to get me fired for not returning after one year, and I followed the regulation strictly by sending him my health report. I was in a really bad shape at the time. According to the information I received, the A&P wanted to know what kind of leave I was on. When they heard that it was a leave of absence, they threw his proposal out. After my three years, I returned, but he refused to reinstate me so I left again.
When Professor Ibidapo Obe, the new VC finally awarded me my retirement, they decided to go by the one year leave that I was originally awarded, and not by the three years that I was entitled. I wrote and presented all the documentation to show that I followed the regulation and did not default even by one day after my leave, papers showing that I returned, that I notified the VC of my return, and had no reply whatsoever from him. In other words, I was asking them to start my retirement from November, 1999, and not from November 1997. We are now at an impasse, me waiting for their reply, and they waiting perhaps for my death. I have already instructed my kids that if I die before this is resolved, they should continue to pursue it even at court level. After all the nasty treatment I received, they have to also rub me of my entitlement?
My story is beginning to sound like a soap opera, but that is my story. I lived and survived it only because God was on my side.
For more information on the above, please check out the following:
Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko: The Saga of a Nigerian Female Ethnomusicologist [Kindle Edition]
Godwin Sadoh (Author)
Websites: http://sbpra.com/joylobamijoko/ Mirror of Our Lives …..
http://sbprabooks.com/JoyNwosuLoBamijoko/ Legend of the Walking…
Buy Legend…..from Amazon.Com:
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Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/UhSyMaUz0Uk
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Twitter Handle: @Jinlobify