Prof Abdulrazak Gournah, the Tanzanian academic who won the 2021 Nobel Prize on Literature was a lecturer in Bayero University, Kano throughout the eighties, Intervention has learnt. Some of his students in those days said he taught them courses such as “Studies in Fiction” and “Commonwealth Literature”.
He loved the local delicacies and felt very comfortable in the Kano environment with his Beetle car, it was also learnt.
He left Nigeria in the wake of the impoverishment of the wage system by successive economic policies such as Shagari’s austerity program, Buhari’s commercialism and IBB’s SAP. Thereafter, many expatriate academics left, spreading into Western universities in the UK, Canada and the United States.
The outcome is the in-breeding and the localization of the universities to a level that, in certain universities in Nigeria today, you may find only Muslims or only Christians or just students from one main ethnic group.
Nigerian universities have lost the universal touch in tandem with the university as ‘Universal City’ which is what most universities are in terms of the diversity index. The assumption is that a university made up of one ethnic or religious or ideological orientation is incapable of the kind of conversation that should bring out the sort of ideas that can be game changers
In the case of the Dept of English, apart from Prof Munzali Jibrin, Oba Abdulrahman and a few others, the dominant identity of the staff were expatriates. Most notable were Katherine Frank and Beverly Mark, Mr. and Mrs Gorman, David Jovitt all of them British or West Indians who were based in the West. History was dominated by Britons or Americans such as Philip Shea, John Leavers, Paul Lubeck, (now at the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins in the US) and Murray Last who is currently at the University College London. In Political Science, there were Gavin Williams who went to Oxford, Prof Yakubu Adams from Malawi; Prof Rasheed Mortem from Bangladesh and Yolamu Barongo from Uganda. There were others of different cultural backgrounds but most of them were recruited in the UK by the Ibrahim Halil Bichi VCship. That is the VC who came after the pioneer VC, Dr Mahmud Tukur, the former Minister for Commerce under Buhari military regime in 1983.
Like most other Nigerian universities today, BUK is not of that diversity index anymore.