Nigeria’s First Geographer, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Dies At 90 


One of  Nigeria’s erudite scholars and a Professor of Geography, Akin Mabogunje, is dead, aged 90.

A niece to the eminent scholar, Temilola Visser-Mabogunje, broke the news of his demise via her Twitter handle on Thursday.

Temilola wrote: “My darling uncle, Professor Akin. L. Mabogunje, is no more: 18 October 1931 to 4 August 2022. He left us early this morning. A great man is gone. Brother, our hearts are broken but you will forever remain in our hearts. Temilola for the Mabogunjes.”

He was the first African president of the International Geographical Union. In 1999, he was the first African to be elected as a Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences. In 2017, he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the Vautrin Lud Prize.

In 1968, Mabogunje wrote Urbanization in Nigeria, about urbanization and state formation. In the book, Mabogunje argued that the existence of specialists is not sufficient to cause urbanization. Mabogunje described three “limiting conditions” which are additionally required: a surplus of food production, a small group of powerful people to control the surplus and maintain peace, and a class of traders or merchants who can provide materials to the specialists.

He was the chairman of Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy and mentor to its founder Tunji Olaopa.

The deceased, who hailed from Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, marked his 90th birthday on 18 October, 2021.

He was a lecturer at the University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State, until 1981, when he retired, and established PAI Associates, and later Development Policy Centre. He did all these in partnership with his friend and colleague, Ojetunji Aboyade.

His works were said to have focused on contemporary geographical issues of rural-urban migration, urbanisation, development and environmental challenges facing Nigeria and Africa.

An associate of Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr Mabogunje was said to have served both the university and Nigeria in various capacities including his contributions to the creation and beautification of the country’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

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