Kenneth Onwuka Dike was born on 17 December 1917. He was a Nigerian educationist, Igbo Nigerian historian and the first Nigerian Vice-Chancellor of the nation’s premier college, the University of Ibadan. During the Nigerian civil war, he moved to Harvard University.
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He was a founder of the Ibadan School that dominated the writing of the History of Nigeria until the 1970s. He is credited with “having played the leading role in creating a generation of African historians who could interpret their own history without being influenced by Eurocentric approaches.”
Born in Awka, eastern Nigeria, Kenneth Onwuka Dike was educated in West Africa, England and Scotland. He attended Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone and also Durham University for his BSc, the University of Aberdeen for his MA, and King’s College London for his PhD.
During the 1960s, as a member of the University of Ibadan’s history department, he played a pioneering role in promoting African leadership of scholarly works published on Africa.
As the head of the organizing committee of the First International Congress of Africanists in Ghana in 1963, he sought for a strengthened meticulous non-colonial focused African research, publication of research in various languages including indigenous and foreign, so as to introduce native speakers to history and for people to view African history through a common eye.
He was the first director of International School Ibadan. In 1965 he was elected chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Ebere Nwaubani argues that Dike was the first modern scholarly proponent of Africanist history.
His publications were a watershed in African historiography. With a PhD from London, Dike became the first African to complete Western historical professional training. At the University College of Ibadan, he became the first African professor of history and head of a history department.
He founded the Nigerian National Archives and helped in the founding of the Historical Society of Nigeria. His book Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta 1830-1885 dealt with 19th-century economics politics in the Niger Delta.
He focused on internal African factors, especially defensive measures undertaken by the delta societies against imperialist penetration. Dike helped create the Ibadan School of African history and promoted the use of oral evidence by African historians.
His publications include the following: Report on the Preservation and Administration of Historical Records in Nigeria (1953), Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta 1930-1890 (1956), A Hundred Years of British Rule in Nigeria (1957), The Origins of the Niger Missions (1958).
Kenneth Dike Library, University of Ibadan
Kenneth Dike Library was founded in 1948 as part of the University of Ibadan academic community. It has over two million academic materials such as books, theses and journals.
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The library was previously known as the Main Library and started out with about 3600 volumes of book that was transferred from the library at Yaba Higher College. The Dike library was the first professionally managed library in the country manned with a professional librarian and reference and research services.
Upon the establishment of University College, Ibadan, a makeshift structure built with a concrete foundation and wooden walls and shutters temporarily housed volumes of books transferred from Yaba College in Lagos.
This structure went on to serve as the site of the library until 1954 when a new library building designed by Drew and Fry was ready to open. The university was also developed with 18000 volumes of diverse subjects from the Henry Carr Collection, it also received items from the Herbert Macaulay Collection.
Other significant gifts included donations from Lady Lane, the wife of Allen Lane, the British Directorate of Overseas Survey, Frederick Montague Dyke, the Church Missionary Society and a granddaughter of MacGregor Laird.
In 1950, an ordinance made the library a repository of publications published in Nigeria.
Special collections: Africana collection
The library has an African oriented collection, a closed access reference point for scholars on Nigerian history. Developed from the early donations to the library which had a strong focus on Nigerian and African materials. Donations by Carr, Macaulay, Edward Reginald Jerrim helped make it an important repository in Nigeria.
In 1950, the library became a depository of published books from Nigeria. The collection includes rare Arabic manuscripts, manuscripts and books, newspapers clips, photographs and records and archives of materials from the colonial era and government reports.
Kenneth Dike died on the 26th of October 1983.
Adegoke, Adekunbi (1973-10-01). “The Evolution of Libraries in Nigeria”. International Library Review.
Featured Image Source: King’s College London
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