Doctoral student profiled in this week’s “unique student” feature
Abayomi Okunowo grew up in the Yoruba Tribe in southwest Nigeria — the “giant of Africa” as he labeled it.
The Yoruba is one of the three main ethnic groups of Nigeria, the other two are the Hausa and Ibo.
He first arrived in Boulder last year. Adeleke Adeeko, former chairman of the Department of Comparative Literature and Humanities, encouraged him to come.
Adeeko was offered a job at Ohio State University and left one month before Okunowo arrived.
“The environment here is conducive,” Okunowo said. “People are ready to assist if you ask. If you don’t ask, you are on your own. I want to believe this is a result of the concept of liberty and freedom.”
But Okunowo said the culture here is still much different.
“Culture of commonality is not so much regarded in American society and American culture,” Okunowo said. “I don’t see as much family life and family living.
“By the age of 16 to 18 people are already gone, parents are abandoned. I hardly see old parents living with children — everyone lives on their own. Money is provided to take care, as opposed to personally giving care,” Okunowo said.
Okunowo is a professor in Nigeria at Tai Solarin University of Education, teaching literature and English. He received his masters in 1991 at Nigeria’s University of Lagos. His decision to come here to research for his doctorate was to further his education.
“My (educational) orientation has been in the arts. I have always excelled in literature, English and linguistics,” Okunowo said.
Okunowo researches the linguistics of African literature, as well as teaches modern and contemporary literature. He also tutors in the athletic department.
“Education is all about expression and college is a necessary step for educational advancement in every life,” Okunowo said.
Okunowo has noticed what little diversity there is on campus.
“CU preaches diversity a lot. I want to encourage that diversity to reflect in the university curriculum, in the available courses and classes,” Okunowo said. “Let’s see some sort of integration of ethnic groups in the university. Integration is the beauty of diversity.”
Contact Campus Press staff writer Devon Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org