A leading Nigerian academic in the United States, Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu of Princeton University, has assumed duties at Oxford University, one of the oldest and most respected educational institutions in the world, as a distinguished professor.
Though announced last year as Slade Professor of Art for the 2023 academic session, Professor Okeke formally began teaching last week at the most prestigious British university established in 1096.
He is the first African to hold this position since the chair was endowed in 1870.
According to Oxford University, the chair of Slade Professor is “always a figure of international standing in the study of visual arts”.
This is a great honour to Nigeria and the African world, declares Toyin Falola, himself the preeminent of History at the University of Texas at Dallas.
“He consistently sets Nigeria on the path of global recognition for something good, and this is easily proven by his achievements over the course of his career”, says Falola about Okeke-Agulu who was just last year among the 85 outstanding scholars to become fellows of the highly revered British Academy, the United Kingdom’s national academy for the arts and social sciences.
The school valedictorian at the University of Nigeria at Nsukka some 29 years ago who went on to receive a doctoral degree in Art History from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, Professor Okeke-Agulu has written globally acclaimed books on such distinguished African artists as El Anatsui, Obiora Udechukwu, Demas Nwoko, and Yusuf Grillo.
“Chika has helped to bring the works of these great men to the attention of the world and interpreted them in a most uncanny way”, notes Ndidi Dike, a top Nigerian sculptor and painter who also graduated from the same department as Professor Okeke-Agulu at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
“He is worth his weight in gold, and remains a great ambassador of the Nigerian, nay African, people everywhere.”
Professor Okeke-Agula hails from Umuoji in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.