(‘Father’ of Geography)

Professor Akin Ladipo Mabogunje (ALM) is a Nigerian geographer. He was born in 1931 in Kano and lived in Sabongari during his primary school years. He then attended Mapo Central School for one year before passing the entrance examination for Ibadan Grammar School. He won the Egbe Omo Oduduwa scholarship to study at the University College, Ibadan, now the University of Ibadan, where he later worked as a lecturer.

He started his professional career as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan in 1958. He became a senior lecturer in 1964 and a professor of Geography in 1965.

Later on, he was Head of Department of Geography (1972-1975); Dean Faculty of the Social Sciences (1968-1970) and Director, Planning Studies Programme (1972- 1981).

At the professional level, Professor Mabogunje was Editor of the Nigerian Geographical Journal (1962-65); Editor, Oxford University Press series on studies on the Development of African Resources; President, Nigeria Geographical Association (1972- 1982); Vice-President, Nigerian Ecological Society (1973-79); President, National Council Population Activities (1986-1992); and Executive Chairman, Development Policy Centre, Ibadan (1996-2000).

This distinguished scholar, the ‘Father’ of Geography and one of the Fathers of the Social Sciences in Nigeria, has served government in many capacities and is the recipient of about 20 Honours in various academic, professional and administrative fields both at the national and international levels.

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 describes 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 is the Chairman of Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy.

He has published many book chapters, journal articles, conference papers, solicited papers, technical reports, books and monographs in locally and internationally outlets among which includes:

Urbanization in Nigeria; The development process: a spatial perspective; Regional mobility and resource development in West Africa; The state of the earth: contemporary geographic perspectives; Yoruba towns: based on a lecture entitled “Problems of a pre-industrial urbanization in West Africa”; Shelter provision in developing countries : the influence of standards and criteria and Owu in Yoruba history.


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