The Song Seems over but the Melody Lingers by Ganiyu Jimoh Ph.D.
Like the big masquerade, whose costume can only be related to based on the side of audience you are, Prof. Tejumola Olaniyan’s contribution to humanity is multifaceted and could only be expressed from the side of “the ring of the audience” one is engaged with. Among enormous scholarly outputs, Prof Olaniyan was one of the first scholars to document African cartooning. Paving ways for academic recognition of the genre as a legitimate historical source. His passion for cartooning birthed www.africacartoons.com, one of the largest online databases of cartoons from and about Africa.
I came across Prof. Teju’s works on cartooning during my postgraduate research on political cartoons from Africa. My consultation with him through emails yielded several materials he forwarded to me in 2009 without even seeing me or knowing anything about me other than being a graduate student from the University of Lagos. His kindness and willingness to help emerging scholars prompted me to invite him to write the foreword to my first exhibition on political cartoons at the University of Lagos in 2013 – a task he selflessly rendered. Our relationship became cordial since then as I became his research assistant on Nigerian cartoons since then. When I approached the African Studies Center, Michigan State University in 2015 for a doctoral fellowship position, Prof Olaniyan was readily available as a recommender. Coincidentally, his paths and that of one of my faculty sponsors, Prof. Peter Limbs, had crossed several times. They both had a strong passion for cartoons and were proposing a book on African cartoons. This came to fruition in 2018 when they both edited a significant book on African Cartoons, Taking African Cartoons Seriously published by MSU press in which I contributed a chapter.
During my fellowship at MSU, I staged my second exhibition in 2015, with Prof. Teju’s words gracing the front page of my publication as usual and he also hosted my works for online exhibition for thirty days on http://www.africacartoons.com. I was also invited as a guest speaker at the Africa at Noon talk series at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the same year.
I don’t think resuscitating the Cartoonists Association of Nigeria in 2017 could have been possible without Prof. Olaniyan’s suggestions when I told him about reuniting Nigerian cartoonists as part of my objectives after my doctoral program in 2016. Up till his demise, Prof. Olaniyan was not just a financial member, but also one of the most respected “pillars” of the association.
Prof. Teju’s passion for mentoring younger ones, especially Africa-based scholars was tremendous.
The song seems over, but the melody will forever linger.
Good night, great Prof.
K’ato r’erin od’igbo
k’to r’efon od’odan
K’ato tun ri Tejumola Olaniyan
Orun ‘re o.
Ganiyu A. Jimoh (Jimga) PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fine Art Department, Rhodes University, South Africa. He can be reached via G.Jimoh@ru.ac.za.
For more on Tejumola Olaniyan:
Tejumola Olaniyan, Eminent Professor of English and African Cultural Studies, Dies at 60
Professor Tejumola Olaniyan, 60, dies of heart failure in US