It is with deep sorrow that the family of Don Ohadike and the faculty, staff, and students of the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University announce the passing of Professor Don Ohadike. Professor Don Ohadike, the prominent scholar of West African history and former Director of the Africana Studies and Research Center, died on Sunday August 28, 2005. Professor Ohadike, who joined Cornell's Africana Studies and Research Center as an assistant professor in 1989, served as an associate professor since 1996, and as Director of the Africana Studies and Research Center from 2001 to 2005. Prior to joining Cornell, he held academic appointments and prestigious visiting and postdoctoral fellowships at several institutions, including Stanford University in 1988 and Northwestern University in 1988-1989; University of Jos in Nigeria as Chair of History Department from 1984 to 1988; and as lecturer at the School of Humanities, University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria from 1977 to 1979. Ohadike earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from the University of Birmingham in England in 1977 and the University of Jos in 1984, respectively; and his B.A. in history and archaeology from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka in 1975.
Ohadike was among the best and most productive scholars of his generation in the field of African history and more specifically West African history. In the field of African and Diaspora history, Ohadike represented the uncommon combination of an active scholar, a committed teacher and a good citizen of the university and the profession. Above all he was a very fine human being. This combination enabled him to pursue new paths of exploration and analysis in the research and teaching of African and African Diaspora history. He was impressive in the range of his work and the depth of his knowledge of African history. His scholarly work covered several areas including slavery in Africa; anti-slavery and anti-colonial resistance movements in Africa and the African Diaspora; disease, epidemiology and food security in Africa; and Nigerian history.
Ohadike authored several books and articles in scholarly journals. His published books include: The Ekumeku Movement: Western Igbo Resistance to the British Conquest of Nigeria, 1883-1914 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1991), Anioma: A Social History of the Western Igbo People (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1994), and Pan-African Culture of Resistance: A History of Liberation Movements in Africa and the Diaspora, (Binghamton: Institute of Global Cultural Studies, Binghamton University, 2002). He also completed a manuscript on resistance movements in Africa and the African Diaspora, tentatively called The Sacred Drums of Liberation: Religions and Music of Resistance in Africa and the Diaspora. He was working on the manuscript just a few days before his passing. A clear indication of Ohadike's highly regarded status in the field of Igbo history and culture was the invitation by Heinemann, the original publishers of the famous African Writers Series, to write the introduction to Chinua Achebe's masterpiece Things Fall Apart, which he did for its 1996 edition.
Don Ohadike was an outstanding and exemplary teacher. His commitment to teaching and to bridging his scholarship and practice in the classroom was clearly illuminated in the record of highly innovative courses that he taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels. All the courses he taught embodied his philosophy of bridging his research and teaching. His course on African Cultures and Civilizations, which he taught for 14 years, attracted more than 100 students per semester. Ohadike was known as a great storyteller and students often left his classroom with smiles on their faces. Over the years Ohadike had gained the reputation among his former students as a passionate, compelling teacher and a highly respected mentor.
In Igbo society, a person's greatness is measured by earned titles and by a concurrence reached with the guardian spirit called chi. Ohadike had them both; he was indeed a great person with many accomplished and well deserved titles. In Ohadike's passing, the Africana Center and Cornell University as well as the Ithaca community that he wholeheartedly embraced have certainly lost an extremely generous colleague and a very wonderful human being. His memory is going to stay with us for a long time to come.
Don Ohadike was born on October 4, 1941 in the city of Jos in Plateau State, Nigeria. He is survived by two daughters, Ophelia Ohadike of Washington, D.C., and Sandra Ohadike, of Silver Springs, Maryland, and two sons, James Ohadike, of Jersey City, New Jersey, and Azuka Ohadike, of Lagos, Nigeria, and wife Veronica Ohadike, and five grand children.
Calling hours for Don Ohadike will be held on Friday, September 2, 2005 from
5: 00-8:00 p.m. at the Herson Funeral Home, 110 South Geneva Street, Ithaca, N.Y. Funeral services will be on Saturday, September 3, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 402 North Aurora Street, with the Reverend Kenneth I. Clarke, Sr., Director of Cornell United Religious Work, officiating. Burial will be in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery, with a reception to follow from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Africana Studies & Research Center, Cornell University, 310 Triphammer Road, Ithaca, NY.