Obituary, Philip Shea
By Moses Ochonu:
A pioneer economic historian of Northern Nigeria and an important figure in
the Nigerian Historical profession, Professor Philip Shea, has died. Professor
Shea died in Kano, Nigeria, on April 5. Coming so soon after the death of
another prominent Nigerianist historical scholar, Dr. Bala Usman, Shea’s death
is an unquantifiable loss to Northern Nigerian, Nigerian, and African Studies.
Shea was a Professor in Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, where he taught for
almost 30 years, training and mentoring several generations of historians and
avidly conducting path-breaking research into the economic and political
history of Hausaland, especially Kano.
He published several articles in Nigerian and international journals on, among
other subjects, the development of the dyeing industry in precolonial Kano;
rural production; indirect rule; and the central Sudanese silk trade.
His most recent publication is “Mallam Muhammad Bakatsine and the Jihad in
Eastern Kano,” History in Africa (2005).
His unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Development of an Export Oriented
Dyed Cloth Industry in Kano Emirate in the Nineteenth Century (Wisconsin,
1975), has become one of the most cited works on dyeing and textiles in
Africa. It has become a reference text in discussions of indigenous African
Philip Shea was born in Cambridge Massachusetts on July 30 1945. He attended
Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania before going to Wisconsin for his Ph.D in
African History. While conducting field and archival research for his doctoral
dissertation in 1970-71, he fell in love in Nigeria and never left. After the
completion of his Ph.D., he took a job with Advanced Teachers College, Gumel,
now in Jigawa State. In 1980, he was appointed Senior Lecturer at the
Abdullahi Bayero College campus of Ahmadu Bello University, which became an
autonomous university and was renamed Bayero University in 1975. He was
promoted to a full professor in 1998. He held visiting professorships at the
University of California, Berkeley, USA, and Bayreuth University, Germany.
May his soul rest in peace.