• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

GOOD NIGHT, PROF OJEME By Ewere Okonta

Jul 8, 2024

GOOD NIGHT, PROF OJEME

By Ewere Okonta

In the hallowed halls of academia and on the vibrant fields of sports, certain names leave an indelible mark, shaping the contours of their disciplines and inspiring generations to come. One such name is Prof Emmanuel Ojeme, a man of many firsts and a titan in the realm of Physical Education and Sports Development. As we bid him farewell, we remember a life lived with unparalleled dedication, passion, and excellence.

Prof Ojeme, a Professor Emeritus of Physical Education and Sports Development at the University of Benin, was a beacon of knowledge and a paragon of pragmatic philosophy. His tenure as the Provost of Delta State College of Education, Mosogar (2015-2020), was marked by transformative leadership and a commitment to educational excellence. His scholarly contributions were profound, particularly in the synthesis of the epistemological structure of Physical Education, with a unique emphasis on the humanities and social sciences of sports.

From his early days, Prof Ojeme showcased an extraordinary talent for football, earning the nickname “Area Soccer” from his primary schoolmates due to his exceptional skills and dexterity on the field. This childhood passion blossomed into a lifelong journey as a multi-talented athlete, making significant strides in the sports world.

In the Physical Education and Sports circles, Prof Ojeme was revered for his hybridized application of theory to practice. His expertise in Sports Development was unparalleled, and he tirelessly worked to deepen the understanding of pedagogy in Physical Education. His commitment to education was not just about imparting knowledge but about inspiring and molding future leaders.

Beyond his academic and athletic prowess, Prof Ojeme was a true Renaissance man. He was an ardent believer in entrepreneurial development, a role model, a trailblazer, a biographer, and a newspaper columnist. His insights and perspectives were highly sought after, making him a global public speaker in Sports and Physical Education. His contributions to the Nigeria Association for Physical, Health Education, Recreation, Sports, and Dance (NAPHERSD) were invaluable, serving as a board member until his passing on Monday, May 20, 2024.

The Early Life of Late Prof Emeritus, Emmanuel Ojeme

The story of Prof Emmanuel Ojeme begins in the serene town of Ekuku Agbor, where he was born into the esteemed family of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Ojeme. This family is renowned as one of the most educated in Delta State, a reputation built on the remarkable academic achievements of its members. Among his siblings, three hold PhDs—Dr. Mrs. Juliet Ojeme-Ossai, Dr. Blessing Ojeme, and Dr. Patrick Ojeme. Another sibling holds an MSc, while the remaining members are all first-degree holders. This environment of scholarly excellence was undoubtedly engineered by the late Professor emeritus.

Emmanuel Ojeme’s journey through life was not only marked by his academic and athletic accomplishments but also by the strong familial bonds he cherished. He was married to Prof Agartha Ojeme, a distinguished professor at the Institute of Education, University of Benin, Benin City. Their marriage was a partnership of intellectual equals, and together, they nurtured a family that continued the tradition of academic excellence. They were blessed with five children, two of whom have earned their doctorates in the United Kingdom, continuing the family’s legacy of educational attainment.

The early life of Prof Ojeme was thus steeped in an environment that valued knowledge, learning, and the pursuit of excellence. These formative years laid the foundation for his future achievements and his unwavering commitment to education and sports development. As we remember Prof Ojeme, we celebrate not just his individual accomplishments but also the rich tapestry of family and community that influenced and supported him throughout his remarkable life.

The Educational Journey of Late Prof Emeritus, Emmanuel Ojeme

Prof Emmanuel Ojeme’s journey through the realms of education is a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion for learning. His academic odyssey began at Omie Primary School in Ekuku Agbor, where he completed his primary education in 1965. Showing promise early on, he advanced to St. Georges Grammar School in Obinomba, finishing in 1970. At St. Georges, Emmanuel was not only a diligent student but also an active member of the school football team, showcasing his athletic prowess.

Pursuing further education, Emmanuel attended Edo College in Benin City, where he obtained his Higher School Certificate in 1972. His academic excellence and commitment led him to the Institute of Education at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in Ile Ife. Here, he graduated with a single honours BSc in Physical Education in 1976.

Emmanuel’s thirst for knowledge did not end there. In October 1978, he embarked on postgraduate studies at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, under the sponsorship of the University of Benin. His relentless pursuit of academic excellence culminated in June 1981, when he earned his PhD at the youthful age of 28. Notably, he was the first Nigerian to be awarded a PhD in Physical Education by a Nigerian university, marking a significant milestone in the field.

Prof Ojeme’s scholarly journey continued to soar as he ascended to the rank of full Professor in the year 2000. His academic achievements, coupled with his contributions to the field of Physical Education, established him as a leading figure in sports development and education. Prof Ojeme’s educational journey reflects his lifelong commitment to learning, excellence, and the advancement of knowledge, leaving an enduring legacy for future generations to emulate.

 

The Journey of Late Prof Emeritus, Emmanuel Ojeme into the Ivory Tower:

The late Professor Emeritus had a remarkable journey into academia, marked by serendipity and dedication. During an interview with this writer in 2019, he fondly recalled a pivotal moment in 1977. While serving his National Youth Service at the National Sports Commission, he came across a newspaper advertisement from the University of Benin seeking lecturers for their newly established Department of Physical Education.

On his journey home to Ekuku Agbor from Lagos, after completing his service, he decided to stop by the university to inquire about his application. To his surprise, he learned that he was the sole applicant. This fortuitous turn of events led to his immediate employment by the university.

Throughout his distinguished career, he served the University of Benin with unwavering commitment, eventually rising to the rank of full professor. His academic contributions were vast, including numerous publications and the supervision of over 20 master’s degree students and 10 Ph.D. candidates. Many of his students have followed in his footsteps, achieving professorships themselves.

The late Professor’s legacy is one of dedication, mentorship, and significant contributions to the field of physical education. His journey from a young graduate to an esteemed professor serves as an inspiring tale of hard work and the impact one individual can have on their field and the lives of many students.

Prof Ojeme’s legacy is one of inspiration and profound impact. His life was a testament to the power of passion, dedication, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. As we prepare to lay him to rest in his hometown of Ekuku Agbor on July 5, 2024, we remember a man who not only excelled in his field but also touched the lives of many with his wisdom, kindness, and unwavering spirit.

Good night, Prof Emeritus, Ojeme. Your legacy will continue to inspire and guide us. Your contributions to the world of Physical Education and Sports will never be forgotten. Rest in peace.