Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko
Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women
Life at the University of Lagos (Unilag):
When I was hired as Lecturer II by the University of Lagos in April, 1975, I applied to Radio Nigeria for a transfer to Unilag, but was denied a transfer. My then boss vowed that the only way I could leave was to resign. He was shocked that I could get a job at the University with what he believed was an inadequate qualification. Only God knows what else he did underground to stop my getting the job.
However, my first two years at the University were good. My colleagues were happy to see me join them. I had already made a name for myself as Joy Nwosu, the Voice. Ayo and I teamed up for his and my concerts. Then Akin Euba joined us. He came in already a professor. I believe that was the deal he made for taking him from the University of Ife to the University of Lagos. I was happy when he joined us, and was planning for the great things we could do together. I loved all my colleagues because they were all great men in music; Laz Ekwueme, Ayo Bankole and Akin Euba. I was honored to be among them.
The same year Akin joined the University; rumors started filtering in that I may not be qualified to be a lecturer at the University. These rumors, I learned later were coming from my colleagues at the Radio station. A top professors at the Faculty of Arts started putting pressure on Ayo and Akin to expose me. Laz was considered my mentor, the one instrumental in getting me hired, so he was excluded, but he let me know what was going on.
At the time, we had a wonderful man at the helm of affairs at Unilag, The Vice Chancellor, Professor Ade Ajai, may God bless him. I went to him to complain about the rumors, and to tell him that I was ready to go to the US for my Ph.D. to stop the rumors. By this time, Laz had also become a professor. So Professor Ade Ajai suggested to me that I should do my Ph.D. at Unilag, under the supervision of the two professors of music that we had. Prof. Ekwueme was doubtful about the outcome, but Professor Euba was blunt and did not mince words with me. He told me that he did not believe that I was qualified to do a Bachelor’s degree, how much more a Ph.D. He followed up this claim by going to the Italian Embassy in Lagos with my Italian credentials translated by him, to get the Italian Ambassador in Lagos to agree with his translations, and to sign it as correct. He did not speak Italian, nor did he understand the Italian system of rating their credentials.
I came to know about this because, the Ambassador himself, who knew me quite well because I was a regular performer at the Embassy, sent his driver to Unilag to pick me up and take me to the embassy. There he told me about this man who came to him with a lady, and tried to talk him into signing his translation of my credentials and assessment as correct.
“Of course I refused to sign his papers.” He told me. “I told him that we have a department in Italy that deals with certificate assessments, that he should send his papers there for proper assessment if he really wanted to know the truth about my qualifications. Now, my advice to you is to leave that place if they do not believe in you.”
I left the embassy in shock and determined to follow the Ambassador’s advice. Luck was on my side. It was 1977, and FESTAC was just winding down, when the US embassy in Lagos offered a number of exchange visitor scholarships to some Nigeria artistes, and I was one of them. I took the opportunity of my visit to the US to apply and audition for schools.
Months after I returned from the US, I received a letter of admission to a doctoral program in music education from the University of Michigan. I was aesthetic! I first ran to Professor Ekwueme with my letter. After he read it he asked whether I have shown it to Professor Euba, I said no but that I was going to do so immediately. By this time Professor Euba treated me like a parrier. He will not return my greeting if I greeted him. I knocked at his door, opened and entered. I had a broad smile on my face, and he was scowling at me.
“I want you to see this.” I told him handing him the letter. While he read it I watched his face for reactions. He put the letter down quietly on his table, stood up and offered me his hand and said, “Congratulations colleague.”
I took my letter from his desk, folded it and walked out of his office.
I later learned that the witch hunt on me started from my former boss at Radio Nigeria. They wanted Ayo to be the one to flush me out, but Ayo refused. May his soul rest in peace.
Websites: http://sbpra.com/joylobamijoko/ Mirror of Our Lives …..
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