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Iwe is a Yoruba word for book. Though, depending on context or in common explicit use, it is often
mentioned when talking about academia, a person’s intellect, study, education, etc. The word School for
instance is expressed as ile iwe.

Nigeria is a great nation of resources and talent. It’s people are amongst the world’s brightest, most gifted and most hard working. This is especially so in academia. There is this cultural drive to excel that comes across. Advanced university degrees are rated very highly, being of great cultural and social significance.

There is absolutely no doubt that education is important. However my sensibilities were challenged in a conversation with a dear friend not too long ago. I was fascinated by his positing that, generally, our very high academic standards and qualifications do not seem apparent societally, when you consider the general state of the nation, it’s infrastructure, communities, lifestyle and so on.

This insight coupled with my personal experience growing up in Nigeria and from encounters with the
Nigerian diaspora, I think that the realities of the times in which we live are beginning to really question just what “education” means or can mean – in our societal and individual contexts. It is as if some kind of revision of the whole concept is taking place, whether we’ll like to acknowledge this or not.

What motivates our quest for scholarly excellence and how far will we go? Once the milestones thereof become ours, how exactly will we use these, precious as they are? How relevant will these milestones be and what problem(s) will they solve?

Gbenga Orimoloye
April 2016

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