Ayo Bamgbose was welcomed into the world by his father, Rev. Sangodipe Bamigbose and Mrs. Victoria Bamigbose on January 27, 1932. After he completed his primary education, he proceeded to St. Andrew College for his secondary education. Bamigbose qualified to be a grade two teacher in 1952 but his desire to learn more drove him to University of Ibadan to study English and he graduated with a high second class upper division.
He earned a diploma in general linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in 1961 and went further to earn his PhD in 1963 with the thesis, “A Study of Structures and Classes in the Grammar of Modern Yoruba.” In the same year, he became a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, rose to a senior lecturer in 1966 and became a professor in 1968. When he retired from the university, for his outstanding works, he was honored with the title of Professor Emeritus.
Bamigbose’s works resolves around the structure of Yoruba Language and he has 21 notable works on it. Some of them are Grammar of Yoruba (Cambridge University Press, 1966), a classic in the application of modern linguistics to Yoruba, Orthographics of Nigerian Languages (Efik, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba) (National Language Centre, Lagos, 1981), Language and the Nation (Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1991) and others.
Prof. Ayo Bamigbose has numerous honours and accomplishments attached to his name. In 1984, he became the first African linguist to be conferred honorary membership of the linguistic society of America (LSA), He was elected as the first African President of the International Association of World Englishes in in 2000. He was also honoured to be elected Foundation President of the Assembly of Academicians of African Languages.
He was a visiting professor to University of Hamburg in 1979-80, visiting fellow to Clare Hall, Cambridge University in 1987-88, and visiting professor to the University of Leipzig 1997-1999.
Ayo Bamgbose’s works are must read for those who want to understand Nigeria’s culture and linguistic diversity. In his autobiography ‘From Grace to Grace’, he said that, ‘The magic number is 44, the age at which my father passed on, became an albatross for me. As I carried on in life, I kept wondering whether I would not die at 44.
Recently, Prof Emeritus marked his 90th birthday. He was widely celebrated within and outside the country among whom was the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.
image: thepolitico, thenation