Rose Aziza, The Academic Matriarch, @ 60
Nigeria remains a nation sorely betrayed by its people. For too long now, we have ascribed the blame of “the trouble with Nigeria” to bad leadership, while we continue to exculpate all Nigerians as victims of an ineluctable and cruel fate. An evaluation of the Nigerian condition easily yields conclusions pointing to indices of individual and collective betrayal manifesting in complicity, compromise and silence. I have had to argue again and again that the so-called leaders usually arise from among the people. Hence, if bad leaders arise from among us perennially, then there is something inherently bad in us all. My claim runs the risk of being declared an over-generalisation, but the point I am making inheres in the reality that the “beautiful ones are not yet born” in Nigeria.
I want to quickly add that in spite of the duplicity and moral deficiency that is prevalent among us as a people, there are still some individuals, whose sterling character stand out as beacons of hope and who continue to inspire humanity that regeneration is possible and that life can be lived with dignity. Unfortunately, our errant society has ascribed little or no premium to the exemplary worth of such remarkable individuals, who should embody its moral codes and progressive ideals. It is within this stellar stratum that one finds Roseline Orioro Aziza (nee Olomukoro), a Professor of Linguistics and present Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) of the Delta State University, Abraka who turns 60 on March 11, 2016.
A profoundly erudite scholar and inspiring mentor, self-effacing, affable, calm and with an inspiring disposition, Professor Rose Oro Aziza was born on March 11 1956. An exemplum of the simplicity of true greatness, she began schooling at a time, when it was difficult for the girl-child to do so. She attended St. Maria Goretti Girls Grammar School in Benin before proceeding to the University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University in 1972 to study English. She won the Special Female Award and graduated in 1976 with a Second Class Upper Division. She attended the University of Ibadan for a Master’s degree in Linguistics from 1979 to 1980 on a postgraduate scholarship. She was also at the University of Benin for a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from 1987 to 1988. The quest for the Golden Fleece took her again to Ibadan, where she was awarded the ultimate academic diadem, a PhD in Linguistics in 1997.
A thoroughbred teacher, Aziza taught English in many secondary schools in Nigeria before joining the English Department of the College of Education, Warri, where she was at different times, Dean of Schools of Languages and Liberal Arts.
She joined the Department of Languages and Linguistics of the Delta State University in 1999 and became its millennium Head of Department in 2000. Twice Associate Dean of the Postgraduate School, she became a Professor in 2007 and in 2010 was elected Dean of the Faculty of Arts. She made history as the DELSU’s first elected female Dean.
Professor Aziza is a colossus of African Linguistics and her views constitute critical touchstones in the study and preservation of indigenous languages. More significantly, Aziza breathed academic life into the Urhobo language. Her pioneering role in the establishment of the Bachelor of Arts degree programme in Urhobo, as well as evolving an academic curriculum for the Urhobo language as a subject in public examinations, carved a place for her in humanistic scholarship.
Aziza is a recurring name at conferences, seminars, books and journals across the globe. She has held many consultancies, delivered keynote addresses and served as external examiner/assessor to different universities. This is in addition to being a member of many professional associations in Africa and Europe. Truly, the name Aziza is a most worthy protégé of Emenanjo, Bambgose, Banjo and Elugbe among others, who put her on the trail she blazed. She became DELSU’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) in March 2015 and etched her name in the ennobling narrative of girl-child education.
Professor Aziza is an epitome of ideal humanity, as well as a symbol of what a quintessential humanistic scholar should be. She is unassuming, accessible and patient with listening ears. Since her joining DELSU, she has functioned as an academic mother to many whom she has had to advise not just about career progress, but also on how life should be lived. Many have found succour and regenerative energy from her advice. Her lifestyle has also been very inspiring to colleagues and students irrespective of gender. She lacks the hoity-toity for which some people of her status are known.
A great exponent of family values, she is married to Mr. Moses Aziza and their children are famous for scoring academic hat-tricks by making First Class Honours even in far away Cambridge University. Professor Rose Orioro Aziza still has much to offer humanity and it is the prayer of us all that her life will endure from season to season in good health and strength. As we say in Urhobo, kukpe kukpe amre egodi… the kite does not die with the year!
Dr. Awhefeada teaches literature at the Delta State University, Abraka.
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