Nigerian historian and professor of African studies, Toyin Falola, was celebrated on Sunday by his family, friends, supporters and trainees, among others, on his 70th birthday.
Falola, who was born on January 1, 1953, was given a virtual surprise birthday celebration after he turned down plans to throw a party for him.
Some of those who participated in the virtual celebration included former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi and his wife, Bisi, among others.
In a keynote speech delivered by Tunji Olaopa, the professor was described as a progressive agent and an agent provocateur.
“One need not wonder why book after book and speech after lecture keep coming out of the mind of the master ideationist,” he added.
In his speech, Obasanjo welcomed the professor to the circle of septuagenarians and prayed that they would both be alive to celebrate their 80th birthday.
He said: “Our existential challenges as humans and, more critically, as Nigerians are many, and even more so for someone like you who shoulder many responsibilities as an academic, custodian of culture, elder in your own right, statesman, and public global intellectual. .
“I must say that I deeply appreciate your incessant interventions in the collapse of Nigeria as a nation. Nigeria needs its intellectuals, professionals and patriots, those who can fight with her to instigate the progress that seems to have eluded us for so long, and you have successfully stood in that best tradition.”
Appreciating the professor for the knowledge he imparted, Fayemi revealed that his wife was once a student of the historian.
He said: “I consider myself an indirect student of Prof. Falola. He taught my wife who is also a part of this webinar. But I first learned at her feet when he wrote that harrowing book with Julius Ihonvbere, The Rise and Fall of the Second Republic. From then on, I was very fascinated and interested in his work.”
Ms. Fayemi recalled how Falola instilled in students at the then Ife University the belief that they could be anything they wanted, even if they only had a certificate in history.
In his thank you speech, Falola revealed that he rejected the initiative of friends from the University of Ibadan, the University of Pretoria, the University of South Africa and the University of the Free State to throw a 70th birthday party for him.
Others who were mentored by Falola also took turns appreciating him for his support and how he nurtured them up to the leadership level.
He claimed he only found out about the virtual celebration hours before it was set to begin and was unable to prevent it due to the caliber of those expected to attend.