Professor (Chief) Hon. Nathaniel Durojaye Oyerinde: The First Nigerian Professor

The life and times of our beloved who was the first Ògbómòsó man to be well educated and rose to become the first professor in Nigeria, perhaps also among the earliest educationalists in Black Africa to have a Ph.D and become a professor.

Nathaniel Durojaye Oyerinde hailed from Ile-Igbagbo in Isale Afon, the root of Christianity in Ògbómòsó which produced early educationists. The family house became the forerunners of who is who in pursuit of western education.

Master Nathaniel Durojaye Oyerinde was born into the family of Pa. David Aworinde, one of the earliest trained pastors in Nigeria and Madam Adeyemi Aworinde in October 1875, he attended both Baptist Day School, Osupa, Ogbomoso and Baptist Day School, Lagos between 1898 and 1901.

Young, Oyerinde attended the Preachers’ Training Class/Institute founded by Rev. C. E. Smith in Ògbómòsó. Thus, N.D. Oyerinde became one of the first sets and a graduate of the institution (the forerunner of the Baptist College and Seminary).

After passing out of the college, he taught briefly at the Baptist Day School, Ogbomoso from 1901 to 1906, when he left for United States Of America to study. He was at Wayland Academy and Virginia Union University, Richmond Virginia, and obtained B.A. Degree in Mathematics and classics in 1914 and B.D. Degree in 1915.

For his postgraduate study he was at the University of Chicago, Illinois, majoring in Hebrew before returning to Nigeria in 1916. From available records, it can be deduced that on a comparative level, Professor N.D Oyerinde remains one of the earliest Nigerians to be so educated even on the Continent of Africa.

The NBTS, Ogbomosho was established in 1898 and by 1948 was affiliated with the Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville in the United States. There is no disputing the fact that by 1950, NBTS had turned out its first set of graduates. Historically NBTS is the first Nigerian institution to award degrees.

On his arrival home, Pa. N.D Oyerinde taught at Baptist Academy, Ogbomoso from late 1916 to 1921 and at Baptist College and Seminary, Ogbomoso 1922 to 1935. On his other multi-facets and multifarious assignments, he remains a colossus of his era. He was Recording Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention in 1923 and 1924 and was the president of the convention between 1926 and 1937.

Professor Oyerinde was nominated to be a member of the legislative council of Nigeria, Lagos, representing Oyo province from 1935 till 1944. As president of Ogbomoso Progressive Union (OPU) he was made a full time council member of Ògbómòsó District council in 1935.

It was not a surprise that Oba Alabi Afolabi Oyewumi Ajagungbade II appointed the most educated citizen of Ògbómòsó at that time as Otun Baale in 1936 and as Otun Baale no aspersion could be raised as he was a high chief.

As a patriotic citizen fighting for advancement and progress of his fatherland, Professor Oyerinde was solidly the brain behind the establishment of earlier Ogbomoso continuation classes and People’s Institute founded in 1938 for which he invited his young friend, Professor Eyo Ita as the headmaster of the Institute.

Professor N.D Oyerinde was among the founders of Ogbomoso Grammar School and Ogbomoso Girls High School. For many years he was the chairman Board of Governors for Ogbomoso Grammar School, similarly, he was the founder and First president of Ogbomoso Progressive Union (OPU) in 1912.

He was conferred with OBE during Queen Elizabeth II birthday honour in 1947. Similarly, he was made member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR) by the Head of State of Nigeria and in 1950 he was appointed a justice of the Peace (JP). Equally for many years he was Chairman of Education Committee of Ogbomoso District Council and Chairman of the Board of the Nigeria Training Centre for the Blind, Ogbomoso.

It was also Professor (Chief) N.D. Oyerinde who wrote and submitted a memorandum on “Economic Development of Ogbomoso in 1948”. Professor N.D Oyerinde’s Economic thesis was based on the premise that since Ogbomoso is largely cocoa, rubber and mahogany which could advance the fortunes of his teeming population.

It was obvious that the tilling of land is not sufficient for the growing youth population as result of cessation of hostility after the Yoruba civil strife, in order to check Ogbomoso dispersal or drift to other towns and regions, and similarly to reduce economic hardship being experienced at home, the learned Professor thought and felt there was need for reawakening and discovery to bail his people out of the doldrums.

Thus, the growing of cotton and the planting of tobacco were accepted as an alternative, profitable enterprise by the Oba of Ogbomoso and his high chiefs, the resident district officer of Ogbomoso and by Dr. J.C pool of the American Baptist Mission.

On top of all his contributions, Late Pa. (Hon) N.D. Oyerinde a professor Emeritus, sat down and chronicled into a book; THE HISTORY OF OGBOMOSO; TITLED , “IWE ITAN OGBOMOSO” Published as far back as 1934, without which not much could have been known on Ogbomoso early or ancient history.

Professor (Chief) Hon. Nathaniel Durojaye Oyerinde died on 18th April, 1977 at the ripe age of 102


Credit: My Woven Words

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