Ayodele Oluwatuminu Awojobi was a Nigerian educator, author, inventor, social and political activist. He was born in a middle class family and grew up to be one of the most influential personalities of Africa. A remarkable student, he excelled in academics and was also recognized as a brilliant dramatist which earned him the nickname of ‘Macbeth’. After completing school education with first-rate grades, he earned scholarships for his graduate as well as post-graduate degrees, and was also funded for his doctoral degree which he earned from the University of London. He went on to obtain a Doctor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with his groundbreaking research in the field of ‘Vibration’. He imparted knowledge at various other levels too, even as he worked at his day job as a full-time professor and university lecturer. His students nicknamed him ‘Dead Easy’ around the campus because of his simple and effective teaching style. Along with being a teacher, he was also an inventor and envisioned his country to become more technologically advanced through Autonov I, a hybrid vehicle designed by him which had the ability to reach high speeds within seconds. As a social and political activist, he raised his voice against the perceived corrupt Nigerian government and also authored several books concerning the issue. He was a remarkable educator who devoted his entire life towards the establishment of an honest and knowledgeable society
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on March 12, 1937, in Oshodi, Nigeria, to Chief Daniel Adekoya Awojobi, a stationmaster at the Nigerian Railway, and his wife, Comfort Bamidele Awojobi, a minor trader.
From 1942 to 1947, he attended St. Peter's Primary School, Faji, Lagos. Then he got enrolled at the CMS Grammar School, Lagos, where he achieved academic excellence and also earned the nickname ‘Macbeth’.
Ayodele Awojobi was gifted in mathematics and the sciences, and also developed a particular interest in the arts, becoming a member of the school's literary and debating society. In 1955, he earned straight-A's passing with a record eight distinctions.
Later, he attended the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Ibadan, for his General Certificate of Examinations, GCE (Advanced Level) and in 1958, he obtained distinction in all the subjects.
In 1962, he obtained his graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria. The same year, the federal government awarded him a scholarship to study further at the University of London. In 1966, he completed the course and earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.
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In 1966, Ayodele Awojobi returned from England and was appointed as a professor in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos. His teaching methods earned him the respect of his engineering students and he soon became quite famous around the campus.
He quickly rose through the ranks and became the Head of Mechanical Engineering Department at the university.
Later, Ayodele Awojobi went back to London to study for his Doctorate and returned in 1974. Upon his return, he was appointed as associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Lagos.
One week after he was appointed as associate professor, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc). This prompted the university to immediately appoint him as the professor of Mechanical Engineering.
His natural tendency to educate motivated him to become a quiz-master on national television in the early 1970s. He hosted the quiz-show, ‘Mastermind’, which consisted of weekly contestants facing questions on a variety of topics.
Ayodele Awojobi was also an inventor and while serving as a lecturer at the university, he successfully performed an experiment with his own family car, an Opel Olympia Rekord, and converted it from a right-hand drive to a left-hand drive.
He researched further with motor engines and was able to re-design the vehicle so that it was able to move in both forward and backward directions with all four pre-existing gears. This gave the hybrid vehicle, which he named ‘Autonov 1’, the ability to achieve its highest speeds in a moment, in the normal reverse direction.
He also served as a political activist and raised his voice through the national newspapers and magazines, going as far as suing the Federal Government of Nigeria for what he strongly believed was a widespread election rigging.
He was also a noted author and wrote several political books over the course of his career highlighting his ideological struggles against what he perceived to be a corrupt federal government.
Ayodele Awojobi was an inventor par excellence. He converted his own family car from right-hand drive to a left-hand drive. He also made a hybrid vehicle which was able to move in both forward and backward directions with all four pre-existing gears. He named the vehicle ‘Autonov 1’..
Awards & Achievements
Ayodele Awojobi was the first African to be awarded the ‘Doctor of Science’ degree in Mechanical Engineering, at the Imperial College London. He received the degree at the age of 37, which is considered a major accomplishment, as the degree is only exceptionally and rarely awarded to a scholar under the age of 40.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Iyabode Mabel Awojobi and had children.
He died on September 23, 1984, at the age of 47. He was buried at the Ikorodu Cemetery, Lagos