Bode Omojola

Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship

Bode Omojola is an amazing professor. Despite the exceptional qualities that these words depict, the words and sentiment are actually quite common when one reads through Bode’s teaching evaluations and when one talks to his colleagues here on campus and in the Five Colleges. Bode is an amazing professor. He brings an exceptional blend of a creative and scholarly excellence to his work, and we are here today to celebrate him for those outstanding achievements.

To say that he is prolific is an understatement. Bode is the author of six books and more than 3 dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and more than 50 lectures and papers delivered in the past 20 years. He is a noted and highly distinguished scholar for his works on African and Yoruba identity, agency, and creative ethnomusicology. His book, Yoruba Music in the Twentieth Century: Identify, Agency, and Performance Practice explored a wide range of intersections between music, the role of performers, and traditions and social interactions – and how various traditional and contemporary genres are interconnected with social issues, gender inequality, religious identity and practice. There is very little that Bode does not capture when he weaves his complex analyses and narratives dissecting music, tradition, and meaning. In a volume on Nigerian music and social dynamics, he brought together the world’s leading scholars of Nigerian music to produce a volume that explores the role of music in community life, enculturation and education, political institutions, historical processes, belief systems, and social hierarchies.

There is depth and sophistication to Bode’s scholarship – and yet, his work is accessible and digestible to a wide range of audience. A wonderful quality for those of us who read to learn – and when we pick up his books, we do.

Yet, Bode’s scholarly contributions are only one part of his contributions to our intellectual and creative community. Bode is also a performer and writer. Last spring, we collectively watched the amazing performance of Irin Ajo (Odyssey of a Dream) an opera for soloists, chorus, African percussion, and symphony orchestra. This was Bode’s creation and it was an inspiring collaboration – as he himself noted:

“Many students that we saw on stage were performing with a Western symphony orchestra for the first time,” he said. “Likewise, many members of the orchestra were participating in an African music performance for the very first time. In addition to demonstrating the energizing and creative power of diversity, that collaboration spoke to the dedication of our students and their ability to work together and explore uncharted intellectual and cultural pathways.”

One student who experienced the stage for the first time in the performance said of his work: “He absolutely loves what he does, and it showed throughout the performance.”

Indeed, Bode loves what he does, and as seems fitting, we too love what he does. From his work on the African Music and Folk Opera, his many contributions to the Five College African Studies Council, to the Hip-hop and Global Citizenship project, the Five College Ethnomusicology Committee, and performances and lectures too numerous to count here. We celebrate his work, his scholarship. He is an amazing and inspiring colleague. Please join me in honoring Bode Omojola with the Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship.