This is truly not the best of times for the arts community, as death, in the last few months, has laid its icy hands on members. Only recently, Cameroun jazz-funk star, Manu Dibango and Congolese music legend, Aurlus Mabele, bowed to coronavirus, COVID-19.
Phebean Ogundipe, author of famous English textbooks, Practical English and Brighter Grammar has joined the league of heavenly choristers. She died March 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the United States. She was 92.
Ogundipe, nee Itayemi, was born in Esa-Oke, Osun on May 6, 1927. She had her elementary education in Esa-oke and Imesi-Ile. She later went to Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos, on a full scholarship for her secondary education.
Thereafter, she went to University of St Andrews, Scotland for a master’s of arts degree in English.Upon completion of her studies, she began her working career in the Federal Ministry of Education and served in different schools as an English teacher.
One of the schools was Queen’s College, Ede, where she met her husband, Adebayo Ogundipe.She also served as Deputy Chief Federal Adviser on Education and National Secretary for UNESCO.She was the acting director in the Federal Ministry of Education at the time of her retirement.
Her passion for English education led to her authorship of well-known English textbooks, Brighter Grammar, for elementary school and Practical English, for junior and senior secondary schools.
Upon retirement from public service, she co-founded a remedial educational institution, Top Tutors.In 1979 she received the National Honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
In her tribute to the dead author, the travel journalist Omolola Itayemi, said, “Popularly known as P.A. Ogundipe, she impacted us through her books and she deserves every honour for her contribution to education. A prolific author and first class educationist, she was assistant adviser on secondary education in the 70s, the golden age of Nigerian public service.”
“She ran the popular pre-varsity tutorial colleges, Top Tutors, Ilupeju, Lagos. If you knew the struggles students had to pass through to get the required Jamb and GCE scores for their preferred tertiary institutions, you’ll understand the role Ogundipe played in shaping an entire generation,” she wrote.
“Even in retirement, she was still going strong. Some years back, she released another best seller among her many books titled, Up-Country Girl – A personal journey and truthful portrayal of African culture,” Itayemi said. “The launch of the book in North Carolina had the elite of Nigeria’s literary class in Diaspora in attendance.”
Ogundipe used her time in retirement to promote Yoruba culture. One of her popular authored books, woven around the mythical tortoise, otherwise called ijapa, was Ijapa Tiroko Oko Ayanrinbo.
Said Itayemi: “Many of those books are now being used as text books to teach the younger generation of Yoruba children and to preserve our Yoruba Cultures for generations yet unborn. A savvy Ijesha woman, Ogundipe knew the art and business of books, she was still getting paid royalties on all of those books and educating the new generations.”
Phebean Ajibola Ogundipe Omo Ijesha aponoda. Omo Eleni a te I ka Omo Eleni Ewele. Omo Ogedengbe Agbogungboro o ti popo lʼoju Ogun. O kere lala sohun bi Sokotoropo, Eru o ba e o dʼeru bar a re”.She is survived by four sons and 10 grandchildren.