CU Holds 44th Public Lecture on Restoring the Dignity of the Black Man: Challenges and Prospects
Covenant University held its 44th Public Lecture on Friday, November 6, 2015, in Canaan Land, Ota; delivered by a highly esteemed professor of Mass Communication, Professor Cecil Blake. The lecture titled, ‘Engaging the Mission to Restore the Dignity of the Black Man: Challenges and Prospects,’ was a clarion call for African renaissance as typified by Covenant University’s mission.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charles Ayo expressed his excitement at the peculiarity of the lecture which touches on the fundamentals of the existence of Covenant University. He enjoined all participants to endeavour to be enriched by the lecture presentation from the renowned Professor of Communication.
Professor Ayo stated that the University’s mandate is, ‘Raising a new generation of leaders,’ who shall redeem the battered image of the Black race and restore her lost glory. According to him, African nations have bemoaned the state of under-development of the continent long enough, and it’s high time they began to face the reality that it is no longer tenable that colonial masters are responsible for the under-development of Africa.
The Vice-Chancellor noted that some countries in Africa became independent several decades back and have shown little or no development across the socio-economic and political landscape, since. “Today,” he said, “the continent is overly dependent on foreign solutions to its local problems in the area of health, energy, environment etc.”
He also said that Africa lays claim to being the cradle of civilisation, having one of the oldest universities in the world, the Al-Azhar University founded in 970-972 AD in Cairo, Egypt. “It is, however, worrisome,” he said, “that no African university made it to the top 100 universities in the world. All these are pointers to the under-development of the continent which the 21st century higher education institution like Covenant University must address as a matter of necessity.”
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Registrar of Covenant University, Pastor Olamide Olusegun, stated that God has endowed the institution with an army of reformers that will rebuild the waste places, repair the wasted cities and raise the desolations of many generations. “As a platform of reformation and change, it is our tradition here at Covenant University, to search out men and women who are endowed with the necessary skills and knowledge base, to proffer solutions to the arrays of challenges besetting mankind and the black race in particular. Sitting with us today, is one of such men, Professor Cecil Blake,” he said.
In his lecture, Professor Blake, stated that the title of the lecture was intended to serve as a celebration of a mission that is not common in academia; noting that the “mission to restore the dignity of the black man,” has a long and complex history, dating back to the days of slavery in the United States and the Caribbean.
“What is unique about this presentation, however,” he said, “is the engagement of a mission to ‘restore the dignity of the Black man’ by an institution of higher learning in Africa. Not only is the mission very clearly stated, the institution, Covenant University, founded by its Chancellor Dr. David Oyedepo, in 2002, is structured and designed to prepare a new generation of leaders in Africa, who would be the vanguard and facilitators of bringing into fruition, the mission with which we are concerned today.”
Professor Blake, who lectures in the Department of Mass Communication, Covenant University, stated that one cannot engage the above stated mission without having an understanding of the background and context that necessitate the restoration of the dignity of the Black man. “Both,” he said, “are deeply anchored in the history of events in the lives of Africans dating back to the days of slavery. Without a firm grasp of the history that gave rise to the need to restore the dignity of the black man, it is not possible to appreciate and marvel at the accomplishment of creating Covenant University.”
He explained that Africa went from denigration to restoration schemes which started with ‘Pan-Blackism,’ then to ‘Pan-Africanism’ as a means of restoring Black /African Dignity. “There were many others in the 19th century, he mentioned, “who were vigorously engaged in vindicating the African past. Bishop Henry McNeal Turner was a firm advocate of respect for the African past and a strong campaigner for Black exodus to Africa. Martin Delaney, a physician is also well-known for his passionate and well-argued speeches on Black vindication, Malcom X, Marcus Garvey etc. The list is not exhaustive.”
In the conclusion of his lecture, Professor Blake stated, “In retrospect, all of the initiatives taken by the leaders I discussed in the early part of this presentation regarding their mission to restore the dignity of the Black man, did not emerge with successes that became sustained and institutionalised. Here at Covenant University, not only do we have a sustained, highly organised and firmly institutionalised setting to actively work towards the successful realisation of our mission, we are creating a new generation of leaders who will sustain the drive. We continue to work hard to improve the quality of output necessary to achieve the mission, because we are aware of challenges that need to be met mainly in terms of creating a critical mass that would make a national and indeed, continental impact.
He encouraged the Management, faculty, staff and students of the University not to leave the venue of the lecture without a reaffirmation of their commitment to the core values which make up the pillars upon which the mission of the University is buttressed. He re-stated the core values of the University for the benefit of distant audiences, as that of Spirituality, Possibility Mentality, Capacity Building, Integrity, Responsibility, Diligence and Sacrifice.
He emphasised that these were the guiding principles and values that drive the mission to restore the dignity of the Black man that are manifest within the context of the ‘Total Man Concept’ of Covenant University.