Thank you for bringing John Peel’s obituary and as Africanist to a wider audience .
The chief mourner here in Nigeria is my ‘brother’, Professor Olusegun Oke,founding Vice Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology.
Ṣẹgun, nlẹ, o Awe mi! Johnnu ti lọ O fi uku ṣ’ẹgbọn ria. Ẹ ra pari uṣẹ ẹ̀! Uku d’oro. Uku ṣe’kà. Ọ m’Ẹni rere lọ!´(I commiserate with Professor Oke. John’s death, as we Africans believe, has given him seniority over those of us who were older than he was. His death has ended the marvelous work he did. O death, where is thy sting?)
For his study of the Ijesa, John interviewed and interacted deeply and extensively with both the Ijesa indigenous and contemporary elites and enjoyed the warm collaboration of my late and dear uncle, Owa Agunlejika for his still important study of the Ijesa and their entrepreneurial skills and tradition.
I have not been in touch with many of my contemporaries in a while so I was not aware as I might have been of John’ last but yet to be published work. As a social anthropologist, John’s place in the understanding of the effects of African/Yoruba contact with Western Europe and North America (WENA) is substantially entrenched. His position as theorist and interpreter of the Western intellectual tradition on matters African is not only progressive but pioneering in a milieu that produced Oxford historia, Trevor Roper, of Africa-has-no-history infamy. In this regard I have difficulty understanding why John would consider ORISA … a religion, as his obituarist claims for the title of his yet to be published work.
A scholar of high subtlety and sensitive depth has passed away but his contribution will remain important both for our understanding of the European mind as well as light to our yet darkened understanding of ourselves.
We commiserate with his dear wife and family. Eyin Johnnu o ni baje. Sun re o Johnnu. (John’s name will be etched in gold in the hearts of many, and may he rest in peace.)