Sophie Oluwole

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Sophie Bosede Oluwole (May 12, 1935 – 23 December 2018) was an African philosopher.

Sophie Bosede Oluwole
SchoolYoruba school of philosophy African philosophy
Main interests
epistemology, ontology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of language,

Oluwole was the first female doctorate degree holder in philosophy in Nigeria.[1] She was a practitioner of Yoruba philosophy, a way of thinking which stems from the ethnic group based in Nigeria. She was vocal about the role of women in philosophy, and the disproportionate representation of African thinkers in education.[2][3]

Life and work[edit]

Sophie Bosede Oluwole was born on May 12, 1935 to Edo parents. She also had Nupe heritage, as her great-grandfather was Tapa, the Yoruba word for the Nupe people. She was raised in Ekiti State. She went to school in Ife, and was critical of the education system in the 1940s, saying a woman's career prospects were "not your ambition: it was your parents' ambition."[4] In an interview with Jesusegun Alagbe, a journalist for The PUNCH Newspapers, Oluwole describes an event during school, where she was sent to a hospital to distribute food and medicine, and was scared by the desperately sick patients, saying "That day, I knew I was not going to be a nurse."[4]

She studied History, Geography and Philosophy at the UNILAG in Lagos, and eventually settled on philosophy. Following her first degree, she was employed in UNILAG for a time as an assistant lecturer in 1972, and went on to complete her PhD in philosophy at the University of Ibadan. Oluwole is the first female doctorate degree holder in philosophy in Nigeria.[1] Oluwole taught African Philosophy at UNILAG for six years between 2002 and 2008.

Oluwole's teachings and works are generally attributed to the Yoruba school of philosophical thought, which was ingrained in the cultural and religious beliefs(Ifá) of the various regions of Yorubaland. According to Oluwole, this branch of philosophy predates the Western tradition, as the ancient African philosopher Orunmila predates Socrates by her estimate. These two thinkers, representing the values of the African and Western traditions, are two of Oluwole's biggest influences, and she compares the two in her book Socrates and Orunmila.[5]

She died in the early hours of 23 December 2018, aged 83.[6]


  • (1992) Witchcraft, Reincarnation and the God-Head (Issues in African Philosophy);
  • (1997) Philosophy and Oral Tradition;
  • (2014) Socrates and Ọ̀rúnmìlà: Two Patron Saints of Classical Philosophy;
  • (2014) African Myths and Legends of Gender (with Akin Sofoluwe).

Secondary literature[edit]

  • Remembering the African Philosopher, Abosede Sophie Oluwole: A Biographical Essay, Ademola K. Fayemi, in Filosofia Theoretica, Issue Dedicated to Late Prof. Sophie Oluwole.
  • Sophie Olúwọlé's Major Contributions to African Philosophy, Hypatia, Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 May 2020.


  1. ^ a b "Philosopher urges Nigerians to embrace indigenous knowledge, languages". The Guardian (Nigeria). Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  2. ^ "Salute to Orunmila as Sophie Oluwole hosts Dutch film-maker". The Punch. December 25, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Seada Nourhussen (June 2, 2017). "'Western philosophy has been behind for centuries'". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "My mum never believed I could become a professor –Sophie Oluwole".
  5. ^ Ajeluorou, Anote. "Socrates and Orunmila… Putting Premium On Africa's Indigenous Philosophy". The Guardian (Nigeria). Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Buhari, Tinubu, Ofeimun mourn as Sophie Oluwole dies at 83". 24 December 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018.

External links[edit]