Heart of Arts

Professor Yetunde Makinde (1954-2023): Good Night

Toyin Falola

The news of her transition, on November 21st, to the next glorious phase of her life reached me at the University of Calgary, Canada. Speaking like her daughter, the bearer of sadness recounted the multiple sides of her life, from the major ones of her contributions to the development of Babcock University to the minor ones, such as reserving food for her on the day of her wedding. Flashes of memory of Professor Makinde, the second Vice-Chancellor of Babcock University, hit me; all the good things about him were relayed to me by various professors. I see goodness in people. As soon as I sent my condolence to Pastor Makinde, I promised myself to compose this piece before I left Canada.

Death reserves resentful power and sometimes uses it to strike unhealable tragedy into the lives of humans. So absolute is its authority that victims often do not have a say in what takes and when their lives are taken away from them. Meanwhile, the tragedy of death does not lie alone in that the lives of precious people are forcefully taken away from them, whence their lovely dreams, efforts and determination are cut short. Instead, it inheres in the understanding that the passing of a loved one always digs deep into one’s pool of emotions, where occasional discomfort surges on account of remembering them. At the same time, great people are defined so because they have made great strides in the course of their existence, strides that chiefly affect the lives of the people around them positively and productively. In essence, remembering an individual such as this comes occasionally truly, but the occasions are usually frequent. Such is the case for the late Professor Yetunde Makinde. The sudden death of this influential scholar-administrator has brought a sour problem in the minds and hearts of her loved ones, of which I am one. I am an admirer of her excellent approach to issues and affairs that stretch beyond the confines of academia. Outside of academia is an unending list of varied engagements, all of which duly contribute to the status of our collective existence. This suggests that without making substantial efforts in them, too, it is mostly unlikely that humans can attain their fullest potential. It is impressive to note, too, that even in academia, our late Professor reached the pinnacle of her career.

Mrs Yetunde Makinde blazed the trail with numerous outstanding ideas that she brought alive at Babcock University, which means contributions that have continually promoted the institution by putting it in the spotlight of relevance and international patronage. Among other things, the idea of Babcock Guest House, as I was told, was conceived by that stellar academic and shaped to existence through her unwavering commitment to the project. The process of conceiving exemplary ideas is filled with progressive exposure to information and knowledge. In that case, people who bring ideas do not develop them from a tabula rasa; they must have dedicated a chunk of their time to a profitable enterprise from where they invested their intellectual resources to create and invent appropriately. Interestingly, the conception of ideas, even when it involves the complex and meticulous process identified above, is the first step in changing the dynamics of events. Implementation and execution of ideas are vital to bring the conceived ideas to fruition. For Babcock University to have created the architectural wonder that is called Babcock Guest House is a testament to the woman’s undying urge for excellence and quality. Professor Yetunde Makinde was, therefore, an excellent academic who was able to put into use the resourcefulness of her mind to produce impeccable results with richly incredible quality. Today, the woman has departed from us, and we cannot but feel the excruciating pain.

Babcock University is a private university, and by virtue of that status, it is usually continuous in growth and identity. Private universities are different from their public counterparts in that the former usually evolve in accordance with different factors. For one, private universities develop their programs in line with the emerging realities because they must produce human power that meets the workforce demands of contemporary times. To that extent, they are meant to produce constantly refined ideas that would bring out the best in them. In comparison, academic engagements are not exclusive projects that promote a school and solidify its name in the community of schools. Non-academic projects combine to bring an extraordinary quality to a school. To that extent, non-academic projects also define how a campus will be seen from the outside or the inside. How much more can we define the excellence of our late Professor than revelling in the understanding that Babcock University supermarket was also her initiative? Any tertiary institution that does not provide maximum comfort or quality support structures for its academics has no business being recognized as top-tier in the activity of knowledge production. This is underscored by the awareness that comfortability helps in the sustenance of quality academic culture. If people would be productive in their engagements, they must have sufficient production comfortability that would bring learners and academics alike the necessary inducement to do their work.

Photo: Professor Makinde and husband

If hard work was to be a human, our late Professor was hard work personified. To have played impressive roles in ensuring that the exemplary academic culture of the University was sustained reveals a woman who is selfless and relentless. Anyone who has attained her position and age would understand that there is little that can sometimes bother people who have accomplished something with their lives when you come across individuals who are dedicated to particular courses of action in spite of what they have done with their own lives, that shows individuals with a sense of commitment and dedication, displayed in the spirit of progress and development. Babcock University remains an institution with towering accomplishments, not by mere wishful thinking. The results that are available today in the school are a testament to people’s dedication and interest. The landscape of the school, which remains one of the important projects that promote the campus and facelift it among all others, is a legacy that was achieved by the late Professor Yetunde Makinde. The success of the project indicates that the rare gem was not only a lover or academic engagement, but she was also a woman with an expensive taste for aesthetic brilliance. No one would set their feet on the University’s environment without identifying the originality, ambience and radiance of the citadel, all because there was a woman who essentially contributed to the process that made that a reality. Whereas what she did was to organize the landscape impressively, the results it brought to the campus are unquantifiable.

Professor Yetunde Makinde’s contributions to the development of Babcock University stand as the proverbial hyperdontia whose teeth cannot be accurately numbered. Her contributions cannot be quantified or exhausted. While she did exemplary work that brought desirable results and outcomes to the school generally, she did not rest on her oars regardless. Constantly seeking the most excellent results for the academic environment, she was greatly responsible for managing the ventures of the University. To occupy this position indicates the readiness and determination to make the place an absolute success. In every organization that is recording progress, there must have been the persistent efforts of some selfless leaders who offer immeasurable services that would come with great results for the entire community. These leaders are outstanding ones who remain consistent with their efforts over the understanding that everyone would not always commit themselves to general courses of action that can bring progress to the community. They understand that the possibility of having altruistic individuals in important positions is very low, and they would not allow this to bring down the procedures, efforts and determination of the dedicated ones. Factually, when an organization is not producing effective and excellent results, it must have been that it is lacking in the outstanding services of exemplary people who would not compromise the quality of their enterprise. The late Professor Yetunde Makinde belonged to the former category, especially with relation to issues and activities around Babcock, as she usually dedicated her efforts to the progress of the school.

Our late Professor was a success in her career field. As a professor of agriculture, it is more than impressive that she contributed substantially to academic discourses and conversations that are concerned about her field. She published educative pieces while she also performed laudably in her teaching engagements. It should be emphasized here that much as she had many other things that she dedicated her life to, Yetunde Makinde was an effective teacher with extraordinary enthusiasm for quality intellectualism. Her subtle relationship with students was one of her celebrated qualities, as students believed that they were exemplary because of her. Many individuals with a history of educational interchange between them have attested to the uniqueness of the woman’s approach to educational services. She did her work effortlessly and brought results even from individuals that otherwise appear irredeemable. She raised the bar of excellence, service and quality and Babcock University cannot but feel the vacuum of her space in the proximal future. She touched the lives of many, and it reveals more why people have expressed their pains at the discovery that she has deserted us to the great beyond. Although she had started the good work that placed the university in a desirable place in the global community, the fact of her unexpected departure would bring drawbacks that can only be surmounted with time. Your loss is a sore one to the academic community of the world, and we will always celebrate your outstanding existence.

Adieu Professor Yetunde Makinde,

Adieu to the lover of children and the matron of development.

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