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Dr. Jacob K. Olupona

Born in: Nigeria
Values Dear to Heart: Education, Equality, Peace
Profession: Harvard Professor
Specialization: African Studies

A Word From Our Founder

The essential prerequisite for nation building is a cohesive and coherent national education initiative that will advance the idea of a commonwealth for the diverse people of the Nigerian nation. Furthermore, this nation building initiative through education must speak directly to the nation’s educational challenges at every level, in elementary, vocational, secondary, post-secondary, and professional schools.

It is through a strong educational system that we can reform Nigeria’s national image, ethos, and unity. If we want good governance, we must look to education. If we want social justice, we must look to education. If we want to decrease poverty and increase literacy, we must look to education. If we want a skilled, disciplined, and hardworking labor force, we must look to education. If we truly want change in Nigeria, we must begin to rethink and reinvest in our education system.


Eve Kushner provides a detailed Life History of Professor Olupona covering many important events and topics from his early life in Niegria to the challenges of immigrating from Africa.

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A panel discussion held April 11, 2013, on the book City of 201 Gods: Ilé-Ifè in Time, Space, and the Imagination, by Dr. Jacob K. Olupona, Professor of African Religious Traditions at HDS. The event featured two respondents: Laura Grillo, Core Faculty, Mythological Studies Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Nimi Wariboko, Kathleen K. Stewart Professor of Social Ethics at Andover Newton Theological School.


On May 12, 2014, Professor Olupona reacted to the kidnapping by the jihadist group Boko Haram of hundreds of girls from a school in northeastern Nigeria mentioning that “in order to save the girls, the world must help Nigeria.”

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