The Great Ife Alumni Association draws its membership from graduates and associates of the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria (renamed Obafemi Awolowo University in 1987).
Since the late 60s, graduates of the university had come together to form an alumni association with the cities of Lagos and Ibadan as the main hubs. Indeed, Ibadan Branch was formally inaugurated in 1974 at the British Council Hall, Dugbe. With time, branches of the association spread to many of the urban centers in the country. Today, there is hardly any geographical zone in Nigeria that doesn’t boast of branches of the Great Ife Alumni Association. There are currently 20 financial member branches in Nigeria as follows: Ile-Ife (Home branch), Ibadan, Abeokuta Owo, Lagos, Osogbo, Ado-Ekiti, Benin-City, Ekpoma, Warri, Agbor, Abraka, Asaba, Onitsha, Awka, Port-Harcourt, Kaduna, Minna, Abuja and Sokoto. Many more branches will soon be accredited and dormant ones reactivated as soon as they meet the constitutional requirements.
The Great Ife Alumni Association, Nigeria has a National Executive Council (NEC) as its apex decision-making body comprising elected officials and chairmen of all the branches in the Nigerian federation. The NEC statutorily meets every quarter.
The alumni association has, over the years, made immense contributions to the development of the university, especially in the area of infrastructure and supporting the university administration to maintain standards. The alumni association has built and furnished a students residential hall – The Alumni Hall – which currently provides accommodation for hundreds of female undergraduates. Plans are underway to add two more blocks to the estate. Also, an Alumni Centre is under construction to serve as a secretariat for the association and guest house for visitors to the university.
The first chapter of the alumni association outside Nigeria was established in 1999 in Houston, Texas USA. It was indeed a trailblazer to the establishment of Nigerian Universities’ alumni associations in the Diaspora. The motivation was to create a channel to harness available human, intellectual, and material resources of Great Ife Alumni in the Diaspora.
The Houston branch organized the first ever international reunion of Great Ife Alumni in September 2000. At subsequent international reunions, new branches in Dallas/Fort Worth, California (San Francisco/Oakland), and New Jersey/New York were chartered. Our goal is to charter at least one branch in all states in the USA within a decade of existence of the association in the USA. The USA chapter is registered as a non-profit, TAX-EXEMPT organization with postal address at P.O. Box 6931, Houston, TX 77265-6931.
There is also a UK chapter of the Great Ife Alumni Association recently accredited by the National Chapter in Nigeria. We anticipate that the budding London branch will be able to facilitate the accreditation of new branches in major cities in UK and possibly in other European cities very soon.
Ultimately, our vision is to create a global network of Great Ife Alumni that will generate tremendous benefits through synergy, for our alma mater, our home country- Nigeria, and the various countries that we are residents/citizens. Through our interactions, we intend to foster the interest and welfare of the alumni. The hall mark team spirit of Great Ifes (as we refer to ourselves), our idealism and sensitivity to national issues all combined to motivate this spirit of coming together to give back to the university that immensely contributed to the attainment of our life goals and ambitions.
In sundry and diverse ways, Great Ife Alumni, individually and collectively, regularly contribute to the promotion of excellence and infrastructure development of our alma mater. The USA chapter of the Alumni Association has contributed over $35,000, as at December 2005, to the infrastructural development of the University in the areas of Computerization of some academic departments, the Transcript/Exam Records department, and also refurbishment of the University Health Center.
The alumni body, in the fine tradition of Great Ife intellectual prowess, periodically organizes seminars, symposia and workshops targeted at public enlightenment on issues ranging from immigrant health to taxation and investments. The USA chapter annually participates in voluntary community work at registered charity organizations in our local communities.
The Great Ife family is a happy one indeed, and the alumni are tied to the umbilical cord of a great alma mater whose moto is “For Learning and Culture”. The salutation/clarion call - “Great Ife!” is comparable to the chirping of mother hen to her grateful brood. It is absolutely impossible to attend University of Ife/Obafemi Awolowo University, and not be passionate about the institution.
The university was renamed Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in May 1987 in honor of its founding statesman and first Chancellor. The university had a student population of about 20,000 for the 2001 academic year and offers degrees in the following faculties;
Administration, Agriculture, Arts Education, Environmental Design and Management, Health Sciences and Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Law, Science, Social Sciences, Pharmacy, Technology (Engineering).
Great Ife is consistently the university with the most applicants in the JAMB (Joint Admission Matriculation Board) university entrance examination and is perhaps the most selective university in most courses. Ife is the University where Wole Soyinka (Nobel laureate in literature in 1986) was appointed and later promoted to full professorship in 1975. Members of Ife faculty hold doctorates and highest diplomas from virtually all the most venerated and hallowed universities of Europe, Britain, Canada and the United States. Further, alumni of Ife have earned top degrees and honors from the finest universities and organizations of the world.
The university is located at Ile-Ife, (Osun State) in the southwestern region of Nigeria. This places the university 200km northwest of Lagos, the commercial nerve center of West Africa. The university is about 2 hours 15 minutes drive from Lagos, to which it is connected by dual carriage roads. International visitors arriving in Lagos by air can reach the University within 3 hours of leaving the Lagos airport.
The university continues to attract international scholars and researchers especially from the United States. Many of the expatriate scholars study the Yoruba culture.
Ile-Ife, which literally means "Home of all men” is regarded in Yoruba mythology to be the site of divine creation. Ife is an ancient town, at least 1000 years old in its present location, with about 200,000 population. Most Ife people are students, artisans, farmers and traders. Ife is noted for its arts, carvings, and rituals to its pantheon of gods. Most importantly however, it is world famous for its naturalistic bronze heads and other metallurgical wonders. The artifact of Oduduwa’s head [the mythical progenitor of the Yoruba kingdoms] is included in the university's coat of arms.