“The University is not a Place to go and Make Money” – Professor Kalu Uka

Professor Kalu Uka, veteran professor of drama and literature and a one time Head of Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Calabar, has stated that “The university is not a place to go and make money”.

He stated this today when he featured as guest of “The Public View”, a programme of Hit 95.9 FM radio station, Calabar. Professor Uka stated on the programme that this is his 50th year of serving as a university lecturer.

While recounting his experience as a university lecturer and assessing the contributions of staff unions to the survival of universities, he submitted that:

“The universities have been kept alive as much as they have been flogged also by the unions and union activities. They have been good watchdogs in some places but also badly misunderstood and I think the idea of having a union to fight for the poor is good. I don’t know if you know that the university also belongs to the poor. The university is not a place to go and make money.”

Professor Uka added that: “I keep telling people who want to go into academics that ‘there is no money here o! There is no money here. If you want money, go into politics. If you want money, go and do business’.

In the university, it is the intellectual exercise, the stimulation of young people to find ideas and find the realization of those ideas that you concentrate on. But the assurance that at the end of the month you can get your salary even though that has been a little threatened by the economy of the country, but it remains somewhere to be.”

Professor Kalu Uka (right) with Linda and Cornelius Ellah, at a recent event in Calabar, Cross River State.

He also assessed the standard of learning in Nigerian universities and identified current practices such as lecturers’ attendance at international conferences, the existence of exchange programs and the culture of having external examiners, as laudable practices that promote the exchange of ideas and research findings.

Professor Uka is reputed to be the first black skinned person to teach English at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. He disclosed that he felt like a good ambassador of Africa, when he achieved that feat in the 1960s.

He said: “I was once addressed by a group of boys as a Nigger. For a Nigger to be talking to the British, the Scottish, the Irish in their own language and beating them at it and then that their children spoke very bad language, very bad English, could not spell well, made me feel this is distinctively an African gift to show the world that we are not the Barbarians that they felt.”

Speaking on the impact of the social media on writing, Professor Uka submitted that it has “started to water down the language…. It has changed the direction of language. The language doesn’t get any more into the depth of culture, the depth of feeling, the depth of message that we expect serious writing to be.

I think they should watch it and they should come under our umbrella and be taught the distinction between what we call linguistic registers.”

He announced that a Foundation is being set up in his name, to mentor younger writers and communicators.

In this vein, Mr Kamonke Abam, a Media Practitioner who also featured today on “The Public View”, disclosed that Kalu Uka Foundation would be unveiled on April 7th, when Professor Uka’s 80th birthday would be celebrated.

“The Public View” is anchored by Iwara Iwara and Onyekachi Nwosu. It is aired from 8:00am  to 9:00am every Saturday on Hit 95.9 FM radio station.

Professor Kalu Uka had been in Calabar recently during an earlier event. He was the Book reviewer at the public presentation of a book titled: “Stepping Forward with Uti J.D. Agba.” The book is written by Goddy Jedy Agba and Matthias Okoi-Uyouyo.

Cornelius Ellah
Twitter: @lin_cornellah
Facebook: Cornelius Ellah

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