“The late Ajayi was an important part of the anti-colonial, and post-independence, scholarship that successfully established the fact that Africa had a history which pre-dated European encounters with the continent. Mentor of many generations of historians, Ade Ajayi was an ethical researcher and outstanding scholar, who with others established the Ibadan School of History.”
Born in Ikole-Ekiti State on May 26, 1929, Ajayi started education at St. Paul’s School, Ikole, at the age of five.
He then proceeded to Ekiti Central School for preparation as a pupil teacher, after which he attended Igbobi College in Lagos.
He eventually gained admission to the University of Ibadan, where he studied History.
In 1952, Ajayi travelled abroad and studied at the Leicester University under the tutelage of Prof. Jack Simmons, a brilliant Oxford-trained historian.
After graduation, he was a research fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, London from 1957-1958. He later returned to Nigeria and joined the history department of the University of Ibadan.
In 1964, he was made Dean of Arts at the University and later promoted a deputy Vice Chancellor. After his stint as deputy Vice Chancellor, he was made the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos in 1972.