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TRIBUTE: Farewell, Prof Deji Femi-Pearse, OFR

MD (Aberdeen), FRCP (Edinburgh), D.F.M. & H (Liverpool), FMCP (Nig.), FWACP, former Provost, College of Medicine, former Acting Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos.

Late Prof. Femi-Pearse.

Early years, Education and

Training

Professor Ayodeji (Deji) Femi-Pearse was born in Lagos on September 18,1932. He was the first child of Dr Jamieson Townsend Femi-Pearse and Mrs Elsie Omolara Femi-Pearse (nee Savage); and the first grandson of Canon James Pearse and Mrs Caroline Olayinka Pearse (nee Cole) of the St. Jude’s Church Ebute-Metta fame.

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He spent his early years in the parsonage (Ondo Street, Ebute-Metta). From 1946 to 1951 he had a brilliant secondary education at the famous Church Missionary Society (CMS) Grammar School, Lagos, founded some 150 years ago. From 1953 to 1959, he trained as a medical doctor at Aberdeen University in Scotland. Within a year at Aberdeen, he had won the second-class prize in Medical Chemistry.

Medical Chemistry.

Young Dr. Femi-Pearse returned home immediately in 1959 driven by his extraordinary sense of service and patriotism. He served as House Officer and Registrar at the General Hospital, Lagos from 1960 to 1963. when, propelled yet again, by a strongly felt desire to update and upgrade his Knowledge and skills, he returned to the United Kingdom for postgraduate training in Edinburgh and Liverpool, respectively.

In 1964. he got at the first attempt the Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh). But that was just the beginning; for he had set his sights much higher and was to choose no better academic and professional environment in which to excel than the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and College of Medicine which he joined in 1965 as Senior Registrar. The rewards were enviable.

Famiiy Life

As the first-born son, Deji was a true “egbon” to his siblings and cousins. He married Ibilola Olatunbsun Akinosho on May 3.1962 and are blessed with four children. Deji and Ibilola brought their children up in strong African tradition. Ibilola was the disciplinarian and Deji would be the one to call the erring child into his study for a frank talk.

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He loved family life and would very often plan trips to out of the way places for adventure, and it was during some of these road trips that the children would learn of his love for certain types of artistes such as James Last. Acker Bilk. Nat King Cole, Nina and Frederick. Englebert Humperdinck and Abba. He would play the extended play cartridges with the chinks singing along.

Deji and Ibilola instilled in the children the value of hard work. He abhorred laziness and sloppiness and expected all to keep up with his “Were Were Pearse” pace. Any display of sloth would be met with a barrage of abuses like “sondoko” ’were”,”obolagido”and”obo Africa”. He later added phrases like “babalawo service “ to his repertoire.

When they bought the first piece of land at Whispering Palms, the entire family would go for the weekend just to clear the land, picking debris and stones out of the sand. It was a collective effort. Everyone played a role in the development of the venture.

With their encouragement, this practice extended to the grandchildren where Gbeminiyi became the water sports person; Omiete setup a games room; Tobi and Kilali worked as cashiers and Damilola sold entrance tickets at the gate.

Deji was passionate about Africa’s development and innovation capacity. He believed in local industries often encouraged artisans to fabricate different concepts. He longed for the technology transfer oportunities available to scientists globally for local science and technology developments.

Higher Degree and

Fellowship awards

This distinguished Guest Lecturer’s sterling intellectual and professional qualities were soon to earn him several outstanding awards and recognitions:

*Research Fellow, Instructor and Assistant Physician, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York, 1966-1967;

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*Doctor of Medicine (MD) of the University of Aberdeen on the presentation of a thesis entitled Ventilatory, Function, including Anthropometric Correlations in Nigerian 1970;

Fellow of the Medical Council of Nigeria F.M.C.P(Nigeria),1971:

  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians F.R.C.P (Edinburgh), 1973;
  • Fellow of the West African College of Physicians, 1975;
  • Member, International Sponsoring Committee and Chair/President of the Clinical Section, 4th International Conference on Tetanus, Dakar. 1975.

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