By British Council Nigeria

20 January 2020 - 01:15

Prof Duro Oni

Thanks to you Professor Duro Oni, cultural guru and distinguished scholar, saw his career catapult thanks to his involvement as a young man in the British Council Artists Fellowship programme - where several theatre practitioners picked from across Nigeria were sponsored for residency in the UK. 

In 1973 young Duro Oni was a theatre stage technician at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, until his nomination for the British Council Artists Fellowship programme in 1975. From 1975-76, the British Council gave him the opportunity to join a Theatre Project firm in London. There, he worked with some of the top designers around the world such as Richard Pilbrow, Robert Ornbol and Robert Reed.

He never wanted to be anything else, but a theatre artist — a man of the arts, a man of letters, a man of the humanities.

His wide exposure to the theatre landscape in the UK launched his appointment as Head Auditoria Management/Theatre technical Manager at the University of Lagos, upon his return from the fellowship in 1976. 

Over the next four decades, he rose through the ranks in UNILAG and the public sector, serving in several senior positions including as Director-General of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation, Special Adviser to the Hon. Minister of Youth and Sports, Special Adviser to the Hon. Minister of Culture and Social Welfare and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos. Professor Duro Oni was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services) at the University of Lagos from February 2013 to February 2017. 

Across his career, he has used the learning he gained through the British Council to ‘give back’ to Nigeria.

“Here, I have spent a considerable part of my career training theatre artists, ensuring that they understand both the theoretical issues of their training as well the practical aspects. This is a profession where people, who don’t even have any training can also excel, by just having an inborn talent,” he says.

A versatile Academic and Administrator, Professor Duro Oni has nine books and over 60 academic publications in national and international outlets. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and also Fellow, Society of Nigerian Theatre Artistes. He holds the BFA & MFA degrees from the California Institute of the Arts and a PhD in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan.