Victor C. Uchendu: Historian who taught at Illinois killed in Africa to prevent his becoming mayor

Historians in the News

The Center for African Studies at the University
of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is very sadden to
share the news that Prof. Victor C. Uchendu,
founding director of our unit has passed away on
December 7, 2006. He was buried in Nsirimo, Nigeria on December 22, 2006.

It is particularly troubling because we
understand from his family that he was killed in
his home at Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria, and
that individuals were hired to kill him to stop
him from becoming the mayor of his community.
According to the Nigerian newspaper, Vanguard,
this violent crime has not been fully or
satisfactorily solved. We are still seeking more information on this case.

Prof. Uchendu was the director of the Center for
African Studies, University of Illinois from
1971-1980. He led a very distinguished career,
as you can see from the following biography published by his family.

We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to
his family and friends during this difficult time.

From the faculty and staff of the Center for
African Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Jan. 1 st 1930 - Dec. 7th 2006

Our father (Prof. Victor Chikezie Uchendu) was
the first child of the late Ezeji Isaac Uchendu
Aburonye, of Umuerim Nsirimo, and the late
Enyidiya Sabanna Nwampagha Uchendu of Ezu na Erim
Autonomous Community Umuahia South Local Government.

He was definitely in his mother's womb during the
Abia Women's Riot in 1929; hence his mother, a
woman activist, could not participate in the
Women's Rally taking place in Aba. The exact day
and month of his birth could only be placed in late 1929 or early 1930.

Education: Our father started school in 1938 at
the Infant School and attended a variety of
Catholic schools including: St. Joseph's Catholic
School in Nsirimo, St. Jude's Amapu Ntigha and St. Anthony's Nbawsi.

In our father's primary school days, he told us
that he made blunders in his best subject
(mathematics) during the Standard 6 final exams
(1945). He finished the paper 40 minutes early,
copied his answers and submitted his papers.
Those who completed their papers 40 minutes later
came and compared answers with their classmate
(Chike Obi) and thought they had failed. Mr. V.
Njoku, the headmaster at the time, solved the
problems and showed that his "Agar Khan" grade
class mathematician was wrong and others were right.

Our father passed the Standard 6 exam probably
because his processes were correct. The lesson of
that exam on patience and thoroughness guided his
life as a pupil teacher where he came first in
all the Teacher's Grading exams, and received the
highest number of distinctions in the Teachers
High Elementary exams of 1951 to 1953 at Bishop
Shanahan Teacher's College (BSTC). As a mark of
distinction, our father was invited to teach
Geography at BSC Secondary from Class 1-5 in
1953. The following year he was moved over to the Teachers Training Wing of
Bishop Shanahan College.

He was an academic giant: a "teacher of
teachers", an administrator, a social
anthropologist, and an economic and community
leader. After his college education at BSTC, he
taught for several years before proceeding to the
University College, Ibadan, in 1959 where he
studied Economics. "Twice-a- Prize" winner at the
University College, he led his class, earning the
Departmental Prize (1959-60) and the Faculty
Prize (1960-61); the first student of the Faculty to achieve such a
distinction at Ibadan. He obtained the following
degrees both here and abroad: B.Sc. Econ (Hons)
London University; M.A. and PhD from Northwestern
University, USA. As a recipient of a Rockefeller
scholarship to Northwestern University in
Evanston, Illinois, our father completed his
masters and Ph.D. in record time of three years;
a record that still stands today.

Professor Uchendu has taught at all levels of
education and has been associated with teaching
and lectureship in three continents since 1966;
USA (1965-1968; 1971-1980), Africa (l969-1971;
1980-2006), and Asia (1970). He has lectured at
over 250 universities and institutions and is a
widely published author. Suffice it to say that
he was an eminent figure that served on numerous
bodies in a variety of capacities, including, but not limited to the

* Consultant, Dept. of Sociology, Abia State University (2003-2006)
* Director of the Institute of Public Policy
and Administration, University of Calabar, Cross River ( 1988-200 I )
* Professor, Dept. of Sociology, University
of Calabar, Cross River (1980- 1986)
* Foundation Dean of the Graduate School,
University of Calabar, Cross River (1982-1985)
* Appointed Professor of Anthropology by the
University of Illinois, Urbana, in April, 1970
and assumed office in March, 1971 as the
Foundation Director of the University's African Studies Centre
* President, African Studies Association of North America (1976)
* Committee member of the Harvard College
Overseer's Committee to the Dept. of
Afro­American Studies of Harvard University (1974-1977)
* Consultant to many International
Organizations, including the U.S.A. Office of
Education, the National Science Foundation, the World Bank and UNESCO,
* Listed in the American Men and Women of
Science (1973); Outstanding Educators of America
(1975); Who's Who in the Midwestern USA (since
1975); and Who's Who in the United States (1979).

A professor of Sociology and Anthropology for
over 30 years, he has taught and held academic
and administrative positions in leading Nigerian
and international universities including Stanford
University, Makerere University, University of
Ghana, Legon and University of Illinois, Urbana.
He was a widely published scholar with 15 books
authored, co-authored or edited by him. His
contributions to academic journals are equally impressive and commendable.

Other Titles Held by Prof. V.C. Uchendu
* Member of two Title Societies in Nsirimo:
Eze Okonko (1986) and Eze Ji (1978)
* Izumba I of Ngurunwenkwo (1988) by His
Royal Highness Eze I.E. Nwachukwu-Udaku
* Ebube Dike I of Okata (1989) by His Royal Highness Igwe Dr. M.A. Okoro
Philanthropic Efforts of Prof. V.C. Uchendu

Our father has always been a great
philanthropist. He has contributed to many causes
in church and society. He was a founder and
manager of institutions that promote charities
and benefactions. He founded the Enyidiya Uchendu
Foundation that contributed to secondary and university educational efforts.

In 2003, he founded the Dr. Gann Ewulonu
Foundation that encourages the training of
general medical practitioners at Abia State
Teaching Hospital. The Foundation also provides
cash prizes to Nsirimo students in primary and
secondary schools. The Foundation is made
possible by the generous contributions from
members of the Eze's family and Committee of Friends he assembled.

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