IUPUI Faculty Member Earns Special Title in Africa

Bessie House-Soremekun and Dr. Maurice A.E. Soremekun

Bessie House-Soremekun (right) received the Egba National Award of Excellence at a special ceremony. With her is her husband, Dr. Maurice A.E. Soremekun (left).

IUPUI faculty member Bessie House-Soremekun has spent years building expertise in such fields as economic development and entrepreneurship—work that earned her a distinctive honor last November. During a trip to Nigeria, the IU School of Liberal Arts professor was awarded the title of “Chief” by Oba (King) Michael Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, the Okukenu IV, Alake of Egbaland.

According to Pastor Peter Omole, “the title of chief is a very high honor in the cultural, historical, and contemporary context of African society.” Nominees for chieftaincy go through a rigorous and competitive vetting process. Candidates for chieftaincy must also have performed deeds through the years to uplift the Nigerian society.

House-Soremekun’s efforts to improve the economic future of Africa, particularly Nigeria, was a factor in her selection. She has spoken at past public gatherings about the issues as they affect African life, and she plans to return for more meetings during 2013.

“Only a few people in Nigeria are elevated to chieftaincy status, which means the individual is part of the ruling elite,” House-Soremekun says. “It means you are part of an inner circle of political advisors that are working to improve the country and the society as a whole. We are representing African culture and society and will help others understand the glory and richness of African culture and history, as well as promote better ties between Africa and other countries.”

House-Soremekun is a professor of political science and of Africana studies; an adjunct professor of philanthropy; a public scholar of African American Studies, Civic Engagement, and Entrepreneurship; and a faculty fellow at IUPUI.