Emeritus Professor Adelola ADELOYE (1935 – 2021)

Professor Adelola Adeloye

2nd Nigerian Doctor to qualify as a Neurological Surgeon in 1967

Quintessential Neurological Surgeon, Neurologist, Distinguished Academic, Medical Historian, and Biographer

(July 18, 1935 – April 8, 2021)

DAWN Commission commiserates with families, friends and associates of the second Nigerian doctor to qualify as a Neurological Surgeon, Emeritus Professor Adelola Adeloye who died on April 8, 2021 at the age of 85.


Adelola Adeloye hailed from Ikole-Ekiti in Ekiti State, present-day South-West Nigeria but was born in Ilesa, Osun State (also in South-West Nigeria) on July 18, 1935 to Ebenezer Ajayi and Elizabeth (Ajisomo) Adeloye. His father, whom he described as a “Village genius”, started out as a pupil teacher but later opted to be artisanal mechanic (invented cassava grater, double grating cassava machine, and cotton wool spiner) and subsequently, a traditional medicine practitioner.

Adelola attended the St. Paul’s CMS (Elementary) School, Ikole-Ekiti, Ekiti state (1941-1946) and Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti state for his Secondary/High School education from 1947 to 1952. At Christ’s School, he was the Government Scholar (1949-1952), School Prefect (1952) and the Football/Soccer captain (1952). Poverty nearly waylaid his educational aspirations early in High School as stated succinctly in his autobiography:

“I found it impossible to get my school fees of 17 Pounds per yearpaid in 1948. We struggled to pay only a part of it.”

He went on:

“The Native Administration helped as much as was financially within their means with scholarships and bursaries. Mason judiciously used the funds to keep the Ekiti children in Christ’s School. Some 50 boys were assisted in this manner in 1949 to the tune of 780 Pounds Sterling and another 60 boys benefited with the 870 Pounds Sterling raised in 1950.”

Thus, a destiny at risk of truncation was rescued. He passed out of Secondary School in 1952 with a Cambridge School Leaving Certificate (Grade One) and several prizes to boot.


After a stint with the public service of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria (February to September, 1953), Adelola bagged the Western Nigeria government scholarship to study medicine at the then University College, Ibadan, now University of Ibadan (1953 – 1960), obtaining the MBBS (U. London) degree in 1960. He was the youngest in his graduating class of 1960, a College Scholar (1956 – 1960) and the best student in Chemical Pathology. He completed his mandatory housemanship postings in various hospitals in Nigeria and the UK from December 1960 to March 1963.

Subsequently, he took up appointment as a Demonstrator and Postgraduate research student in Anatomy at Bristol University (1963 – 1964) which he later discontinued in order to concentrate on Clinical Surgery. He was a General Surgery resident at the Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith, London; had neurotrauma training at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford (under John Potter); Neurosurgery training at the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, Stoke-on- Trent (under Eric Newton) and at the National Hospitals for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, London, (under Professor Valentine Logue and Professor Symon).

Adelola passed the Membership examination of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP Edinburgh) with Neurology as his special subject in July 1965 and Fellowship examination of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (FRCS) in November 1966. As a result, he preferred to refer to himself as a Neurological Surgeon (a Neurophysician who operates on the Nervous System) rather than a Neurosurgeon. With that double qualification in Neurology and Neurosurgery, he became one of the very few Nigerian doctors with such distinction (Physician and Surgeon), like the legendary late Sir Samuel Layinka Ayodeji Manuwa (who was the second Nigerian doctor to obtain a specialist qualification in Surgery – FRCSEd in 1938 and also had MRCP, FRCP, and FACS).

Adelola returned to UCH, Ibadan, Nigeria where he was employed as a post-Fellowship Senior Registrar (under late Prof E.L. Odeku) from December 1967 to July 1968. UCH appointed him as Consultant Neurosurgeon (August 1968 – 1995) while UI appointed him as Temporary Lecturer (Aug 1968 – Nov 1969), Senior Lecturer (Nov 1969 – Sept 1972), Professor of Neurological Surgery in October 1972, and Head of Surgery (1974-77). He was Rockefeller Research Fellow in Experimental Teratology at the University of Cincinnati, USA (1972 -73) and Ratanji Dalai Scholar of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1973-74) for the study of CNS malformations (especially Spina Bifida Cystica).

He obtained a Master’s degree in Surgery (MS) of the University of London in 1973, with a thesis on Neurosurgery. While at UCH/UI, Ibadan, Prof Adeloye was involved in training neurosurgeons, administrative duties, clinical research, and clinical surgery. The simplicity, thoughtfulness, far-sightedness, and excellent relational skills which Prof Adeloye brought to bear on his administrative duties are underscored by the testimonies of two other eminent surgeons who worked under him at UCH.

First, Prof S.A. Adebonojo (Cardiothoracic Surgeon):

“I must make special mention of Professor Adelola Adeloye who was the Head of Surgery when I arrived at the University College Hospital, UCH, in April 1974 and I later broached to him the idea of establishing a facility for Open Heart Surgery at UCH. Professor Adeloye was very enthusiastic and requested a special grant from the University of Ibadan to procure the remaining surgical equipment we needed. Without this assistance and support, we could not have recorded the landmark achievement we made at UCH in 1978”.

The second testimony is that of Prof O.G. Ajao (General and Renal Transplant Surgeon) who gave the following narrative in his autobiography (Prof. Ajao had been training as a Surgeon in USA in the period leading up to 1974):

“So in 1974, I wrote to the head of surgery at University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan for employment, stating my plans to start a kidney transplant unit in the department. The HOD did not even show me the courtesy of replying my letter!………..Later that year when I learnt that there was a change in headship of the department, I wrote again for employment, stating my desire to start a kidney transplant programme. That time, the new head of surgery, Professor Adelola Adeloye wrote a nice reply to my letter, encouraging me to come.”

Prof Ajao continued:

“It was when I became the head of surgery and had unfettered access to my personal file that I realised the gravity of my actions in those early days of arrival in UCH. The file was full of all sorts of complaints about me. Some reasonable, many were unreasonable…Many of these complaints were from my so called “senior professional colleagues” who masqueraded as my friends. In fact, some were not even in the department of surgery at all!…But Adeloye would reply and apologise on my behalf to diffuse the tension. But he never told me anything. But anytime he saw me in the corridor after such a report, he had an unusual way of greeting me.”

Prof Adeloye had a brief stint as Locum Consultant Neurosurgeon to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Nov – Dec, 1987) before proceeding to the State of Kuwait where he was the Head of Neurosurgery at Al-Adan Government Hospital from January 1988 to October 1990.

He left the Middle East and returned to Africa as the Foundation Professor and Head of Surgery at the University of Malawi (July 1991 – March 2001), where he also served as the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Acting Principal of the College of Medicine, University of Malawi, and as member of the University’s Senate. He was in Malawi under the aegis of the World Health Organisation’s short term professional staff scheme. Professor Adeloye was a member of over several professional bodies, served as postgraduate examiner in surgery in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Scotland, Australia and South Africa, and was also a Visiting Professor of Neurosurgery to various universities at home and abroad. He also taught Neuroanatomy to medical students in Nigeria (Bowen University & Ladoke Akintola University of Technology) and the UK (University of Sheffield) at various times.


Professor Adeloye amassed a slew of professional fellowships, awards, honours, leadership positions, and other social garlands during and after his medical career. These are enumerated below:

Professor Adeloye amassed a slew of professional fellowships, awards, honours, leadership positions, and other social garlands during and after his medical career. These are enumerated below:

  • Member, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (MRCP) (1965)
  • Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS), England (1966)
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Medicine, England (1967)
  • Fellow, International College of Surgeons(FICS) (1972)
  • Fellow, Nigerian Medical College of Surgery (FMCS) (1972)
  • Fellow, West African College of Surgeons (1973)
  • Fellow, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (FRCPEd) (1979)
  • Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Science (FAS) (1987)
  • Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) in Neurological Surgery by the International University Foundation (1987)
  • Fellow, Association of Surgeons of   Malawi (1993)
  • Foundation Fellow, College of Surgeons of East and Central Africa (FCOSECA) (1999)
  • Honourary Fellow, American College of Surgeons (2009)
  • Emeritus Professor of Neurosurgery, University of Ibadan (2010)
  • Foundation member, Pan-African Association of Neurological Sciences (PAANS) (1972)
  • Second Vice-President, World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) (1981-85)
  • President, Neurosurgery section, Nigerian Society of Neurological Sciences(NSNS) (1988)
  • President, Surgical Association of Malawi (1998-2000)
  • Vice-President (1998-2000) & President (2000-2002) PAANS;
  • Foundation President, Neurosurgical Society of East and Central Africa (1999)
  • Ekiti State Merit Award for Scholarship and Excellence (2012)
  • Traditional Chieftaincy title as Atorise of Ikole-Ekiti (2018)

(Atorise in Yoruba language literally means “someone who repairs the (damaged) head” –  an obvious reference to his profession as a Neurologist and Neurosurgeon)

He was elected as Honorary President for Life of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) in September 2001, becoming the first Black African to be so honoured by that body. He was also Honorary President for Life of the PAANS, the Nigerian Society of Neurological Sciences (NSNS), and the Nigerian Academy of Neurological Surgeons (NANS).




Professor Adeloye ws a prolific author as is evident on his curriculum vita and online academic profiles (Scopus, Google Scholar, Researchgate, Worldcat). He had published extensively on Neurosciences, Neurological Surgery, General Surgery, and West African history of medicine.  He had hundreds of journal articles to his credit as well as   various monographs and biographies. As of when he assumed the Chair of Neurosurgery in Ibadan in 1972, he already had 58 scholarly publications. In fact, a recent newspaper article listed him among the 28 most published Nigerian scholars residing in country.

He was the Editor-in-Chief of the Nigerian Medical Journal (1980-1990); Sub-Editor (for Malawi) of the East and Central African Journal of Surgery, and Editorial Board Member of several journals at various times (Neurosurgery, African Journal of Neurological Sciences, Paraplegia, Child’s Nervous System, Brazilian Journal of Neurosurgery, African Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Dokita,etc).

Adeloye and Odeku gave the first comprehensive description of the Adeloye-Odeku disease (Congenital dermoid cyst of the anterior fontanelle) in 1971. Initially hypothesised to be an African disease, the condition has now been reported worldwide and in all racial groups. His Masters of Surgery thesis (Tangenital wound of the head in Nigerian Soldiers) chronicled his experience of treating neurotrauma during the Nigeria civil war of 1967-1970. Some of his medical books (as sole author and with others) include:

  • Missile Head Injuries in Nigerian Soldiers (159 pages)
  • Davey’s Companion to Surgery in Africa (486 pages)
  • Handbook of Surgery for Clinical Officers, Care of the Injured (360 pages)
  • Clinical Surgery in Ibadan: Surgical Grand Rounds of the University College Hospital, Ibadan (1974-1975) (184 pages)
  • Head injuries in civil practice in Nigeria (91 pages)
  • Neurosurgery in Africa (386 pages)
  • Lecture notes in Neurosurgery and Otorhinolaryngology (149pages)
  • Central Nervous System Plasticity and Repair (184 pages).

Professor Adeloye was also an authority on the history of medicine in Nigeria and West Africa with several journal articles and books such as:

  • Nigerian Pioneers of Modern Medicine: Selected Writings (1977)
  • African Pioneers of Modern Medicine: Nigerian Doctors of the Nineteenth Century (1985)
  • Early medical schools in Nigeria (1998)
  • Practice and Practitioners of Medicine in Nigeria (2004)

He published in 1973 on the history of sickle cell disease asserted that sickle cell disease had been documented, even in Western medical literature, decades prior to Dr. James Herrick’s report of 1910.

He was also a biographer with published documentation of the lives of his father (A village genius: The story of my father; 2004), his own childhood (My salad days: primary school years; 2009 & My Secondary School  Saga;2013), his secondary school teacher (Henry  Dallimore: Founder of  Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti; 1970), Nigeria’s first Neurosurgeon who died young (E. Latunde Odeku: An African Neurosurgeon; 1976), one of Nigeria’s first two doctors (Doctor James Africanus Beale Horton: West African Medical Scientist of the Nineteenth Century; 1992), Principals and Vice Chancellors of UI (Compendium of principals and vice chancellors, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria; 2015), and his late Indian wife (The biography of Codanda Kamala Kalappa Adeloye; 2015).

Professor Adeloye was also a much sought-after Guest Lecturer.


Prof Adeloye was the Chief of Neurosurgery at Al-Adan Government Hospital, Kuwait from January 1988 to October 1990. While he was there, Iraq invaded Kuwait which triggered the First Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – February 28, 1991). As a result, he and several other expatriates were marooned inside the small oil-rich country. They were trapped incommunicado as embassies had closed, no air transport services, and telecommunication had been severed.

He and the others endured this precarious and dicey situation for almost two months. Medical staff of his hospital and even patients disappeared on a daily basis as the chaos worsened. Eventually, he played a role as an emergency Diplomat in the later evacuation of 84 Africans to Baghdad. He would later chronicle his bitter-sweet experience in Kuwait in his book, Inside Occupied Kuwait which was published in 2006.


In the heart of Old Bodija, Ibadan lies a choice property belonging to Prof Adeloye which he named “The Aqueduct”, after the human midbrain structure which connects the third ventricle to the fourth ventricle of the brain. The parcel of land was purchased for 50,000 naira in 1974 ($1 = 0.63 naira in 1974) and the building was completed in 1976. Since 2008, the building had been converted to an academic edifice for holding seminars and also serving as a library for his many books, collections, and memorabilia. The first academic seminar held there on 19th July, 2008 with the presentation of a paper titled “Roadmap in research and writing in Neurosciences in Africa” by a Neurologist, Dr (now Prof.) Mayowa O. Owolabi.

Committing such a valuable piece of real estate to preservation of literature underscores the premium that he places on knowledge and education. The resource centre is dedicated to the promotion of neurosciences and the history of medicine in Nigeria; the two areas which were the centrepiece of his academic scholarship and professional life. Over the years, postgraduate students of UI have been visiting The Aqueduct to seek materials for their thesis and writings. His hope was for the resource centre to evolve into a full-fledged library.


Prof Adeloye was the first of five children (4 boys, 1 girl) of his parents. He married the now late Dr Kamala Codanda Kappala Adeloye (Indian), a medical graduate of Madras University who later qualified as a Pediatrician, in October 1967. The union was blessed with three children as well as grand-children.


Adelola’s philosophy of life was encapsulated by the maxim: “Work and Pray”. He believed that “Without hard, honest, and consistent work, life goes rotten”. This conviction stemmed partly from his inculcation of one of the sociocultural tenets of his ethnic nationality (Yoruba people) which stated that: Mura siise re, ore mi (Be sedulous/assiduous, my friend) Ise ni a fi n di eni giga (Because diligence is the path to eminence/greatness).

He averred that the philosophy above and his Christian religious ethos had cast him into an incurable optimist; therefore, he had no regrets in life. He solemnly declared:

“My life has been a joy to me, no matter where I go, or what I do”.

His hobbies included playing guitar, watching Soccer, reading English literature, and writing.


Prof Adelola Adeloye was an embodiment of intellectualism, dedication, hard work, and the community spirit; ever willing to give back his intellect, time and resources for the greater good of humanity. He was a man of impeccable character and an outstanding gentleman.

May his gentle soul rest in peace.




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