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Nigerian prof, Saheed Aderinto, wins $300,000 History Prize

A Nigerian professor of History and African Diaspora Studies, Saheed Aderinto,  has won the 2023 Dan David Prize.

Aderinto, who lecturers at the Florida International University, was one of nine announced on 28 February as winners of $300,000 each for their contributions to history research.

Announcing the winners, Professor Ariel Porat, President of the Tel Aviv University, and Chairman of the Dan David Prize Board, described the works of the nine recipients as exemplifying outstanding research in history and related fields.

He said, “The nine recipients exemplify outstanding research in history and related fields. They were chosen by a committee of international experts, following an open nomination process.

“Their scholarship reflects the interests of Dan David, the founder of the prize who was a businessman with a passion for archeology and history.”

Porat said the prize had since 2022 focused exclusively on history in its many facets.

“Giving this annual prize,” he continued, “provides the opportunity to celebrate the exceptional work of scholars and practitioners who surprise us with insights into people, places and ideas that might otherwise remain forgotten or misunderstood.”

Speaking on the winners, Porat said, “They are scholars and practitioners who have the potential to reshape their fields in the future, and it is our hope that this prize will assist them to do so.”

Taking to Facebook to celebrate his win, Aderinto expressed delight in winning what he described as the biggest financial reward for discipline in the history discipline.

“Yes! I just won the largest history prize in the world. It’s $300,000. For me, alone. One lump sum, 220 million, in Nigerian currency,” he said.

“I have just received the highest financial reward for excellence in the historical discipline, on planet earth. It’s a prize, not a grant. I don’t think there is any history prize worth $100,000 in cash — much less $300,000.

“While 300k is a lot of money in any strong global currency, the true value of the Dan David Prize is not the cash per se but what it would help me do for my students and mentees, institutions, global infrastructure of knowledge, and communities of practice. Hence, the award is about my scholarly achievement as much as about the people, institutions, and communities I represent.”

Aderinto said the selection committee lauded his work “for situating African history at the cutting edge of diverse literatures in the history of sexuality, nonhumans, and violence, noting that it is exceptional to see a single person leading scholarship in all of these fields.”

The Dan David Prize was founded in 2000 with an endowment by Romanian-born Israeli businessman and philanthropist Dan David. Between 2001 and 2021, it awarded $1 million, each, to three very senior extraordinary humans in science, medicine, public health, politics, economics, art, and literature.

Past recipients include Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public face of the US fight against COVID-19; former American Vice-President Al Gore; and MIT economics professor and Nobel Prize Winner Esther Duflo.

“In 2022, the Dan David Prize was redesigned to become the largest history prize on earth to recognize nine exceptional historians with $300,000, each. $ 2.7 million in total. Recipients’ Ph.D. mustn’t be older than 15 years. I received my Ph.D. 13 years ago. I’m among the second cohort of the new history-focused Dan David Prize,” Aderinto added.

“To all young and up-and-coming people out there—how hard are you working towards extraordinary rewards that don’t exist today, but will emerge tomorrow? Do you spend more on depreciables like cars, owambe, clothes, and phones, than on appreciables like knowledge, technology, skills, or a living condition that would enhance your creativity, increase your productivity, and strengthen your problem-solving abilities?

“Are you seeking selfless mentors/sponsors who would help you get off the ground so you can fly beyond limits—with your own wings, on your own terms, at your own pace? Are you investing selflessly in your subordinates? Do you believe in and work for a cause that is bigger than you and your name, and that places people and institutions at the center of collective growth, shared honour, and democratized progress? Are you real to yourself, people, and circumstances? Are you building sustainable personal and professional relationships across gender and sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ideology, race, ethnicity, generation, e.t.c.? Are you learning the art of leadership within your community, profession, or network?”

Credit: NewsMakers Nigeria

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