Joseph-Ernest Aondofe Iyo: A biographic sketch of a brilliant historian
Joseph-Ernest Aondofe Iyo is a practicing oral historian, consultant, professor, and researcher on Belizean history, African history and African Diaspora History. He is currently posted as an Associate Professor at the History and Anthropology Program at the University of Belize. He coordinates Historical Methods, Philosophy of History, and West African History, among other courses. He continues to an make invaluable contribution to the development and expansion of Belize’s history and academia in general.
Joseph-Ernest Aondofe Iyo was born in the Benue State of Nigeria. Educated at Government Secondary School Gboko, and Murtala College of Art, Science and Technology, Makurdi; both in Benue State, Nigeria. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria, in 1982 and Ph.D. in History from the University of Calabar, Nigeria in 1990.
He began his teaching career in 1984 at the School of Basic Studies in Makuduri before transferring his service to the Benue State University, Makurdi, Nigeria in 1992 as a lecturer.
While in Nigeria, Iyo presented several research papers and contributed chapters on the theory and practice of oral historiography in Nigeria and Africa. He has also contributed papers on social and cultural and political history of the Tiv of Central Nigeria.
In 1995-96, Iyo left Nigeria for the University College of Belize as a visiting lecturer under the Nigeria Belize Technical Assistance Program. After his working visit to Belize, Joe Iyo decided to relocate in Belize to further his academic career in a country with plenty of opportunities for research.
In Belize, he has written and presented several scholarly papers on the theory and practice of oral historiography. He has also written and presented scholarly papers on the socio-economic, educational and political issues in Belize development. He has published a number of articles in learned journals, attended workshops, and presented scholarly papers at International Conferences in Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He has also been the recipient of various research grants including a grant from the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH).
Professor Joseph-Iyo is currently working on several manuscripts on the Belizean and African historical experiences. His latest book is entitled “A concise history of economic development in Belize, 1981-2005”, published in 2005 by the Image Factory. He recently presented a paper at the Belize Archaeology and Anthropology Symposium entitled “Flight from Enslavement in the Bay of Honduras to Freedom in Petén, Guatemala: preliminary findings” published in Research Reports in Belizean History and Anthropology (NICH, 2013).
More personally, Iyo continues to be an incredible mentor. As a student of the history program, Iyo exposed us to a variety of key intellectuals and historical works. Iyo encourages theoretical eclecticism within a postcolonial reference point. Needless to say, he is widely read on Belizean historiography. As his students, Iyo encourages us to think outside the box and to rigorously argue our cases. Importantly, Iyo believes in the role of history and the intellectual in the restructuring of the Belizean society. I encourage you to get a hold of some of his works.
**Adapted from a biographic sketch in Iyo, J. (2000). Towards Understanding Belize'sMulti-cultural History and Identity. Belize, University of Belize.