OBITUARY:Professor Simeon Fatunla

Simeon Fatunla was a leader of the scientific community in Nigeria and by any standards one of the outstanding men of his generation. His death in a car accident, aged 51 and at the height of his powers, deprives Nigeria of a talent that combined vision with technical prowess, and of personal qualities that put both at the service of his country.

Fatunla was born in 1943 near Igede-Ekiti in what is now Ondo State, where he attended the Baptist High School from 1956 to 1961. After a year at college in Ijebu-Ode he took a degree in Mathematics at the University of Ibadan in 1965-68. There followed three years with Mobil Oil in Lagos which laid the foundations of his formidably professional computing skills; then his first period of overseas research at Loughborough University of Technology under Professor David Evans, completing a PhD in Computer Studies in 1975.

Fatunla's career as teacher had already begun: by 1969 he had had two spells schoolteaching in his home town and one in Lagos and he combined his PhD with a year as a lecturer at the university in Ile-Ife.

Fatunla knew his own powers and the value of developing them by international contacts. His charm, energy and determination to be based in Nigeria and contribute to the academic growth of his country won him friends world- wide. He travelled extensively to conferences, and to research visits in Illinois, 1977, Dublin, 1981 and 1988, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, 1990. From 1984 he was Head of Mathematics at Benin University (Uniben). His widening reputation was recognised by a 1993 Distinguished Leadership Award of the American Biographical Institute and brought responsibilities in other developing countries: external examiner, Nairobi; guest conference speaker in Delhi and Tehran; setting up an Industrial mathematics MSc in Mauritius.

His main personal research was in numerical methods for stiff and oscillatory ordinary differential equations, in which many students at Benin followed him. But his view of priorities in a developing country led him to teaching and exposition. In 1983, and biennially from 1986, he led the now famous Uniben Scientific Computing Conferences. At first almost single-handed, then with a growing support group at Uniben, he attracted funding and impressive teams of overseas speakers, and edited the Proceedings. Since the 1988 conference these have been typeset and printed in Nigeria, latterly by the Ada/Jane Press which he founded. He found time to write two fine textbooks, Numerical Methods for Initial Value Problems in Ordinary Differential Equations (1988), a best-seller on Academic Press's list, and Fundamentals of FORTRAN Programming (1993). Widely adopted by Nigerian universities, the latter is both up-to-date and adapted to African needs.

His death occurred the week before he was due to address the Computer Association of Nigeria on "What Parallel Computing is All About" at their annual international conference, when it was widely expected that he would be elected president of the association.

As well as immense appetite for work - like many high achievers he needed little sleep - Fatunla had great zest for enjoyment, and many friends will remember sitting down to beer, political discussion and television after a day of conference, or enjoying pepper soup and bushmeat at one of his clubs.

John Pryce

Simeon Olujuyigbe Fatunla, mathematician: born near Igede-Ekiti, Nigeria 5 September 1943; Head of Mathematics Department, Benin University 1984- 95; married 1971 Grace Itiola (four sons, one daughter); died near Auchi, Nigeria 19 May 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick