Professor Kokunre A. Agbontaen-Eghafona, one of Nigeria’s spotted erudite was honored by Pope Francis as a new member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on Friday 10 July 2020. Others who received the appointment with her are Professor Pedro Morandé Court from Chile and Professor Mario Draghi from Italy.
The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was established on 1 January 1994 by Pope John Paul II and is headquartered in the Casina Pio IV in Vatican City. It operates almost in similar ways like other learned societies globally, but its unique responsibility is marked by dialoguing with the church using a people-oriented and systematic scientific approach.
Born on 1 October 1959, Konkunre is a professor of Cultural anthropology at the university of Benin. As an educationist and advocate of historical knowledge, she has contributed immensely beyond national levels on human socio-cultural relations and co-existence. Her active membership has proved visibly relevant in so many learned societies including: Archaeological Association of Nigeria; Nigerian Field Society; International Society for Benin Studies; Nigerian National Museum Society; West African Archaeological Association; Society for International Relations Awareness; Ethics Committee of College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin.
To her credit and recognition marked by hard work, success and resourcefulness in education, are lots of awards and prizes in various categories including:
SOSSA (Social Science Students Association) Award for Excellent Lecturer. September 2014.
Best Lecturer in Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Benin. Vice Chancellor’s Award 2006/2007;
Best Lecturer in Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Benin. Vice Chancellor’s Award 2006/2007;
SOSSA (Social Science Students Association) Award for Excellent Lecturer – Students Relation and Exemplary Life Style in the Academia, June 2002;
Best Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, UNIBEN Award, 1999/2000;
According to her published statement online, “My research interest includes oral literature and ethnography; peoples and cultures of Nigeria and Africa; anthropology of marriage and the family; cultural resource management; indigenous knowledge systems and qualitative research methodology. I have over sixty academic publications mainly in the area of Benin (Nigerian) culture and tradition and have been working in the field of irregular migration since 2003.
I have participated in some research-based consultancies in the field of irregular migration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI); International Organization for Migration (IOM); Walk Free Foundation Research on Modern Slavery Landscape in Nigeria 2014; United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI); National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) and the Salvation Army.
My current scientific activities include measures to combat trafficking in women and girls in Benin City, Nigeria, and counter-trafficking initiatives in Nigeria. I have conducted researches on examination of the role of the family in the trafficking of girls and women in the Benin society (2008/2009); prevailing perception of trafficking, prevention, and anti-trafficking activities among communities in Edo State (2012); Why Benin City? An assessment of Edo State and Benin City endemic areas in trafficking in persons (2012). trauma healing for victims of human trafficking: the need for a post-trafficking psychosocial package in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria (2016-2018), and transnational remittances from human trafficking and the changing socioeconomic status of women in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria (2016-2019).”
Professor Konkunre’s welcome into the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences calls for more impact and is deserving as her personality is such, whose academic background, experience and natural prowess has over the years armed to contribute relevantly to sensitive topics addressing gender-based violations. Her voice is inclined to a selfless humanitarian service and strongly advocates for justice, equity and protection of the rights the socially abused as well as vulnerable persons in the society.