Oxford University terminates filmmaker, Onyeka Nwelue’s appointment as academic visitor for making sexist remarks

Oxford University terminates filmmaker, Onyeka Nwelue’s appointment as academic visitor for making sexist remarks

Filmmaker and author, Onyeka Nwelue has apologised to the University of Oxford and Cambridge for breaching their rules of engagement as an Academic Vi

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Filmmaker and author, Onyeka Nwelue has apologised to the University of Oxford and Cambridge for breaching their rules of engagement as an Academic Visitor.

In the past, the 35 year old wrote on his Instagram bio that he was a professor of African Studies & Academic Visitor at University of Oxford & University of Cambridge.

On Twitter, he wrote that he was a “Professor + Academic Visitor”.

He has since deleted those positions in his bio.

In a letter dated March 3, 2023 and addressed to Prof Miles Lamar of African history who is also the director, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, Nwelue said: “I would like to convey how deeply sorry I am for being perceived racist, classist, misogynistic and sexist. Those do not reflect how I was raised, and I am sincerely sorry to everyone I have hurt.

“I did not mean to tarnish the image of Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and I take full responsibility for events and situations which have been associated with their outstanding reputations.

“Even though I am no longer an Academic Visitor to both prestigious institutions, I am grateful for the platforms they provided me, and being able to work with the exceptional staff, students and faculty members in various respects.

“I understand how my conduct has and will affect my trusted colleagues and the initiatives I am involved in, and these will be reviewed. Coming to Oxford was not something I took for granted, and only wished to do everything within my means to make my time here as productive and rewarding for everyone as I could.

“Please, I am taking the time to reflect on everything that has transpired and hope that in the days and weeks ahead, I can be forgiven. I sincerely apologise.”

Nwelue, a writer and filmmaker, was invited to join the African Studies Centre at Oxford as a visiting fellow for the 2021-22 academic year.

A probe into his conduct was launched after Oxford students complained about his behaviour at a book launch in January.

Students were asked to pay £20 to attend, which surprised students who said that usually events run by the African Studies Centre are free.

In the marketing of the event, Nwelue used the Oxford University logo, the African Studies Centre logo and the Modern and Medieval Languages faculty logo without permission.

Students also complained about his social media posts, including tweets recorded by Cherwell where he stated that “being raised in a poor family chains you mentally to be stupid” and “no poor person has any value”.

He also wrote that “African women look like masquerades when they wear wigs and make up”, the newspaper found.

“Before I came to Oxford and Cambridge, I was addressed as a professor, because I have been a visiting lecturer at different universities around the world,” he told The Telegraph.

“I have always been called a professor from when I was a teenager… I don’t tell people I am a professor. In my house, everywhere. But, never for once did I say I am Oxford professor. Then, Cherwell showed me a tweet where someone asked, ‘Is he really a professor?’ I replied in Pidgin: ‘Yes na’.”

He added: “I am not a racist, not a misogynist or a classist. If I came off as that, to the students, I am deeply sorry and I hope they can forgive me. It won’t happen again, as I have made a concerted effort to leave social media.”

A University of Oxford spokesman said: “The African Studies Centre has terminated Dr Nwelue’s Visitorship after persistent unacceptable breaches of its terms.

“Academic Visitors are not employed by the University, they do not get paid, and are not expected to undertake duties for the University.”