Africa Leaders Magazine

PROFESSOR OGHENETEGA IGHEDO – the first black woman Graduate with a PhD in Pure Mathematics at the University of South Africa (UNISA).


A Nigerian Mathematician, Professor Oghenetega Ighedo, has broken a 148-year-old record to become the first black woman graduate with a PhD in Pure Mathematics at the University of South Africa (UNISA).

It is the first time such achievement would be attained in South Africa’s foremost university since it was established 148 years ago.

Ighedo, an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of South Africa (UNISA), before her academic pursuit in South Africa, she was already an accomplished researcher in Nigeria where she bagged MSc in Pure Mathematics from the University of Ibadan and a BSc in Industrial Mathematics from Delta State University.

The renowned scholar attributes her success to her mother who was also once a Mathematics teacher. Ighedo said she was inspired by her mother who has since retired.

“I was inspired by my mother – a retired maths teacher. I saw the way she was going about teaching it and when I grew older, I thought the way she did maths was interesting and I wanted to see if I could do it like her.”

“My decision to study pure mathematics was also motivated by the fact that not only are there few black pure mathematicians but there are fewer black women who are pure mathematicians.”

Ighedo also noted that the dearth of black and women pure mathematicians influenced her decision to study the course. She observed that there were a few and fewer black women who were pure mathematicians.


She further encouraged young women not to be deterred by challenges on their path to academic excellence. She narrated her ordeals while studying for her PHD as a married woman with two children. However, Ighedo, said on top of this she was expecting her third child during this period.

“In spite of being a mother and a wife, I was able to complete my PhD within three years,”Ighedo said.


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