Boniface Ihewunwa Obichere was born on November 4, 1932 in Awaka, Owerri, Nigeria, the son of Ibari Ikeri and Eke Ogbuagu. He attended Roman Catholic primary schools and the local teachers college before working as an elementary school teacher in Nigeria. After resettling in the United States, he received a Bachelor of Arts (1961) and a Masters of Arts (1963) from the University of Minnesota. He married Armer Gean Brown on August 22, 1964, and with her had one son, Chikere Igbolelenwa.
Boniface Obichere earned his D. Phil from Oxford University, England in 1967 and later that year became an acting assistant professor at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). By 1969 he had earned the rank of associate professor and by 1973 that of full professor. He taught both undergraduate and graduate level African history courses for thirty years and was the advisor to numerous masters and doctoral students.
Obichere specialized in West African history with a particular focus on African military history, African and African-American relations, African political leadership, Pan-Africanism, and the history of Nigeria, Asante, and Dahomey. In addition to numerous articles, book chapters, and reviews, he authored the book
West African States and European Expansion: The Dahomey-Niger Hinterland, 1885-1898 (1971) and edited Studies in Southern Nigerian History (1982) and African States and the Military: Past and Present (1988).
Obichere also actively participated in UCLA committees and outside organizations that covered his areas of interests. From 1972-1978 he served as the director of the UCLA African Studies Center and afterwards sat on its Faculty Advisory Committee. In 1974, he was the founding editor of the
Journal of African Studies, a scholarly journal published by the African Studies Center, and in addition, worked on the editorial board of the Journal of Black Studies, AMAN, UMOJA: A Scholarly Journal of Black Studies, and the Ibadan Humanities Journal. He was a member of numerous academic organizations and served as the director of the African Studies Association, and as a board member of such organizations as Operations Crossroads Africa; the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation; the African Institute for the Study of Human Values; and the Association for the Advancement of Policy, Research and Development. He participated in the United Nations Economic Conference for Africa and was also active in charitable causes, such as the Biafra Children's Relief Committee. He was a visiting professor at the University of
Hawaii (1969-1970), the University of Ghana (1970-1971), and the University of Ilorin, Nigeria (1979-1980).
During a career that lasted 30 years, Obichere won numerous awards including a 1991 Golden Star Halo Award given by the Southern California Motion Picture Council for his work on a series produced for PBS called "Israel and Black Africa." That same year, the Liberian Studies Association awarded him a lifetime achievement award for his work in African Studies. Boniface Obichere died of prostate cancer six years later on March 14, 1997.