Abiola Irele’s collection of essays, first published in , has established itself as a classic study of modern African literature, its oral traditions, and its cultural. AT age 70, Abiola Irele’s presence in the world of African letters and, more generally, in African intellectual circles, is a commanding, venerable one. As the . The African Literature Association regrets to announce the death of Professor Francis Abiola Irele, 17th president of the association (), and.
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With his passing coming on the heels of the demise of Prof.
Ben Obumselu, who died on Saturday March 4,and Ossie Enekwe, the founding generation of literary criticism has been grossly depleted. When mourning ends for the erudite scholar, the question of timelessness of his work will remain.
His literary output seems destined for immortality, because of the way they are entrenched in the African canon and aesthetics. His career was striking for the scope of his participation in the development of modern African intellectual culture, from its formative years in the s to the present, on different continents. Born May 22,in Ora, he moved to Enugu very early in his life.
While he was Edo, and was born in an area in which Ora was predominantly spoken, the first language he learned was Igbo; he learned Igbo from the servants who worked for his father and took care of him growing up. After moving to Lagos inhe began to speak Yoruba. Inafter a fight between his parents, Irele returned to Ora with his mother where he picked up Ora and developed a fluency in the language over the course of a year.
However, after returning to Lagos in to live with his father, he began to predominantly speak Yoruba and maintained it as his ethnic identification.
His career, in fact, embraced the formative years of modern African intellectual culture, and its development to the present, its representative central institutional organs, represented by editorships in the pioneering journal, Black Orpheus, in the s, to editorship in later years at Research in African Literatures and membership of the editorial board of Transition, all these publications being central points in the development of modern African thought.
Irele graduated from Ibadan University in Immediately after graduation, he went to Paris to learn French and completed a Ph. D in French at the University of Paris, Sorbonne in Inhe moved to Ohio State University in the Irelf.
One of his richest and most consistent contributions has been in the explication of the philosophy of Negritude.
Francis Abiola Irele
An Anthology of Criticism and Theory. He begins by rejecting the notion of ideological difference between anglophone and francophone Africa. He aims to root African progress in the present and not in a romanticized past.
This work is also enriched by comparison with scholarship in classical African philosophies, philosophies that Negritude describes itself as distilling and representing: Dan Izevbaye has this about the late Irele: I am dejected, as everyone who knows him would be.
But I am not made speechless by ireele shock of the news.
No. Abiola Irele at 70
It is just that with all the memories crowding in, it is hard to know where to start and when to stop. For him, there were no barriers between disciplines; he moved as easily between literature, sociology, and philosophy, between cultures and languages, abiopa among people of different races and ethnic groups.
Up to his last days, his intellect, the vigor of his mind, had not shown signs of not aging. Up till a few weeks ago, he was still working on yet another number of his top quality journal, The Savannah Review, and busy as editor planning themes abiolaa in collaboration with scholars to whom contributions to the volumes of African literature to be published by Cambridge Press.
Biola once said that he would like to be remembered after his days on earth as a Catholic raising his voice among a choir around the throne of grace.
And remembering the vocal quality of his performance on earth, what singing that would be. My heartfelt condolence to his wife, Eka, and his children. He was a foremost interpretative ideologue of the Negritude literary movement.
The emergent or contemporary writers no longer have critics committed to interpreting their works to the larger reading world and spurning out novel cultural and critical theories by so doing. What we have now are nouveau scholars impatient in the race to become abioal so that they can bask in the glow of the materialist halo it confers on them. Writers now write without any in-depth critical engagement and scholarly labour in the literary sphere is no longer a quiet and prodigious enterprise of the type Irele signposted in African literature.
This is how Prof.
Tribute: Francis Abiola Irele ( – ) – Vanguard News Nigeria
Remi Raji captures his tribute to Irele. He brought the discourse of Negritude to us in a lucid language reminiscent of Jean Paul Sartre, the original olohun iyo, teacher of teachers of many, Renaissance man, above all, a great inspiration and a cultured man… adieu.
While noting that his passing is a devastating loss for all who knew him personally, as I did, or through his stupendous scholarly work, Prof. Beyond being an extraordinary, world class scholar, Irele was also a deeply humane person. He was best known as the doyen of Africanist literary scholars worldwide. Irele, no doubt, would have few generational rivals in the promotion, projection, defense, intellection, propagation, growth and development of Nigerian literature and criticism. His contributions to the world literature as a critic rank among the most seminal.
Some of his works include, The African Imagination: To enable commenting and other interactive features, please switch to the more advanced. Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: