Monday, July 10, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Ezeigbo on Irele


This tribute is for Professor Abiola Irele, one of the finest scholars Nigeria, Africa and indeed the world ever produced. His presence as a scholar and a person was inspiring, encouraging and reassuring. That was the way I felt about him. I first met him as a fledgling, eager, determined and ambitious young doctoral student in 1983 in his office at the University of Ibadan where I was sent to obtain a PhD under the supervision of the renowned Professor Dan Izevbaye by my employer, the University of Lagos. Abiola Irele encouraged me to get on with my studies and research. The next time that I went to see him, I learned that he had left the university and the country. It was fifteen years later in 1998 that I met him again at Cambridge University, UK, where he gave a keynote speech at a conference convened by the distinguished scholar, Dr Stephanie Newell (now a Professor of English at Yale University, USA). That day I witnessed the stuff Abiola Irele was made of – he gave a keynote address without once referring to or reading from a script. He simply spoke for almost an hour, mesmerizing his audience, some of them famous scholars like him. It was remarkable. Unprecedented. I have never again witnessed such a feat in all my years as an academic.

My other interactions with this great and erudite scholar were at various literary and intellectual forums – at African Literature Association (ALA) Conferences; at a Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) Convention at the University of Lagos where he gave a keynote address; at Pan African University (now Pan Atlantic University) Lagos; and in a few telephone conversations I had with him. I recall that after he read my Nigeria-Biafra War novel, Roses and Bullets, he was impressed by it and told me he would invite me to Kwara State University where he was based to interact with his colleagues and students, but unfortunately he was not able to do this and now, sadly, it will not happen.

Professor Irele touched many lives positively. We will all miss him, especially his scholarship and his amiable disposition. As we bid farewell to this great son of Nigeria, this accomplished scholar and academic giant, I would like to celebrate him and his achievements with the poem below:


Abiola, the intellectual warrior son of Irele

Mira magista, renowned teacher, famous scholar

It is your accomplishment that calls forth this encomium

You sowed good seeds, nurtured them with care

And reaped a hundred fold, a thousand fold.

The one who bestrode traditions and cultures

And yet was as urbane and cosmopolitan as they come

Ever confident, relaxed, attentive, in every situation.


You traversed the land of the great and the small

But your pace did not slacken till the very end

Let committed disciples inherit your forest of books

Your tall tower of ideas and illustrious monuments

Disseminate the unfettered knowledge you bequeathed the world.

Let the initiated drink from your spring of knowledge

A legacy that will endure till the end of time

Our song soars with you as you rejoin revered ancestors

Ije awele. Go in grace and in peace.


A mighty tree has fallen down

And all the birds have scattered in the forest.



Akachi Ezeigbo, PhD, FNAL, FLSN, FESAN

Professor of English

Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo

P.M.B. 1010


Ebonyi State




No comments:

Post a Comment

Vida de bombeiro Recipes Informatica Humor Jokes Mensagens Curiosity Saude Video Games Car Blog Animals Diario das Mensagens Eletronica Rei Jesus News Noticias da TV Artesanato Esportes Noticias Atuais Games Pets Career Religion Recreation Business Education Autos Academics Style Television Programming Motosport Humor News The Games Home Downs World News Internet Car Design Entertaimment Celebrities 1001 Games Doctor Pets Net Downs World Enter Jesus Variedade Mensagensr Android Rub Letras Dialogue cosmetics Genexus Car net Só Humor Curiosity Gifs Medical Female American Health Madeira Designer PPS Divertidas Estate Travel Estate Writing Computer Matilde Ocultos Matilde futebolcomnoticias girassol lettheworldturn topdigitalnet Bem amado enjohnny produceideas foodasticos cronicasdoimaginario downloadsdegraca compactandoletras newcuriosidades blogdoarmario arrozinhoii sonasol halfbakedtaters make-it-plain amatha