When Serendipity conspires with Fate, the result is almost invariably a combination of astonishment and eye-popping bewilderment. In the over 15 years I worked on those poems, it never occurred to me that I was going to dedicate them to anybody. Nor did that thought ever cross my mind in the hectic months leading to the final editing and revision of the galleys. Then, one morning, I woke up with something close to a Eureka feeling: voila, I have found a worthy dedicatee for my new book and that person would be none other than Abiola Irele. That decision itself was both curious and complex; for I already had a piece written in his honour in the book of essays I was readying up for publication — an essay which missed the chance to appear in the highly valuable Irele festschrift, The World in Africa; Africa in the World: Essays in edited with a characteristically comprehensive and provocative introduction by Biodun Jeyifo. When I called my publisher, Kassahun Checole, and revealed my new decision, I knew the manuscript was set and ready to go to the printer.
|Published (Last):||17 September 2018|
|PDF File Size:||13.73 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||18.74 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
When Serendipity conspires with Fate, the result is almost invariably a combination of astonishment and eye-popping bewilderment. In the over 15 years I worked on those poems, it never occurred to me that I was going to dedicate them to anybody.
Nor did that thought ever cross my mind in the hectic months leading to the final editing and revision of the galleys. Then, one morning, I woke up with something close to a Eureka feeling: voila, I have found a worthy dedicatee for my new book and that person would be none other than Abiola Irele.
That decision itself was both curious and complex; for I already had a piece written in his honour in the book of essays I was readying up for publication — an essay which missed the chance to appear in the highly valuable Irele festschrift, The World in Africa; Africa in the World: Essays in edited with a characteristically comprehensive and provocative introduction by Biodun Jeyifo.
When I called my publisher, Kassahun Checole, and revealed my new decision, I knew the manuscript was set and ready to go to the printer. But the Irele name did the magic. My publisher had the grace to wait for another two days, during which the following was born:.
Mr Checole was pleased that his patience had paid off, for he considered Irele worthy of every word in this dedication, and more. My curious instinct had not run its course. Weeks later, I kept wondering: why, considering the stated prevailing circumstances, did I undertake to pen a paean for Irele? And, even more perplexing, why did I make sure he read this ahead of its publication? Nothing could have told me about his imminent passing.
The last time I saw him and his lovely wife, Eka, it was at the funeral activities of another great scholar and humanist, Isidore Okpweho; and I still remember telling Professor Irele how fresh and well preserved he looked, and how eloquent his tribute to Okpewho was.
Death, our insatiable enemy, must have been laughing behind the curtain! Unknown to many people, the very title of my first book of poems came from him. Of course, my answer was a resounding affirmative. That was it. Thus, Irele was not only there at the beginning of my literary-creative journey; he was vitally instrumental in giving my fledgling dream a name, and shaping the trajectory of a life career.
No doubt the God of Gratitude has wondrous ways of communing with the Spirit of Serendipity. Irele had an overriding passion: to discover, nurture, and promote a new crop of writers after the phenomenal achievements of the Achebe-Soyinka-Clark-Okigbo generation. There goes Abiola Irele, the doer and enabler. Admirably cosmopolitan and inspiringly literate, Irele was a man and scholar constantly re-inventing himself and his ideas, an ageless humanist with an astounding combination of youthful energy and the seasoned wisdom that comes with age.
We will sorely miss his stupendous zest for life, his powerfully resonant voice, his infectious passion for music, wine, and enlightened company. I was somewhat aware that he was supposed to famous. But his actual stature as a scholar in African literary studies began to come into focus only during a year I spent at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Against this background, I have never forgotten the generosity that he extended to me as a beginning graduate student, a nonentity in the world of intellectual stars where he had made his professional home. I honor Professor Irele on this sad occasion, not just as a scholar, but also as an incredibly open-handed mentor and teacher.
A few examples will have to suffice as placeholders for his decades-long generosity to peers, students, and fellow travelers. I recall that in his last years at the University of Ibadan, when the economic crisis ravaging Nigeria began to deplete the University library, his library became my library. Every few weeks, he would pick out books from his personal collection for me to read and to use in writing my papers. There were no due dates for the books he lent me, I could return them in three weeks or two years: he never inquired.
And he always found a way to make encouraging comments on those papers I wrote as a graduate student. As I have moved from country to country, and university to university, I have kept every one of the papers I wrote for him. They represent for me a record of encouragement and a reminder of the path that brought me to my current position. I was stunned by the gesture and illuminated by the contents of the manuscript.
He introduced me to his intellectual peers, who then became additional mentors and friends with me. Through him, I met Alain Ricard in Paris, who subsequently invited me to take up a fellowship at Bordeaux.
Although we are all condemned to mortality, I could not have imagined that I would so soon be called upon to reflect again on the passing of another one of our great scholars. Much more will remain unsaid because it is difficult to distill the many dimensions of a life of intellectual generosity into a few short paragraphs. In summation, for myself, and all those who benefited from your friendship, openness, and generosity, I simply say: thank you.
Many closer to Abiola Irele and more knowledgeable than I can speak to the personal and to his wider intellectual scholarly oeuvre. It was like reading, feeling and listening to a musical composition and performance; it could be heard and felt as much as read; the substantive musicality of his work meant that every piece he wrote was was worth listening to.
The quiet beauty of his prose was of someone who had deliberated on deeply about what it meant to identify and elaborate, always on a topic of some import, to enhance our understanding.
There was an elegant, limpid cadence to his writing that was never discordant or loud, even where it may have identified a quiet remonstrance with those or positions that he might have disagreed with. His was a power of humility that came from one who had engaged deeply and respectfully with others. Indeed, in being lucky to meet him a few times, in conferences in Accra and Lagos where he was keynote, and on one occasion the AASA, in brief conversations that quiet prose had its analogue in his manner of engagement.
He had a generous, at times laconic, at other times forthright, tone and humour, whether of agreement and disagreement, even when I suspect, he did not suffer fools very gladly. The ancestors have welcomed Abiola Irele for the legacy that he gifted us, and in whose debt so many subsequent generations will gratefully share in his being part of us all. A huge loss of a selfless intellectual, who saw far and deep!
We must prove worthy of his encompassing legacy. Now, the bards will begin singing, for eternity, strains which will echo down the ages. Abiola Irele knew how to build bridges between people. He dedicated his entire academic career reinforcing the ties between Anglophone and Francophone African literature. He loved the French language, the sound of it and the culture behind it. He was a sophisticated literary critic whose ability to straddle different cultures did not prevent him from retaining a deep Yoruba identity.
He was already a well-established critic whose opinion I valued. We kept in contact and met at many conferences.
I was happy to learn that he had returned to Nigeria where he would have the opportunity to share his experience and talent. His intellectual depth, knowledge of African literature in English and French, was immediately apparent in his lectures and overall commentaries. My sincerest condolences to his family. Guardo un excelente recuerdo del Sr. Abiola was an exceptional scholar and thinker. And yet he never lost the human touch.
These texts, in particular, constitute incomparable pedagogical tools. After admiring Brother Abiola from a distance for years, I was honored to serve on a panel with him and other distinguished personalities some have since joined the ancestors: Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez during the Slave Routes Symposium held at New York University in While walking the long blocks to and from the Club Quarters and during the subway train rides to the NYU campus I got to spend special moments with Irele that I will always treasure.
Abiola has relocated. His physical address is no longer the same. How we miss you Abiola! We loved you so much and you will stay in our hearts.
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.
I first met him as a fledgling, eager, determined and ambitious young doctoral student in in his office at the University of Ibadan where I was sent to obtain a PhD 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. 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. I have never again witnessed such a feat in all my years as an academic. 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.
Professor Irele touched many lives positively. We will all miss him, especially his scholarship and his amiable disposition. 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. Current ALA Officers are listed here. Connect with the ALA. A Grateful Author Remembers for Abiola Irele, — When Serendipity conspires with Fate, the result is almost invariably a combination of astonishment and eye-popping bewilderment. My publisher had the grace to wait for another two days, during which the following was born: To Abiola Irele Ageless Humanist Scholar without borders These seasoned offspring Of Songs of the Marketplace Mr Checole was pleased that his patience had paid off, for he considered Irele worthy of every word in this dedication, and more.
Raoul J. In the meantime, condolences, as we borrow Emile Dickinson's tongue to bid Abiola "Pass to thy Rendezvous of Light, Pangless except for us— Who slowly for the Mystery Which thou hast leaped across! Debra S. 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.
A mighty tree has fallen down And all the birds have scattered in the forest. Contact Ph
Tributes to Abiola Irele by ALA Members
Francis Abiola Irele commonly Abiola Irele , 22 May — 2 July  was a Nigerian academic best known as the doyen of Africanist literary scholars worldwide. His father is from Uokha while his mother is from Ora both in Owan area of Edo State, the first language he learned was Igbo , which he learned from the servants who worked for his father and took care of him growing up. In , after a fight between his parents, Irele returned with his mother to Ora, where he picked up and developed a fluency in the Ora 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. Irele's first encounter with literature was through folk tales and the oral poets who recounted "raras" in the streets. During the years of his formal education, he began to read more English literature.