Of Minstrelsy and Masks

The Legacy of Ezenwa-Ohaeto in Nigerian Writing


This collection is dedicated to a distinguished scholar and writer who for a quarter of a century wrote consistently on African literature and the arts and was a major voice in Nigerian literary circles. Ezenwa–Ohaeto made a mark in contemporary Nigerian poetry by committing pidgin to written form and, by so doing, introducing different creative patterns. He also saw himself as a ‘minstrel’, as someone who wanted to read, express and enact his work before an audience. First and foremost, however, Ezenwa–Ohaeto was someone who ‘un-masked’ ideas and meanings hidden in the folds of literary works and made them available to an international academic public. With his outstanding work on Chinua Achebe, he influenced the reception of African literary biography. His networks and connections were extensive and wide-ranging, and they are partly reflected in the essays, creative writing and personal notes assembled in this volume. In their various modes and expressions, the contributions included here constitute a tribute to Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s many talents and achievements. As an extension of Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s legacy, they expand on various aspects of minstrelsy and the un/masking of texts in a Nigerian and broader African context.
The book is divided into six sections. “In Memoriam” contains personal tributes by long-standing colleagues, mentors and friends. “Poetry and Fiction” collects the voices of three generations of Nigerian writing from the 1960s to the present day, followed by poetic and pictorial insights into the domestic and social life of the scholar and family man. Section Four comprises two interviews, while Sections Five and Six are devoted to critical evaluations of Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s work and to contemporary perspectives on Nigerian literature respectively.

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Biographical Note
Contributors: Toyin Adewale–Gabriel, Akachi Adimora–Ezeigbo, Susan Arndt, Eckhard Breitinger, Isidore Diala, Sule E. Egya, Ernest N. Emenyonu, Chinua Ezenwa–Ohaeto, Ngozi Ezenwa–Ohaeto, Chukwuemeka Ike, Lyn Innes, Esiaba Irobi, Okinba Launko (Femi Osofisan), Bernth Lindfors, Kahiudi Claver Mabana, Patrice Nganang, J.O.J. Nwachukwu–Agbada, Obi Nwakanma, Odia Ofeimun, Obododimma Oha, Tanure Ojaide, Gabriel Okara, Tejumola Olaniyan, Paul O. Onovoh, Ogochukwu Promise, Aderemi Raji–Oyelade, Frank Schulze–Engler, Chika Unigwe, Chantal Zabus
Table of contents
Illustrations Frontispiece Preface EZENWA–OHAETO: Raising a Chant SECTION 1: IN MEMORIAM Bernth LINDFORS: Ezenwa–Ohaeto (1958–2005): Obituary Eckhard BREITINGER: In Memoriam Ezenwa–Ohaeto Ernest N. EMENYONU: Gone Too Soon! Thoughts at Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s Graveside on 23 December 2005 Remi RAJI: The Last Conversation: “When the village cock dies…” SECTION 2: POETRY & FICTION Gabriel OKARA: We Shared Okinba LAUNKO: Once Again, a Familiar Song Tanure OJAIDE: The Minstrel Wails Odia OFEIMUN: Sermon of a King Hornsman Esiaba IROBI: Elegy for Ezenwa–Ohaeto Akachi ADIMORA-EZEIGBO: Shadow of Death Ogochukwu PROMISE: Elegy: Tribute to Ezenwa–Ohaeto Obododimma OHA : Destinations Chika UNIGWE: Sugar in My Bowl Toyin ADEWALE–GABRIEL: Stuttgart Blues SECTION 3: THE MAN, THE MINSTREL, THE MOMENT Chinua EZENWA–OHAETO: Three Poems Ngozi EZENWA–OHAETO: The Chants are Forever EZENWA IN PICTURES SECTION 4: INTERVIEWS Paul O. ONOVOH: Interview with Ezenwa–Ohaeto on the Publication of the Biography of Chinua Achebe Paul O. ONOVOH: Ezenwa–Ohaeto as I knew him. Ihe ahu ka na enwu kwa! / The Light still lights the path Paul O. ONOVOH: Of Courage and Resilience: An Interview with Ezenwa–Ohaeto SECTION 5: EZENWA–OHAETO: CRITICAL EVALUATIONS Chantal ZABUS: Informed Consent: Ezenwa–Ohaeto between Past and Future Uses of Pidgin Obododimma OHA: Shepherding the Chants Home: Language and Mmanwu Minstrelsy in Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s Poetry J.O.J. NWACHUKWU–AGBADA: Ezenwa–Ohaeto: Poet of the Njakiri Genre Sule E. EGYA: The Minstrel as Social Critic: A Reading of Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s The Chants of a Minstrel SECTION 6: CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES ON NIGERIAN LITERATURE Lyn INNES: Chinua Achebe and the Creation of a Democratic Novel Susan ARNDT: Paradigms of an Intertextual Dialogue: ‘Race’ and Gender in Nigerian Literature Kahiudi CLAVER MABANA: Léopold S. Senghor, Birago Diop et Chinua Achebe: Maîtres de la parole Patrice NGANANG: Le roman des détritus Tejumola OLANIYAN: Femi Osofisan: Revisionary Notes on Familial Relations Frank SCHULZE–ENGLER: Civil Society and the Struggle for Democratic Transition in Modern Nigerian Drama: Ken Saro–Wiwa’s The Transistor Radio and Wole Soyinka’s From Zia, with Love Aderemi RAJI–OYELADE : Representational Exposures: The Album of Nigerian Women’s Poetry (1985–2006) Isidore DIALA: Nigeria and the Poetry of Travails: The Niger Delta in the Poetry of Uche Umez Obi NWAKANMA: Okigbo Agonistes: Postcolonial Subjectivity in “Limits” and “Distances” Chukwuemeka IKE: Contemporary Nigerian Youth and the Reading Culture APPENDIX Christine MATZKE and Obiwu, with Marcela KNAPP: A Checklist of Ezenwa–Ohaeto’s Creative and Critical Writings EZENWA–OHAETO: The Post Chant Notes on Contributors and Editors Notes for Contributors
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