TWO NIGERIAN LITERARY SPIRITS IN LONDON, UK

TWO NIGERIAN LITERARY SPIRITS IN LONDON, UK

By Emmanuel Jacob

01/01/2012.   

RESEARCH: MA, Ph. D STUDENTS

If music be the food of love, play on;

Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.”

Duke Orsino

TWELFTH NIGHT Act 1 Scene 1.

The two Nigerian literary spirits in London, UK, Ben Okri and Omohan Ebhodaghe have been likened to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791 and Ludwig Van Beethoven, 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827. Wolfgang was a prolific composer of over 600 works of the classical era while Ludwig carefully chose his works.

Ben Okri ( March 15, 1959 ) was born in Minna, Niger state of Nigeria to an Igbo mother and an Urhobo father called Grace and Silver Okri. He schooled at Urhobo college in Warri and later returned to England in 1978 for a study of comparative literature at the university of Essex. He did not complete his BA degree programme due to lack of finances. He later became poetry editor for the West Africa magazine as well as worked for the BBC. He was a vice-president of English PEN. He is laconic in the use of language. He was homeless in his early days as an author in London and an issue that galvanized him into owning his own house. He takes fame rather too seriously. He is Eurocentric. He is overwhelmed with the central theme of death. A second generation Nigerian author, his major works were first published by Random House, London, UK, a giant mainstream corporate publisher. He lives in London, UK. His works, that included ten novels, are:

  1. FLOWERS AND SHADOWS

  2. THE LANDSCAPES WITHIN

  3. INCIDENTS AT THE SHRINE

  4. STARS OF THE NEW CURFEW

  5. THE FAMISHED ROAD, 519 pages
  6. AN AFRICAN ELEGY

  7. SONGS OF ENCHANTMENT

  8. ASTONISHING THE GODS

  9. BIRDS OF HEAVEN

  10. DANGEROUS LOVE

  11. A WAY OF BEING FREE

  12. INFINITE RICHES

  13. MENTAL FIGHT

  14. IN ARCADIA

  15. STARBOOK

  16. TALES OF FREEDOM

(17) WILD

(18) A TIME FOE NEW DREAMS

(19) THE AWAKENING AGE

(20) “IN THE SHADOW OF WAR”

(21) “WORLDS THAT FLOURISH”

He has been awarded various prizes including the 1991 Booker prize. He received an OBE and as a further FRSL. Also a British citizen, he has honorary doctorates from five universities including the university of Westminster in 1997, the university of Essex in 2002 and the School of Oriental and African Studies of the university of London in 2010. He is currently on a two-year contract as a visiting professor to the university of Leicester, UK.

A

Omohan Ebhodaghe ( February 16, 1961) was born in Lagos state to Jacob Osakue and Alice Otekpen Ebhodaghe both of whom are of the village of Idunwele in Ewu of Edo state, Nigeria. He was a 1976 second runner-up in a poetry competition at Iguobazuwa town in Edo state of Nigeria. He had his secondary schooling in Delta and Edo states before completing his degree in English and Literature at the university of Benin in 1984 and a postgraduate diploma in Education at the university of Lagos. In 1995, he did a short course in copy-editing for publishers at the Bookhouse Training centre at Wandsworth town, London, UK. He had worked as a schoolteacher in Benin city and Lagos. He contributed articles, poems and stories to newspapers and magazines. He was the 1993-4 publicity secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Lagos state chapter. His abiding central theme is everlasting life. His language usage is complex, elaborate and sophisticated. He experienced an initial and treatable mental health issues as a fulfilled spiritual vision of his childhood global outreach that somehow enabled him to be a London, UK, successful writer. He does not take fame that seriously. He is Afrocentric. He is a member of the Society of Authors, UK. A third generation Nigerian author, his first major work was first published by Chipmunka publishing, UK, a small mental health publisher. Another small imprint, Novetoks press, is to publish his other works. He lives in London, UK, courtesy of a British Council, Lagos office assistance. His published works are:

  1. TWENTY NIGERIAN WRITERS: PORTRAITS, co-editor
  2. HIGHTOWER: Ibhayu poetry

  3. IN THE MIDST OF LOAFERS, 945 pages, 46 lines per a page
  4. PHOTOCOPIES & ORIGINAL, 1,186 pages

His forthcoming works are:

  1. ONLY FOOLS DIE

  2. A CASUALTY OF TIME

  3. A HEART OF THEIR OWN

  4. A HEALING FREEDOM, 350 pages
  5. MAKING NOISE, MAKING HISTORY

  6. GIFTS FROM HEAVEN
  7. A HOUSE FULL OF DREAMS

  8. THE WAY WE LIVED

  9. DAYS WHEN WE WERE IGNORANT

(14) RETIRE ME FROM POVERTY

(15) A FAMILY OF BEGGARS

(16) EFE OGIDIGAN

(17) OBUKE OGUDE

(18) JANET AGOBOR JONES

Ben Okri and Omohan Ebhodaghe both write and talk about the spirits. One uses the magical realism style and the other deploys dramatic realism to achieve his goal. While Ben Okri’s interest centred around Abiku in Yoruba language or Ogbanje in Igbo language as exemplified in Azaro (Lazarus) the spirit-child of his best known work THE FAMISHED ROAD, 519 pages, Omohan Ebhodaghe focuses on the Christian God Jehovah that Okoekpen Okonofua Junior the student in the epic novel IN THE MIDST OF LOAFERS, 945 pages and the spiritual lord Okonofua in PHOTOCOPIES & ORIGINAL, 1,186 pages both show. John Pepper Clark-Bakederemo, Wole Soyinka, John Munonye, Amos Tutuola and Daniel Olurunfemi Fagunwa amongst others had written on the Abiku myth before Ben Okri. Omohan Ebhodaghe is the first person from Nigeria to write the (first and second) long-awaited and expected great Nigerian novel of over 940 pages, 46 lines per a page.

 

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