01 February 2008
Death of Cyprian Ekwensi
Cyprian Ekwensi was one of the foremost Nigerian writers of the 20th century, and is correspondingly well represented in the African Writers’ Club collection on ASR. He died of an undisclosed ailment on 4 November 2007, and was described in the Nigerian Tribune as someone “who shaped the destiny of Nigeria through his books and contributions to nation-building,” and as “the father of Nigerian literature.”
A prolific journalist, playwright and novelist, Ekwensi’s most famous works were written between 1961 and 1966. This African Writers’ Club broadcast comes from the end of that period and features a discussion of Ekwensi’s work to date, excerpts of an interview between Alex la Guma and Ekwensi, and Lionel Ngkane reading extracts from Ekwensi’s work.
Though the programme makes no real mention of the political situation in Nigeria at the time, it was recorded shortly after the beginning of the Nigerian civil war of 1960-1970. In 1967, Cyprian Ekwensi would join causes with the secessionist leader Odumegwu Ojukwu, and become the director of external publicity for the nascent Republic of Biafra. After the war ended and Biafra was reintegrated into greater Nigeria, Ekwensi returned to his two principle jobs: writing and pharmacy. More information about Ekwensi’s political and media careers can be found in this obituary from The Guardian.
The Association of Nigerian Authors awarded him a posthumous medal of honour shortly after his death.
Niall Anderson, Metadata Editor