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Sep 5, 2016

Another literary Icon Gone!

The writer of Tides, an epistolary novel which showcases the plights of the Niger Deltans; and Africa’s foremost scholar of Oral Literature and award-winning novelist, Prof. Isidore Okpewho, has kicked the bucket at 74. He was named a distinguished professor in 2004.
Surrounded by family members at a hospital in Binghamton, a town in Upstate New York where he had lived and taught since 1991, the Distinguished Professor at State University of New York, died peacefully on Sunday, September 4, 2016.

Born in Nigeria, Isidore Okpewho has a B.A. in Honors Classics from the University of London, a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Denver, and a D.Lit. in the Humanities from the University of London. He has taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo (1974-76), University of Ibadan (1976-90), Harvard University (1990-91), and Binghamton University (since 1991).

Okpewho’s areas of specialization are in African and comparative literatures, with a specialist emphasis on comparative oral traditions. His major publications in this field include The Epic in Africa: Toward a Poetics of the Oral Performance (1979), Myth in Africa: A Study of Its Aesthetic and Cultural Relevance (1983), African Oral Literature: Backgrounds, Character, and Continuity (1992), and Once Upon a Kingdom: Myth, Hegemony, and Identity (1998). His edited scholarly volumes reveal an expansion of his academic interests from oral literature (The Oral Performance in Africa, 1990), to modern African literature (The Heritage of African Poetry, 1985; Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: A Casebook, 2003) and diaspora studies (The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities, 1999). He is currently completing a book on an African epic under the title Blood on the Delta: Art, Culture, and Society in The Ozidi Saga, as well as working on a new book project African Mythology in the New World. He has also published some four dozen journal and book articles in these areas.

Professor Okpewho is also an active novelist with four titles, The Victims (1970), The Last Duty, winner of the African Arts Prize for Literature (1976), Tides, winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa (1993), and Call Me By My Rightful Name (2004). He was gradually developing his fifth novel, Fish Scales before his sudden demise.

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