Christopher Okigbo 1930-67

March 2010
12 black and white, 3 line illustrations
304 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Library eBook
James Currey
BISAC BIO007000, LIT004010, LIT014000

Christopher Okigbo 1930-67

Thirsting for Sunlight

Obi Nwakanma

eBook for Handhelds
The first full-length biography of Christopher Okigbo, the most anthologized modern African poet, giving an extended narrative and rounded account of his life and times.
Christopher Okigbo, once described as 'Africa's most lyrical poet of the twentieth century' was killed in September 1967, fighting for the independence of Biafra. The Sunday Times described his death as 'the single most important tragedy of the Nigerian civil war'. The manner in which Okigbo died typified the passionate, tortured and dramatic quality of his life. Widely considered along with Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe as part of modern Nigeria's greatest literary triumvirate, Okigbo's death promoted him to cult status among subsequent generations of African writers.
This is the first full biography of the Nigerian poet. It places Okigbo within the turmoil of his generation and illustrates the aspects of his life that gave rise to such an intense poetry. How did his experience in the prestigious, English-type boarding school, Umuahia, where he was known more as a sportsman than a scholar, influence his life and later choices? Why was he sacked from the colonial service, and how did that lead him towards a search for private recovery, and ultimately towards poetry? What led him to take up arms? In other words, how did his eclectic pursuits as high school teacher, university librarian, publisher, gun-runner and guerrilla fuel his poetic drive?

OBI NWAKANMA, journalist and poet, is Associate Professor of English, University of Central Florida

Nigeria: HEBN (PB)

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Table of Contents

A river goddess, his mother's death & a headmaster father: Ojoto 1930-45
Sportsman, actor & 'effortless genius': Umuahia 1945-50
Cricket, classics, politics & urbane dissipation: Ibadan 1950-56
Colonial civil servant, covert businessman & bankrupt: Lagos 1956-58
Poetry gives purpose to his voice: Fiditi 1958-60
A librarian ravenous for literature & women: Nsukka 1960-62
Gentleman, poet & publisher: Cambridge House, Ibadan 1962-66
Aftermath of a coup, running arms & advancing to death: Biafra 1966-67


[This] chronicling of the forces that helped to shape Christopher Okigbo's life, his sensibility, and poetry is commendable. Hopefully, the biography will help to expand interest (both locally and internationally) in Okigbo and his work. JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORY

An impressive work. The author comments that we so far have few biographies of African writers; and I doubt if there has been another of this thoroughness and care. [...] An exemplary work of scholarship, written with deep affection and without illusion. AFRICAN LITERATURE TODAY 29

Nwakanma's authoritative biography of Christopher Okigbo makes an important contribution to our knowledge and understanding of Nigerian creative writing from 1960 onwards, but is also a fitting tribute to the man. There is no comparable critical or biographical study of Okigbo. [...] It is hugely well-informed and is an indispensable reference not only to the work of a fine poet [...] but also to the sometimes dangerous times in which he lived. LUCAS BULLETIN

One need go no further than this volume to learn what there is to know about Okigbo and his tragically shortened life and literary career. Those interested in supporting an international curriculum, whether or not they are directly involved with African literature, will want this volume. Highly recommended. CHOICE

Puts Okigbo in the context of African writing and politics, giving detailed descriptions of his personal and public life. DAILY NATION (Nairobi)

A powerful narrative of a brilliant, mischievous, wandering soul trying to find himself, and eventually doing so through the creative act of writing poetry. [...] But this book, for all, or maybe because of his craziness, shows why he is placed securely among the greats. BUSINESS DAY LAGOS

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