Ondo, CBAAC, others hold international conference for Fagunwa 50th anniversary

Posted: August 5, 2013 in arts/culture

Centre for Black and African Art and Civilization (CBAAC) will collaborate with the Ondo State Government, the Fagunwa Study Group, and the Fagunwa Foundation to host an International Conference this Auguston the late literalist Chief Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa.

Billed for the Adegbemile Cultural Centre, Akure, Ondo State from August 8 to 10, the International Conference is being promoted by an international group of scholars and enthusiasts of the work of the late, distinguished pioneer writer who lived from 1903 to 1963.

The conference themed on; D. O. Fagunwa: Fifty Years On, was conceived to mark the first half-century after the death of Fagunwa and is expected to feature Professor Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature, who will deliver the keynote address.

The year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of Chief Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa (Dec. 1963), the renowned Yoruba-Nigerian author and educationist. With the publication in 1938 of Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmole, Fagunwa initiated a practice of Yoruba-language imaginative writing which quickly generated a tradition within Nigeria, and beyond the Yoruba language.

daniel o fagunwa

late daniel olorunfemi fagunwa

His other novels include Igbo Olodumare (1949), Ireke Onibudo (1949), Irinkerindo Ninu Igbo Elegbeje (1954), and Adiitu Olodumare (1961). The success of his five novels, the last of which was published in 1961, was phenomenal: by 1986, Ogboju Ode had gone through twenty-four reprints; several Yoruba authors were publishing novels in the genre of spiritual adventure-cum heroic quest he popularized; the career of Amos Tutuola was in full swing; and Wole Soyinka’s translation of the first novel would soon introduce Fagunwa to the English-speaking world.

However, Fagunwa did not just write novels, he also wrote travelogues, essays, petitions, and translated other literature into Yoruba.  The tradition thus initiated has shown remarkable resilience and continued to influence different categories of intellectuals in diverse disciplines.  At the last count, there have been four translations of three of the novels, and numerous works of scholarship continue to be published on the novels.

Critics have identified Fagunwa’s role as a creative user of the Yoruba language, creating the language in the very act of using it, and this judgment has been extended to the author’s self-apprehension as simultaneously Yoruba, Nigerian, African, Black and modern subject.

The planned conference is therefore expected to examine the significance of Fagunwa’s work in the history of African letters; just as it will focus on the ways the engagement of writers, translators, and scholars with this paradoxically small but dense body of work have demonstrated the diverse origins and influences of Fagunwa’s artistic practice.

Further, according to CBAAC, the conference will seek to answer what Fagunwa works means for our understanding of the relationship between Africa and modernity, the evolution of African philosophy, the possibility of deploying African literature in sociological research and, generally, the development of African languages.

“We propose an international conference to examine the impact and significance of the work of this foundational Yoruba writer.

“We recognize the broad cultural, literary, political, and institutional dimensions of Fagunwa’s oeuvre, and invite submissions that use his written works, in Yoruba and in English or other languages of translation, to explore issues that illuminate these questions.

“We conceive of this conference as the beginning of a process of inquiry which brings together writers, scholars, artists who have been working in different ways on major and minor issues that pertain to the writer’s work,” said Prof Tunde Babawale, the Director General, CBAAC.

The conference is expected to celebrate and reaffirm Fagunwa’s major contributions to African literature and culture, re-examine his work as a store-house of hitherto undiscovered sources of knowledge, and assess his continuing relevance to our contemporary times.

With notable scholars like Tejumola Olaniyan, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Jacob K. Olupona, Harvard University; Karin Barber, University of Birmingham; Niyi Osundare, University of New Orleans; Saheed Yinka Adejumobi, Seattle University; Kole Omotoso, Johannesburg, South Africa; Adeleke Adeìèòkóò, Ohio State University; Olufemi Taiwo, Cornell University; Odia Ofeimun, Hornbill House; Olu Obafemi, NIPSS, Kuru; Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith, University of Nebraska at Omaha; as well as Akin Adesokan, Indiana University, Bloomington, expected at the event, the screening of prominent filmmaker Tunde Kelani’s work Maami, is expected to highlight the event.

  1. Rev Victor Ariyo says:

    Kindly send to me how the program will be and the venue. Thanks

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