Esiaba Irobi
318 Pages
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Esiaba Irobi's Drama and the Postcolony


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318 Pages


Esiaba Irobi (1960-2010) was one of Africa�s most innovative and productive younger playwrights. Deeply rooted in the indigenous performance traditions of his Igbo ethnic group, Irobi�s drama, in the tradition of Wole Soyinka, is a hybrid production involving an iconoclastic reconceptualisation of the heritage he appropriates, its fascinating conflation with other performance traditions, and their projection onto the arena of contemporary Nigerian politics. This study by Isidore Diala is the first book-length examination of Irobi�s work. It portrays a highly creative individual who was literally driven by the creative urge. The five chapters of this study illuminate different aspects of Irobi�s oeuvre and include a vivid portrayal of Irobi the actor in his dream role of Elesin Oba, the eponymous King�s Horseman in Wole Soyinka�s drama. Diala highlight�s Irobi�s fascination for African festivals, which feature prominently in the earlier plays.He also demonstrates that although he is rooted in his Igbo culture, Irobi draws on different ethnic groups, pointing to conceptions of pan-Africanism that include the wAfrican diaspora.



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Published 29 December 2014
Reads 1
EAN13 9789789182725
Language English
Document size 5 MB

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ESIABAIROBI’S DRAMA AND THE POSTCOLONY Theory and Practice of Postcolonial Performance
ESIABAIROBI’S DRAMA AND THE POSTCOLONY Theory and Practice of Postcolonial Performance
Isidore Diala
Published by Kraft Books Limited 6A Polytechnic Road, Sango, Ibadan Box 22084, University of Ibadan Post Office Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria 0803 348 2474, 0805 129 1191 E-mail:
©Isidore Diala, 2014
First published 2014
ISBN 978–978–918–113–1
All Rights Reserved
First printing, February 2014
For Berna, mother and muse: Who found the strife of battle enthralling, But the spoils of war loathsome;
Chy, Bubes, Chijo, Noly, Too: Even hearts are base tablets to inscribe The marvels of your love.
I wish, first and foremost, to thank in a special way the three scholars and teachers who have had the greatest impact on my career: Professors Ben Obumselu, M.J.C. Echeruo, and Dan Izevbaye. As the first vice chancellor of the first Imo State University in Etiti, Nigeria, Echeruo laid the foundations for academic excellence in that university. Obumselu was Dean of the Faculty of Humanities of that university and helped plan the programme of the Department of English and Literary Studies; it was, however, especially by sitting at his hallowed feet to learn, and writing my undergraduate long essay under him that I discovered him to be an intellectual Muse. Professor Izevbaye was first the external examiner of my undergraduate final year class at Etiti and later my PhD supervisor at the University of Ibadan. He brought to those roles such discernment and generosity that helped to define my career. I thank them also that by the rigour of their own scholarship they offered me a model to follow. Moreover, Echeruo and Obumselu, against all enormous odds, found time to read the entire manuscript of this work, while Izevbaye read sections of it. Their criticisms remain eternal signposts. My very deep gratitude goes to Professor Dr Mark Stein who accepted to be my host for the Humboldt Fellowship and in the process became a great friend. He found time for me and my work and generously offered insights that I found invaluable. I also thank Mark’s wife, Yomi, and daughter, Lara, for their warm friendship. I am likewise indebted to Professor Christopher Balme who, on first reading a part of this work,
was generous with insights for revision and who kindly accepted to write the pre-text; to Professor Martin Banham who shared with me what he knew about Esiaba Irobi; to Professor Sridhar Rajaswaran for the illuminating discussions we had; to Niyi Okunoye and Remi Raji for facilitating the Humboldt application process; and to Dr Ruthmarie Mitsch for intervening in another project of mine with all her rigour, competence, and compassion. I wish to thank in a special way Esiaba Irobi’s widow, Uloaku, and his special friend, Barr. Georgina Alaukwu-Ehuriah, the two women whose generosity facilitated this work. They shared with me invaluable information, documents, and photographs as well as the zeal to succeed. Irobi’s brother, Osundu, his publisher, Mr Clement Asomogha, and his friends Patrick Ibe Okezie, Nnorom Azuonye, Olu Oguibe, A.B.C. Duruaku, and Nnamdi Anumihe likewise obliged me with facts about his life. I am equally indebted to all colleagues in the Postcolonial unit of the Department of English, Westfälische Wilhelms University, Münster, Germany: Dr Marga Munkelt, Dr Markus Schmitz, and Dr Silke Stroh. They were both friends and family, supportive of my academic endeavour and helpful with the practical arrangements that support life. I’m grateful too to Ms Kerstin Strotman and Frau Sandra Bregulla, who worked as secretaries in the unit, and to Daniel Blenke and Florian Barten for their friendship and assistance. My thanks go to Professors Paul Webley and Graham Furniss, Dr Chege Githiora, and Ms Angelica Bashiera for the opportunity to spend a fruitful month (November 2011) at SOAS, London, to work on an aspect of this project. I was also deeply touched by the generosity and warmth of my former students and of people from my hometown, Okwu Ikeduru, during the month that I spent in London. I am in this regard especially indebted to Bishop Simon Iheanacho and his family, Chris Iheanacho and his wife, Delight, and the families of Sir
Peter Nze, Dr Eugene Mgbemere, Mr Ugo Okereafor, Mr Chinonso Ndukwe, Mr Victor Okam, and Reverend Lambert Osuji. My indebtedness to the many friends and families who made life in Münster, Germany a happy experience for me and my family is truly deep. I thank especially Rev. Frs. Sylvester Iheoma and Victor Anoka, the families of Mr Francis Okafor, Mr Nick Nwadike, Mr Chimezie Orumezie, Mr Romanus Okonkwo, and Mr Fidelis Ejiogu. I and my family owe special debts to the Jörg and Melanie Decher family for whom (through the friendship between our daughter, Oluebube, and theirs, Paula) we became family. Thanks are also due to the many senior colleagues whose unflagging goodwill remains a source of inspiration: Professors Ukachukwu Awuzie (my current Ag. Vice Chancellor), Innocent Okonkwo, B.E.B. Nwoke, Ossie Nwebo, Anthony Okere, Polycarp Anyanwu, Sophia Ogwude, C.B. Nwachukwu, Professor Rev. Frs. Jerome Okonkwo and Izu Marcel Onyeocha, an d man y oth er s. To Pr ofe ss ors Afam E beo gu , J .O.J Nwachukwu-Agbada, Kalu Ogbaa, Chinyere Nwahunanya, Isidore Okpewho, Niyi Osundare, Albert Ashaolu, all my other teachers, and to Professors Femi Osofisan and Biodun Jeyifo for all their assistance to me, I owe deep gratitude. To friends: Iyke Ibeh, Leon Osu, Nwabueze Iheka, Ben Nwachukwu, Goziem Chukwu, Lewis Ibe, Dozie Ebe, Perp Asiegbu, Obioma Iwu anyan wu, A ustin e Emel a, an d Abb a A. Abba who repeatedly asked how the project was faring, I say many thanks. My deepest love goes to Rich, brother and father, Oly, sister and mother, Cajethan, Bismark, and the Boniface and Grace Imoko family for looking after home while I was away. My special gratitude also goes to the Alexander Humboldt Foundation for the fellowship that made this work possible, and to TETFUND for facilitating the publication. For permission to reprint (or reuse) already published material, I am indebted to Indiana University Press for two
articles published inResearch in African Literatures36.4 (2005): 87-114 and 42.4 (2011): 20-38; University of Toronto Press for an article published inModern Drama49.1(2006): 60-75; andShakespeare in South Africa24 (2012): 25-43 where a version of chapter five first appeared. Esiaba, this, to the glory of God, is for you! And thank you Lord for your blessings.