One of the foremost African literary critics, Professor Abiola Irele is dead. Professor Francis Abiola Irele died in United States yesterday after protracted illness. Professor Irele was born in 1936 in Ora, however, his itinerary since childhood has claimed for him global recognition in the world of literature.
As one of the best academic mind in Nigeria and Africa in general, Irele’s contribution to African literature cannot be overemphasised. He had been one of the foremost exponents of the Negritude Movement and his publications dialogue between dramatic literature and cultural studies. His works include The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black Diaspora, Oxford University Press (paperback 2001); The African Experience in Literature and Ideology, Indiana University Press (reprint 1990) and “Négritude: Literature and ideology” in The African Philosophy Reader
Professor Tejumola Olaniyan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison said that Irele “was an accomplished scholar. For me in particular, his biggest accomplishment was a careful cultivation of junior scholars, he respected them, he would reach out to them. He challenged them because he took them seriously. He was welcoming, very open to juniors in the field. As an institutional builder in the field, he edited journals and anthologies.”
Before his health trip to United States, Irele also taught at Kwara State University, Malete.