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Foremost scholar, Okpewho to be buried September 17


Events commence September 16

isidore okpewho

By Ada Anioji


Foremost literary scholar, Professor Isidore Okpewho will be buried September 17, 2016 in New York, sources close to the family have revealed.

The pan-African achiever, who has had a distinguished career as an oral literature scholar in the past four decades died recently in the United States.

The events begin on Friday, September 16, 2016 at 11 am at St. Vincent DePaul Blessed Sacrament Church 465 Clubhouse Road, Vestal, New York while the formal interment would hold on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 11 am at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 225 Ridgedale Avenue, East Hanover, New Jersey

Following his death, many Nigerians reacted to his demise. One of these was President Muhammadu Buhari who authorised a condolence message: “The President joins the people and Government of Delta State, the academia and the literary world in mourning the loss of the multiple award winning and exceptionally brilliant scholar who lived a simple, dignified and exemplary life.”

The scholar and Okpewho’s fellow African oral literature scholar, Professor G.G Darah described the deceased as probably ‘the greatest scholar of oral literature in the world. He devoted over 40 years to the promotion.”

On his part, the author and academic, Professor Niyi Osundare remarked: Generous, inspiring teacher, perceptive writer, scholar of no mean repute, you enrich us all with your combination of intellect and integrity, acute seriousness and lightness of being, seamless sense of humor and sizzling vivacity, a consistently compassionate temperament and humane disposition.”

Okpewho, a most accomplished novelist, literary critic and leading luminary on African oral literature, passed away peacefully on September 4, 2016 at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, New York with his wife and 4 children by his side. Until his death, he was a Distinguished Professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton where he taught for 25 years after moving to Vestal with his family from their native country of Nigeria. He retired earlier this year.

Born in Delta State, Nigeria on November 9, 1941 to David Okpewho and Regina Attoh, he had honed his interest in languages and literature while studying at University College Ibadan (then a college of the University of London), graduating with a First Class undergraduate degree in Classics. He later graduated from the University of Denver with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and obtained a D.Lit. in the Humanities from the University of London.

Having authored, co-authored and edited 17 books and dozens of articles throughout his academic career, Professor Okpewho garnered numerous prestigious awards for his work, including the Nigerian National Order of Merit (“NNOM”), an award bestowed by the Nigerian government on a select number of the nation’s most prolific academic elites, and one that gave him a unique sense of pride.


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