A conference with a theme, Legacy of Christopher Okigbo, will be held on September 20 and 21 to mark the 50th year after the renowned Nigerian poet and author, Christopher Okigbo, died fighting for the independence of Biafra.
Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, will present a keynote address at the event which will be held at the poet’s alma mater, University of Ibadan.
Although he is no more, his memory as a widely acknowledged outstanding post-colonial English language African poet and one of the modernist writers of the 20th century lives on.
The author’s only child, Obiageli Okigbo, disclosed these details at a press conference, which held at the The News premises in Lagos on Monday.
Also speaking, the President of the Christopher Okigbo Foundation, Obiageli Okigbo, said the foundation over the years had been propagating the ideals of her late father. She said the ideals include truthfulness, fairness, justice, among others.
The Executive Editor, The NEWS/PM News, Kunle Ajibade, eulogised the quality of Okigbo, saying he was the Regional Editor of Transition magazine which was cosmopolitan in spirit.
“There were two magazines at that time, but he preferred the Transition magazine because of its cosmopolitan spirit. The magazine competed with the best in the world. He infused the magazine with cosmopolitan influence,” he said.
The conference, a collaboration between the Christopher Okigbo Foundation and UI, through the Departments of Classics and English, will have different sub-themes.
The event will be held under the chairmanship of Chukwuemeka Ike, a professor, while the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Achebe, will be the Royal Father of the day.
Judith Attah (Okigbo’s widow), JP Clark, members of the Okigbo family, his friends, colleagues, as well as international and local writers will speak on the sub- themes before the floor is opened for discussions.
Mrs. Attah will speak on ‘Okigbo, the Family Man’; Pius Okigbo Jnr, will handle ‘Okigbo, the Sibling’; Alex Ade Ajayi, ‘Okigbo, the Teacher’; Remi Raji, a professor,’Okigbo the Poet’; J.P Clark, ‘Okigbo, the Friend’ and Chudi Ofodile, ‘Okigbo, the Martyr’.
The conference will continue in the evening of the same day with a Gala soiree, to be hosted by Joop Berkhout at Cambridge House, Ibadan, built in 1960. Okigbo once lived there when he was the representative of Cambridge University Press.
The conference will see an assemblage of Okigbo’s contemporaries, fellow poets, members of the cultural industry and institutions worldwide that have been instrumental in upholding his memory to date.
In 1992, Berkhout bought the property and Chris Okigbo was celebrated at the opening in the presence of Soyinka, Clark, Pius Okigbo, among others. A plaque was, that day, unveiled in front of the house with “Here lived Christopher Okigbo.”
The conference will be concluded on September 22 when there will be paper presentations at the Faculty of Arts building, UI.
Expected at the event are: Judith Sefi-Attah (Okigbo’s widow), John Pepper Clarke, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra State; former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, Okigbo family members and the Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Abel Olayinka.
Others include, AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, Vice Chancellor, Kwara State University; Ayo Banjo, Ernest Emenyonu, Romanus Egudu; Odia Ofeimun, Femi Osofisan, Niyi Osundare, among several others.