Obituary – Prof. Harry Garuba (1958 – 2020)

Professor Harry Garuba poet, academic and polymath died aged 61 on February 28, 2019 after what his employers, the University of Cape Town, described as “a long illness.”

Born in Ilorin Kwara state, Harry Garuba as he was widely known, found his voice at the University of Ibadan where he earned his PhD and published his first academic book, Mask and Meaning in Black Drama: Africa and the Diaspora, in 1988.

Described as  ‘a luminary in the field of African literature and a champion of postcolonial theory and postcolonial literature’, Harry Garuba was one of the leading lights of the Thursday Club at the University of Ibadan where he became the unwitting literary mid-wife of one of the most outstanding collective of contemporary Nigerian poets including Afam Akeh, Chiedu Ezeanah, Sanya Osha, Nduka Otiono, Idzia Ahmad and many others.

Harry Garuba introduced a coterie of poets via his 1988 collection: Voices from the Fringe: An ANA Anthology of New Nigerian Poetry. He was also the author of two collections of poetry – Shadow and Dream & Other Poems as well as Animist Chants and Memorials

He and Nduka Otiono were behind the wave making Post Express Literary Supplement.

He left the University of Ibadan after 15 years and migrated south to teach first in the English Department at the University of Zululand before berthing at the University of Cape Town where he lectured at and emerged as a literary rock star.

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