Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems

Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems

Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems

Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems


Gabriel Okara, a prize-winning author whose literary career spans six decades, is rightly hailed as the elder statesman of Nigerian literature. The first Modernist poet of anglophone Africa, he is best known for The Fisherman's Invocation (1978), The Dreamer, His Vision (2005), and for his early experimental novel, The Voice (1964).

Arranged in six sections, Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems includes the poet's earliest lyric verse along with poems written in response to Nigeria's war years; literary tributes and elegies to fellow poets, activists, and loved ones long dead; and recent dramatic and narrative poems. The introduction by Brenda Marie Osbey contextualizes Okara's work in the history of Nigerian, African, and English language literatures. Gabriel Okara: Collected Poems is at once a treasure for those long in search of a single authoritative edition and a revelation and timely introduction for readers new to the work of one of Africa's most revered poets.


Dubbed the “Year of Africa,” 1960 saw the liberation of seventeen sub-Saharan nations from European imperial and colonial rule. It was the culmination of African mass movements for independence stretching back nearly half a century and peaking during World War ii, a war in which upwards of 350,000 African men and women served the cause of the Allied Forces.

Acknowledging the escalating continent-wide movement for independence and its inevitable achievement, on 10 January at Accra, capital of the newly independent Republic of Ghana, and again on 3 February at Cape Town, South Africa, British prime minister Harold Macmillan made his now famous “Wind of Change” speech. “It is happening everywhere,” he cautioned. “The wind of change is blowing through this continent, and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact, and our national policies must take account of it.” the world’s farthest-reaching empire thus capitulated to the irrepressible will of an Africa bent on self-governance.

On New Year’s Day of independence year Langston Hughes had already published the first edition of An African Treasury: Articles, Essays, Stories, Poems by Black Africans. Compiled over a period of six years, it contains work by writers from every region. in his introduction Hughes writes of “a common yearning that may best be described by the stirring, concluding response at the Accra [All-African Peoples’] Conference: Mayibuye, Africa!

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