Nelson Estupinan Bass, the renowned Afro-- Ecuadorian writer, winner of national and international honors and awards for his outstanding and voluminous interpretations of African culture in the American diaspora and nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998, died in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on March 1, 2002. In response to an invitation by Penn State University, Capital College in Middletown, Nelson and his wife, the novelist Argentina Chiriboga, traveled to that campus to give a series of lectures on Afro-- Ecuadorian culture and to interact with the Hispanic community of the region. The couple arrived in Middletown on February 8, 2002 with the intention of returning to Quito on February 18. After giving a talk to a Spanish class on February 11 and a public lecture on February 13, Nelson was rushed, on February 14, to the Hershey Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and hospitalized. Despite the heroic efforts of the medical staff of the institution, Nelson succumbed.
On March 8, on the campus of Penn State University, Capital College, Dr. William J. Mahar, Associate Provost/Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, presided over a posthumous tribute to the fallen writer. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Jorge Saade-Scaff, Cultural and Press Attach6 to the Embassy of Ecuador in the U.S., and Pedro A. Comes, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs. Speakers included Carol Beane, Henry J. Richards and Ian I. Smart, who represented the Afro-Hispanic Studies community in the U.S. Nelson's ashes were transported to Quito on March 10.
What follows is a chronology of events honoring Nelson Estupinan Bass in Quito, in Esmeraldas and in his native Sna during the period leading up to the scattering of his ashes in the Bay of Sfia. The observances attracted national and international media coverage.
March 11: The urn containing the ashes of the Ecuadorian author was placed in one of the major auditoriums in the headquarters of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana in Quito, and people from all walks of life visited the site, throughout the day, to extend their condolences to the bereaved family and pay their respects to the indefatigable defender of the oppressed.
March 12: In the evening, members of the Society of Ecuadorian Writers gathered at the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana to honor and to bid farewell to the distinguished poet and novelist who had won national and international acclaim for his literary creations.
March 13: In the afternoon, in Esmeraldas, government officials including Homero Cervantes Coronel, governor of the province of Esmeraldas, Homero Lopez Saud, provincial prefect, Ernesto Estupinan Quintero, mayor of Esmeraldas, Jose Sosa Castillo, president of the Esmeraldas chapter of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, officers from all of the branches of the Armed Forces of Ecuador, and from the city's Police, Fire and Emergency Services Departments, the poets, Antonio Preciado Bedoya and Josh Micolta Cuero, leaders of civic groups and delegations representing organizations in various cities, members of his family and friends of the deceased met the flight carrying the poet's remains and his family and with them traveled at the head of a motorcade to the outskirts of the city of Esmeraldas. From that point, a cortege led by the group identified above and including the Most Reverend Eugenio Arellano Fernandez, bishop of Esmeraldas, began the walk to the Cathedral preceded by a marimba band that provided the rhythms for interpretations of the fabriciano, the andarele, the caderona, the aguas largas, folkloric dances of African origin, performed by eight dancers, four women and four men, dressed in white costumes. Hundreds of people lined the route of the funeral procession in a show of respect for their champion. The bishop of Esmeraldas, assisted by several priests, celebrated a solemn High Mass, into whose rituals were woven African traditions, music, dances and songs, in Estupinan's honor. …