Another Professor and Creative Writer Passes On
Just as the literary world and academia tries to come to terms with the death of Prof Abubakar Othman on Monday, 30 October 2023, AkweyaTV has learnt of yet another tragedy. Professor Umelo Ojinmah, a distinguished Nigerian author and professor of English and Literary Studies, breathed his last on Thursday, October 26, 2023, in the United States of America after a prolonged battle with an undisclosed illness. His passing marks the end of an era in the realm of African and Comparative Literatures.
Dedication to Literature and Education
Born in Nkwerre, one of the Local Government Areas in Imo State, South-East Nigeria, Ojinmah embarked on an academic journey that would lead him to become a prominent figure in the world of literature. His educational path included a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English Language and Literature from the University of Calabar, Nigeria, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Comparative Literature from the University of Otago, New Zealand, which he completed between 1986 and 1988.
Throughout his illustrious career, Professor Ojinmah demonstrated a profound dedication to literature and education. He became an expert in English Language Teaching, Technical Writing, Thesis Writing, and other areas of literary studies. He was a member of numerous academic and professional associations, including the Association of Teachers of English as a Second Language, Reading Association of Nigeria, and the African Literature Association USA, among many others.
Professor Ojinmah’s research interests primarily revolved around African and Comparative Literatures, and he was particularly known for exploring the cultural conflicts that foster creativity in literature. His contributions to the field included literary criticism, novels, and various published works, such as “Chinua Achebe: New Perspectives” and “The Writings of Witi Ihimaera,” which are available on Amazon.
However, his most notable work is “Witches Brew and Other Stories,” a collection of short stories that delves into a wide array of cultural and contemporary beliefs and topics. From “Crossed Bones,” which narrates the horrors experienced by a boy-soldier in the Nigeria-Biafra war, to “Deception,” which explores the distressing phenomenon affecting West African immigrants in America, this collection offers a thought-provoking exploration of societal issues.
“Witches Brew” from the collection delves into various cultural matters, including the treatment of widows and the quest for elixirs for long life, shedding light on these complex themes that captivate readers.
Poetry, Christian Beliefs and Cultural Norms
In addition to his prose works, Professor Ojinmah also delved into poetry with his collection “Aloneness,” which covered diverse themes, including the interplay of Christian beliefs and cultural norms, everyday events, love, and the beauty of nature. He believed that the joy of poetry lies in its ability to speak to individuals in unique ways, and “Aloneness” indeed tugs at the reader’s heart with its rich themes.
Professor Umelo Ojinmah’s contribution to the literary world and academia is immeasurable, and his legacy will continue to influence scholars and readers alike. He resided in Seattle, Washington State, at the time of his passing, and his work reached audiences far beyond his homeland, making him a global literary figure.
Complexities of Culture and Society
On what inspired him to write, Prof Ojinmah disclosed thus: “Story telling was always part of me growing up. My mother was particularly good at telling sweet stories. Many of the seeds to the stories that I have been harvesting, especially those set in the past, came from her. Even now, I can hear her sweet voice in my head. To Nwamuka, I dedicate these stories.”
As the literary and academic communities bid farewell to a remarkable writer and academic, they celebrate the indelible mark Prof Ojinmah has left on the world of literature and his dedication to exploring the complexities of culture and society through his written words.