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Vol.3. No. 4. July - September 2010





Afam Akeh
Andy Willoughby
Claire Girvan
Christian Ward
Derek Adams
Esiaba Irobi
Hannah Lowe
Hunter Liguore
Ikechukwu Obialo Azuonye
Karunamay Sinha
Kate Horsley
Laura Solomon
Lookman Sanusi
Malcolm Bray
Mark Lewis
Moa-Aaricia Lindunger
N Quentin Woolf
Nina Romano
Nnorom Azuonye
Norbert O. Eze
Olu Oguibe
Pius Adesanmi
Robert Lee Frazier
Toyin Adepoju
Uche Nduka
Wayne Scheer
Zino Asalor


This issue of SLQ is dedicated to the memory of

ESIABA IROBI (1960 - 2010)



Excerpts from

Funeral of the Minstrel

by Nnorom Azuonye


© Olu Oguibe, 2010




Esiaba Irobi taught me Theatre History, Improvisation, Basic Acting Skills and Introduction to Playwriting at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka between 1987 and 1989. He was the most engaging teacher I have ever had in my life. The only person that came close to him in the classroom was Eni Jones Umuko. These two people had drama flowing through their veins. They made learning fun, and made us proud to be dramatic artists at a time some people still sniffed at Dramatic Arts or Theatre Arts as it is known in some institutions. Irobi and Umuko made us feel it was the best thing in the world to be a part of.


Twenty-three years after I first encountered the wonderful soul that is Esiaba Irobi, after we went from having a teacher/mentor-student/mentee relationship, to becoming friends and collaborators, and in the last few years, brothers, the earthly interaction was suddenly cut short by death.


I was particularly affected by Esiaba’s passing in a way I found difficult to comprehend. It was like I lost somebody to whom I was related by blood. I shut down and could not work for a few days. When a mutual friend, Molara Wood, the Art and Culture Editor at Next, Nigeria, asked me to write a short piece on Esiaba, I wrote “Esiaba Irobi, the intellectual terrorist” virtually on auto-pilot between the hours of 4 and 5 in the morning. I also spent hours on end reading A Ceramic Life, a poem Esiaba dedicated to his friend Chukwudi Eboh who died in a motor accident years ago. It pained me that the baton had been passed to us, Esiaba’s friends to write about his own ceramic life.


“Funeral of the Minstrel” is my own little monument to the memory of Esiaba Irobi. Esiaba himself is a character in this play. Or should I say, his spirit is a character in this play. I have generally created his words in this play. Where I use his own words, I have put them in quotes.


The world has truly lost a rare gem. He has however not died. It is our collective responsibility not to let him die.


Nnorom Azuonye


June 9, 2010




The People


New Ekumeku          

(A group of 20 or more ex-students of Esiaba Irobi)





(Other Esiaba’s ex-students, members of the New Ekumeku)



(Esiaba’s ex-student who predeceased him.)


Esiaba Irobi


Dede Okoronkwo

(An Ngwa elder)



(Leader of Esiaba’s age grade)


Ezidiegwu (Age grade member)


Chiehika (Age grade member)


Esiaba’s Age Grade members




The Action Sequence
The scenes in this play blend into each other. There are no breaks and no set changes.

The stage is pitch black. Out of the darkness the sound of stamping feet and angry voices rise. Lights rise to reveal men within the age range of 40 to 50 years. Their feet stamping and chanting rise to a fever pitch. ONYEBUCHI leads and the rest respond.
- Obu ngiri?
- Iwe.
- Ngiri?
- Iwe, iwe njuru anyi obi, Iwe.
- Obu ngiri ndi iwe anyi?
- Onwu.
- Ngiri?
- Onwu. Onwu Esiaba, Onwu.




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Nnorom Azuonye is the Director of Operations & Creative Services, Eastern Light EPM International, UK.

He is the Founder & Administrator, Sentinel Poetry Movement, and Editor, Sentinel Literary Quarterly. He is also the Publisher of Sentinel Nigeria - the online magazine of contemporary Nigerian writing, and Publisher/Editor of Nollywood Focus.

His books include Blue Hyacinths (2010, ed. with Geoff Stevens), The Bridge Selection: Poems for the Road (2005), and Letter to God and Other Poems (2003). His interviews, essays, poems, and short stories have appeared in several magazines & newspapers including; African Writing, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Orbis, DrumVoices Revue, Next, Eclectica and Agenda.  




Sentinel Literary Quarterly is Published by Sentinel Poetry Movement | Editor: Nnorom Azuonye

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