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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

Edited by

Andy Willoughby

and Bob Beagrie


This issue of SLQ is dedicated to the memory of

ESIABA IROBI (1960 - 2010)





By Lookman Sanusi


Since death came calling Dr Esiaba Irobi for his higher role above on the 3rd of May 2010, the deluge of tributes have not ceased from his friends, colleagues, to former students, family and the arts communities both in Nigeria and overseas.

Esiaba was born in the Republic of Biafra on the 1st of October, 1960 but lived in three continents: Africa, Europe and America. Although the Theatre Professor died in Berlin, Germany, a committee of friends and family mourned him in London, United Kingdom on the 11th of June 2010. His kinsmen, the Ngwa clan in London, all clad in their traditional attires, friends – white, black and Africans in the Diaspora, including those on self- exile, colleagues and their children thronged Jasmin Club Hall in the Southwest of London to pay homage to the one fondly known to friends and admirers as The Minstrel.


There was a quick church service and the Nche Abali (Night vigil), commenced in earnest with Chief P C Nwogbe as the anchor man. Esiaba’s niece, Chioma Nwatuobi read “A Tribute to My Uncle”, to kick-start the night.

Shortly, Nnorom Azuonye, The Publisher/Editor of Sentinel Literary Quarterly, London paid a glorious tribute to his former teacher who had become his friend and brother. Nnorom read “A ceramic Life” from Esiaba’s controversial poetry collection Why I Don’t Like Philip Larkin and Other Poems, published in 2004.


There was a screening of Esiaba’s interview on a TV show; Chat Room, originally broadcast in Barbados where he talked about his directorial approach in a recent effort; For Coloured Girls – a play by Ntozake Shange, with which he attempted to further propagate his theory on African Metalanguage in African-American Performance Aesthetics which was staged between March 28th and 30th, 2008.


Esiaba’s only son, 15-year-old Nnamdi read a modified version of his father’s poem “Frankfurt”. This was a sad and very touching moment for everyone, especially when he read the lines:


Father, father, father,

I have tried to reach you by phone.

You said I could always call you in Berlin,

to share and to ease

the pain of your experiences.

But your line is dead.

I now resort to writing this,

for your ears are not deaf to poetry.


Dr Osita Okagbue of Goldsmiths College (University of London) said, “I find it difficult to talk about Dr Esiaba Irobi, because he should be talking about me.” Before he read three poems by Esiaba: “St. Louis”,” Jazz” and “London”, he described Esiaba as a lover of life and people who affected everyone around him.


Tributes were delivered on behalf of Prof. Dapo Adelugba and Prof. Femi Osofisan of the University of Ibadan by Dr Sola Adeyemi who read two poems: “Shower Inside” and “I Will Miss Your Voice”, by Prof. Osofisan. Dr Adeyemi then went on to read “First Draft” and “Second Draft” – the first two parts of ‘The Best Old People’s Home in Britain’ from Esiaba’s Why I Don’t Like Philip Larkin and Other Poems.


In his own short tribute, Chimaobi Ogbonna (alias Nwadenjo) quoted Esiaba; “The Pen is mightier than the Sword. Kill me with a bullet, you would not have accomplished anything, but take away my pen and you would have killed me”. A statement he believed was a reflection of Irobi’s total commitment to literature. Writing was Iribi’s life. Dr Joseph Ichongiri substantiated this when he took to the floor next. He showered encomiums on his former schoolmate whom he described as “a controversial academic and a very brave man.”


Before his death, Esiaba took up a position as a Distinguished Research Fellow in Freie University, Berlin, Germany in the “Interweaving Performance Cultures” programme at the University’s International Research Centre.


Professor Esiaba Irobi was a prolific writer whose works include: Nwokedi, The Colour of Rusting Gold, Hangmen Also Die, Hand Grenades, Cotyledons, What Song do Mosquitoes Sing? Why the Vulture’s Head is Naked, Inflorescence: Selected Poems, 1977-1988, The Fronded Circle, Put out the House Lights and Cemetery Road (Winner of the World Drama Trust Award, 1992). Cemetery Road has also been shortlisted for the NLNG Prize for Literature 2010. His works yet to be published are: “How to Make Love to A Negro All Night and Survive It”, “A White Man’s Guide to Black Woman”, “Theorizing African Cinema: Ontology, Teleology, Semiology and Narratology (Routledge, London), “Before They Danced in Chains: African Metalanguage in African –American Performance Aesthetics’ and his novel, “The Intellectual Terrorist.”





Lookman Sanusi is an actor, writer and journalist. A widely anthologised author, he is the author of the award-winning play, Skeleton. He is also the Artistic Director, Sentinel Literature Festival.


SPQ #2





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

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