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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


"When man waits and waits for God to act and God does not act, he takes on the role of God and acts. That's why He made us in his own image."

           - Esiaba Irobi



By Toyin Adepoju

In understanding Esiaba Irobi as an ancestor I am not using the concept of ancestor in a purely historical sense. My use of this concept is an effort to explore the ontological significance of the understanding of ancestors in various cultures, from the ethnic cultures of Esiaba’s Igbo and other ethnicities in Nigeria, Africa and beyond to trans-ethnic religious cultures like the Catholic church and Buddhism and more recent spiritual cultures, as in contemporary Western magic.

All these cultures are unified on one point in relation to people whose bodies have ceased functioning, and are therefore no longer visible in that body among other embodied beings. This is the notion that they have experienced a transformation but are still alive. These cultures also claim that these figures are at times active in human life, while remaining invisible to most humans. The means of communication between humans and these beings is described as being through dreams, through thoughts, among other possibilities. Accounts of ghosts also suggest that these departed people could make their presence felt through a palpable sense of presence while remaining invisible, along with being able to affect physical objects.

I won’t pretend to know whether or not these conceptions accurately describe reality. They represent one explanation of people’s experiences that suggest the survival of life after death. My own dreams of my departed father have been so meaningful I seem to experience his presence in dreams with the palpable force of the unique sense of presence communicated by an individual.

One can attempt contact with an immaterial entity, also known as an NPE, a Non-Physical Entity, in a variety of ways. The method I would suggest is that of sustained concentration on the individual and asking them to communicate themselves. Doing it just before sleep can be particularly helpful since it could influence one’s dreams, perhaps creating an opening for the non-physical entity while the mind is at rest and receptive.

In many cultures, such efforts are conducted through a shrine where objects evocative of the departed person are kept. Since the interaction of many of us with Esiaba was largely virtual, it could be useful to create a virtual shrine. This shrine could act as the point of focus of the efforts to communicate with him. The shrine could contain images and other forms that evoke his memory. Examples of these could be pictures of him and quotes from him. These quotes could be examples of his formal and informal communication. Examples of these can be found in his academic articles, one at least of which is publicly accessible online “The Problem with Post-Colonial Theory”. Such quotes could also come from interviews of him, from his own comments reproduced in recollections of him as well through his own interactions evident at the online archives on Yahoo Groups of a group he belonged to, the Wole Soyinka Society as well as the Facebook group formed by his former students; Dr Esiaba Irobi Changed My Life. One can read people’s views of him in the Facebook group as well as critical works on his poetry and plays.

This shrine can be virtual in terms of a structure of images, words and ideas that exists only in the virtual space of the computer or of the mind. It can also be constructed in concrete form if one is so inclined.

The core issue is to concentrate on him, wish him well and request communication with him and perhaps help from him, a help he might be more readily able to render on account of his freedom from the limitations of the body.

One could need some research to understand Esiaba’s ruling passions, but I am particularly interested in his passion for creating hermeneutic frameworks - ideas and practices that guide interpretation of phenomena - that derive from classical African thought.

If Yoruba Orisa are at times described as deified ancestors, called upon in terms of the contexts in which they distinguished themselves while on earth, and Catholic saints are called upon in terms of such specialisations, why can’t one try to relate with Esiaba in terms of those qualities he was most associated with, those visions that burned most brightly within him?

Suggested Reading:

To read more on relating with ancestors one could see African Wisdom by Owen Burnham.




Toyin Adepoju is an aspiring scholar whose focus is on relationships between the arts,philosophy and spirituality.His education is in terms of relationships between marginalised and dominant discourses in Africa,Asia and the West.


SPQ #2





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