Ojo-Ade, Femi 1941–
Ojo-Ade, Femi 1941–
PERSONAL: Born July 23, 1941 in Lagos, Nigeria; naturalized U.S. citizen; son of Oloyede and Abiola Ojo-Ade; married Omolara (a librarian) July 26, 1969; children: five. Ethnicity: "African (black)." Education: McMaster University, B.A., 1967; Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, M.A., 1968; University of Toronto, Ph.D, 1975. Politics: Independent. Religion: "African Traditional." Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, soccer, African, jazz, and R&B music.
ADDRESSES: Office—African and African Diaspora Studies Program, St. Mary's College of Maryland, 18952 E. Fisher Rd., St. Mary's City, MD 20686-3001; fax: 240-895-4958. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, associate professor, 1977–80, professor and department chair, 1980–90; St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. Mary's City, professor, 1990–92, 1996–, department chair, 1993–96, coordinator of African and African Diaspora studies program, 1999–.
MEMBER: Modern Language Association of America, African Literature Association, African Studies Association, Francophone Studies Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: MATATU Prize for Children's Literature, Association of Nigerian Authors, 1999, for One Little Girl's Dreams.
Analytic Index of Presence Africaine, 1947–1972, Three Continents Press (Washington, DC), 1977.
René Maran: Ecrivain Negro-Africain, F. Nathan (Paris, France), 1977, translation published as Rene Maran, the Black Frenchman: A Bio-critical Study, Three Continents Press (Washington, DC), 1984.
Colour and Culture in Literature: An Inaugural Lecture Delivered at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife on Tuesday, June 5, 1984, Obafemi Awolowo University Press (Ile-Ife, Nigeria), 1987.
Home, Sweet, Sweet Home (novel), University Press (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1987.
On Black Culture, Obafemi Awolowo University Press (Ile-Ife, Nigeria), 1989.
Leon-Gontran Damas: The Spirit of Resistance, Karnak House (London, England), 1993.
(Editor) Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive: African Perspectives on African-American Writers, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.
Being Black, Being Human: More Essays on Black Culture, Obafemi Awolowo University Press (Ile-Ife, Nigeria), 1996.
Exile at Home (poetry), International Publishers (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1998.
One Little Girl's Dreams (novel), College Press (Ibadan, Nigeria), 1998.
Ken Saro-Wiwa: A Bio-critical Study, Africana Legacy Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Death of a Myth: Critical Essays on Nigeria, Africa World Press (Trenton, NJ), 2000.
Dead End (novel), College Press (Ibadan, Nigeria), 2001.
The Almond Tree (novel), Amoge Press (Lagos, Nigeria), 2001.
Black Gods (short stories), African Heritage Press (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
Les paradis terrestres (novel), African Heritage Press (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
Being Black, Being Human: More Essays on Black Culture, African World Press (Trenton, NJ), 2004.
Configuring the African World (essays), Africa World Press (Trenton, NJ), 2006.
Dreamers (short stories), Amoge Press (Lagos, Nigeria), 2006.
Negro: Raça e Cultura (literary criticism), Press of the Federal University of Bahia (Bahia, Brazil), 2006.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Carnival, essays, Africa World Press (Trenton, NJ); Patriots, a play; Fela: Abami Eda; research on Afro-Brazilian literature, African women writers, and women in traditional African religion.
SIDELIGHTS: Presence Africaine, a journal of black culture launched by Alioune Diop in 1947, contains essays, studies, papers, poems, plays, and short stories by Africans and non-Africans, including Aimé Césaire, Julius Nyerere, Sékou Touré, Jean-Paul Sartre, André Gide, Leroi Jones, and Malcolm X. It contains informa-tion about the culture, development, and status of African people worldwide. Femi Ojo-Ade's Analytic Index of Presence Africaine, 1947–1972 includes more than 4,700 entries, nearly equally divided by author and subject. The author section also includes anonymous and corporate headings. The index is a tool for those interested in black studies.
Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive: African Perspectives on African-American Writers, which Ojo-Ade edited, is a collection of explorations by African critics of the connections between African and African-American poets and writers, including Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Gloria Naylor, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Paule Marshall.
In Ken Saro-Wiwa: A Bio-critical Study, Ojo-Ade documents the career and writings of a Nigerian author, journalist, activist, and popular television star who was executed in 1995 in what some have described as a case of legalized murder. Saro-Wiwa was an outspoken member of the Ogoni people who challenged the exploitation of their land by the multi-national petroleum industry. The protest took the form of a massive though peaceful public demonstration that included demands for financial compensation for the loss of natural resources (oil) and resulted in the near-total destruction of the ethnic group by government intervention. Christopher Wise, writing in Research in African Literatures, described Ojo-Ade's study as "an insightful but finally embittered book; his critical analysis of Saro-Wiwa's writings are marked by his despair for a country that is apparently beyond redemption, profoundly unworthy of Saro-Wiwa's supreme sacrifice."
Ojo-Ade's fiction expresses similar sentiments according to some critics. In Black Gods: A Collection of Short Stories, he portrays characters who appear to be, according to World Literature Today contributor Norbert Schurer, undeserving of whatever shallow status they seem to have achieved in their own eyes. His characters are flawed, Schurer wrote, and the author's writing lacks polish, but Ojo-Ade's distinctly African perspective "offers a new view of Africa in that it no longer focuses on the past but the present."
Ojo-Ade told CA: "Writing came naturally, as an expression and an extension of my persona and personality (a scholar in the humanities engaged in critiquing literature and culture). My gradual focus on the African (continental and diasporic) experience increased that writing commitment. Thus, to my critical work, I came to add creativity. To my mind, both are complementary.
"My work is influenced, first and foremost, by the tragic experience and presence of blacks all over the world, where they (we) continue to be victims of insidious racism, an intolerable enemy that seems to be a constant conqueror. Secondly, the generation of writers before me, particularly Aimé Césaire of Martinique, Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, and Sembène Ousmane of Senegal constitutes a source of pride, a drive to write and address issues cogent to African, and indeed, human society."
Ojo-Ade more recently told CA: "I hope that readers would think and act upon the themes discussed therein, and that my books will be considered by posterity as an honest commentary on my (African) people's tragic existence. One fact underscored by the books is the lack of real change in our destiny in a world that has become very sophisticated in its dehumanization of Africa and Africans. Attesting to that situation is somewhat considered anathema, due to the myth that progress is being made and that Africans are to be blamed for everything happening to us. Hopefully, the books will contribute to the realization of that lie, and they would make people wake up and work towards real change, for the betterment of humanity."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
African American Review, fall, 1999, Adebayo Williams, review of Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive: African Perspectives on African-American Writers, p. 530.
African Studies Review, September, 2000, Jonathan Haynes, review of Ken Saro-Wiwa: A Bio-critical Study, p. 170.
American Book Review Annual, 1978, review of Analytic Index of Presence Africaine, 1947–1972, p. 149.
American Literature, March, 1997, review of Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive, p. 253.
Black Scholar, fall, 1996, review of Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive, p. 105.
Choice, March, 1978, review of Analytic Index of Presence Africaine, 1947–1972, p. 46; September, 1985, review of Rene Maran, the Black Frenchman: A Bio-critical Study, p. 123; May, 2000, P.W. Stine, review of Ken Saro-Wiwa, p. 1644.
CLA Journal, December, 1997, David Dorsey, review of Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive, p. 229.
International Journal of African Historical Studies, summer, 1998, Janis A. Mayes, review of Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive, p. 686.
Journal of Modern African Studies, March, 2001, Philippa Hall, review of Ken Saro-Wiwa, p. 194.
Law Society Journal, February, 2004, Annette Marfording, review of Black Gods, p. 94.
Reference and Research Book News, November, 1996, review of Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive, p. 71.
Research in African Literatures, winter, 1991, Ode S. Ogede, review of On Black Culture, p. 208; spring, 2001, Christopher Wise, review of Ken Saro-Wiwa, p. 131.
Third World Quarterly, August, 2000, Scott Pegg, review of Ken Saro-Wiwa, p. 701.
World Literature Today, winter, 1986, review of Rene Maran, the Black Frenchman, p. 165; spring, 2000, Chris Waters, review of Ken Saro-Wiwa, p. 346; July-September, 2003, Norbert Schurer, review of Black Gods, p. 87.