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The Unforgotten Yoruba Author

Late Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa (D. O Fagunwa) was born in 1903 at Oke-Igbo, Ondo state, Yorubaland. He attended St. Luke’s School, Oke-Igbo and proceeded to St. Andrew’s College, Oyo, where he later became a teacher. He was the pioneering author of Yoruba own novels.

In the year 1938, he entered a literary contest of the Nigerian education ministry, where he wrote the epic ‘Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀’, this novel has been and remains the topnotch Yoruba novel in Yorubaland, it is widely considered the first novel written in the Yoruba language and one of the first to be written in any African language. Prof. Wole Soyinka translated it into English in 1968 as The Forest of A Thousand Daemons. Fagunwa’s novels draw heavily on folktale traditions and idioms, including many supernatural elements. His heroes are usually Yoruba hunters, who interact with kings, sages, and even gods in their quests.

Fagunwa was awarded the Margaret Wrong Prize in 1955 and became a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1959. He sadly died when the ground by the bank of the river gave way under his feet and he incidentally fell into the river. He tried to swim out of the water but he sank further because the canoe by the river also fell and collapsed on him, the trajedy happened on the 9th of December, 1963.

His lagacy includes many authors who have followed his steps and the ‘reading and writing’ in Yoruba language itself is an attribute to him. Fagunwa has also received many awards posthumously, and award categories named in his honour.

(Source from: Proudly Yorùbá)

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