Christopher Okigbo

Christopher Okigbo Biography / Profile

Christopher Nixton Ifekandu Okigbo was born in Ojoto, Anambra State, Nigeria on August 16th, 1932  to a Catholic family.

Christopher Okigbo Age

Christopher Okigbo would have been 90 years old, if he were alive today. May his soul rest in peace.

Christopher Okigbo Early Life

Okigbo was the fourth child of Chief James Okoye Okigbo (Onyeamaluligolu Oda), a pioneer Catholic schoolmaster and Mrs Anna Onugwalobi Okigbo. He was the fourth out of five siblings; Chief Lawrence Chkwuemeka (Onwa of Ojoto), Chief Dr Pius Nwabufo (Ebekuodike of Ojoto), Mrs Susie Anakwenze, Onodugo and Mrs Victoria Okuzu, Iyom.

Okigbo studied at the Catholic school of Umulobia and began his secondary studies in the State College of Umuahia in 1945. He was subsequently admitted to the University of Ibadan, like other major writers such as Wole Soyinka, Elechi Amadi, John Pepper Clark and Kole Omotso. He was destined for a medical career, but he soon changed to studying Greek and Latin. Editor-in-Chief of the University Weekly, he translated Greek and Latin authors. He graduated in 1956 before teaching, notably in the University of Nigeria, where he also held the office of librarian.

Christopher Okigbo Career

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Western classics at the University of Ibadan in 1956, Okigbo held positions as a teacher, librarian at the University of Nigeria, private secretary to Nigeria’s federal minister of research and information, and West African editor of Transition, an African literary magazine. He was awarded first prize for poetry in the 1966 Festival of the Negro Arts in Dakar but declined the prize because he felt that writing must be judged as good or bad, not as a product of a specific ethnic group or race.

Okigbo was an active member of the community of writers and artists in Nigeria. As assistant librarian at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he founded the African Authors Association. Along with the writers Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe, Okigbo belonged to the Mbari Writers and Artists Club in Ibadan, an organization for writers and visual and theater artists that maintained a publishing house. Okigbo served as a manager for Cambridge University Press of West Africa and, with Chinua Achebe, founded Citadel Press. 

Okigbo published three volumes of poetry during his short lifetime: Heavensgate (1962), Limits (1964), and Silences (1965). His collected poems appeared posthumously in 1971 under the title Labyrinths, with Path of Thunder. Okigbo had a deep familiarity with ancient Greek and Latin writers and with modern poets such as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, as well as with Igbo (Ibo) mythology. His poems are highly personal, richly symbolic renderings of his experiences, his thoughts on the role of the poet, and other themes. He weaves images of the forests, animals, and streams of his native Igbo landscape into works that are often obscure, allusive, or difficult. Despite this, his verse is intensely evocative and shows careful craftsmanship. Okigbo became the most widely translated of all Nigerian poets. A volume entitled Collected Poems was published in 1986.

In 1967 Okigbo’s efforts to launch a publishing company in Enugu with the novelist Chinua Achebe came to an abrupt end after his death while fighting in the war for Biafran independence from Nigeria.

Christopher Okigbo Personal Life

When the Nigeria-Biafra war broke out, Okigbo joined as a major and was killed in combat in 1967 in Nsukka, Enugu State. He was married and has a daughter named Obiageli Annabel Ibrahimat Okigbo.

Christopher Okigbo Awards

Okigbo was awarded the National Order of Merit of Biafra after his death and was the subject of the Christopher Okigbo International Conference held in 2007 at Boston University. The Christopher Okigbo Foundation furthers his name and influence. In 1966 Okigbo won the Langston Hughes award for African poetry at the Festival of Black African Arts in Dakar but he refused it, believing that art cannot be burdened by racial considerations.

Christopher Okigbo Net Worth

His net worth is not available.

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