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Gabriel Okara (Gabriel Inomotimi Gbaingbain Okara) Biography

(1921– ), (Gabriel Inomotimi Gbaingbain Okara), Black Orpheus, Fisherman's Invocation, The Voice

Nigerian poet and novelist, born in Bumoundi in the Niger delta, educated at Government College, Umuahia, Yaba Higher College, and Northwestern University, USA. He became a book-binder, and wrote plays and features for broadcasting. Later, he was employed as Information Officer for the Eastern Nigerian Government Service. Together with Chinua Achebe, and at the time of the Nigerian Civil War, he was roving ambassador for Biafra's cause during part of 1969. His poetry appeared in Black Orpheus and major anthologies for many years, before the publication of his first collection, Fisherman's Invocation (1978; Commonwealth Poetry Prize, 1979), which is partly based on the Ijaw oral tradition. The Voice (1964), a short novel which experiments with rendering Ijaw speech patterns into English, made a great impact in its depiction of the doomed ‘hero’ Okolo, a charismatic and prophetic figure, undergoing Kafkaesque trials in his quest for truth and integrity (it) in the modern world.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Joseph O'Connor Biography to Cynthia Ozick Biography