New African Writers
Dr. Bode Osanyin
August 20, 1940 – December 3, 2005
Chairman, US-Africa Literary Foundation
Bode Osanyin inspired the poet Macaulay Oluseyi
Akinbami who inspired the American Vid Beldavs that the African writer has a
special role in the development of an Africa that is prosperous and at peace
and through this a world seeking a transhuman harmony. Perhaps Blake had a
sense of the Yoruban Ife when he penned –
Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
The US-Africa Foundation is one instrument to help
bring about this vision.
Bode Osanyin spoke of the writer –
“For me, a literary artist should try his hands in
all the literary genres. I believe in the concept of the Total Theatre.
After all, the novel, poetry and plays are all inter-related. It is almost
like talent in one leading to talent in the others. I see the writer as a
visual artist using various canvases or materials for various works. For
the Fine Artist, the base line is depiction. For the writer, the base line
is the ability to tell a story. A writer is essentially a story-teller.
Within the shortest poem is a condensed story depicted, painted in words.
Writing is a verbal art. One should flow effortlessly into the other. Play
writing is a slightly distinct type of literary art. It is both creative
and technical. Playwriting is not a free agent. It is attached to the
institution called the theatre. This is why the playwright and the
dramatist should be trained in the theatre, which has its own norms and
conventions. The playwright should be a man of the theatre, an insider as
we call him. A poet may not be because he can chose to be a star-gazer. A
playwright is an earth gazer, thinking for example how to make the Angel
of the Lord fly across the stage! The playwright is at best a poet, but he
has to tailor his poetry to the physically or to the physical demands of
the stage. “
“I have always been an advocate of bilingualism
or multi-lingualism for African writers. A major predicament of black
Africa is linguistics. I am a pan-Africanist and a cultural innovator.
Pan-Africanism can only make sense through a re-focused linguistic agenda.
Africa has suffered cultural dislocation. The only saving grace is that
our native African languages miraculously survived the horrendous
experiences of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. The language is
the custodian of culture. It is in our African languages that the very
soul of our African cultures are embedded. Language defines the humanity
of man. Strip a man of his language and he becomes a roving beast. An
African child who cannot speak an African language is not an African. The
mentality of a man consists mainly of his linguistic prowess. That is why
a slave is completely deprived of his language, culture and religion. The
Africans stolen from the African continent and taken across the Atlantic
ocean into the so-called new world were so stripped of all human dignity,
knew that they have to wrestle back their honour and humanity by
consciously devising a new form of African languages by strenuously
recalling of the faint memory of the languages of their African
“My foremost and major consideration as a man of
the theatre is to produce a good play script that appeals spiritually,
intellectually and sensuously. I like to be socially relevant. I like to
make statements on contemporary issues that will stand the test of time.
As an African patriot, I like to enliven African history through the
writing of historical plays like Ogedengbe and The New Status. I see a
dramatist as an emotional historian. Between the wide spectrum of a
political manifesto and a philosophical testament, a playwright should
find a place. I can only aspire and pray that most of my writings will be,
at the end of the day, elevated to the status of testaments.”
Bode Osanyin conceived the Writers’ Resort as a place
where writers could connect and reconnect with Africa, the myths and
languages of the ancient land to create new stories infusing language with
the rhythms of still vital oral traditions and the dimensions of music,
dance and theater. The writer is the creator of the future Africa not the
politician unless it is a poet leader like Senghor.
Bode Osanyin conceived the Writers’ Resort in the rich
soil of Africa. The Writer’s Resort must be nourished to grow to become
that which Osanyin saw when he gave it birth.
With Bode Osanyin’s passing it is fitting that we
continue to listen and to heed his words. We can still hear his words in
the stillness in the early dawn before the sun breaks. A future exists to
be created on the stage of this world. Writers need a place like Writers’
Resort where they can learn to free themselves to create beauty that is
relevant to the concerns of women and men living on this earth.
US-Africa Literary Foundation
Memories of Bode Osanyin that you wish to share will be posted on this page.
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Time: 11:23 AM -0800
Bonjour! What a super websight! Very refreshing to peruse from where we live in
Paris (France). I eat frogs and drink wine. Woold like more informatons on this.
Best regards! Mikael.
Time: 01:40 AM -0800
There appeared in University of Lagos a man who styled himself The
Personification of Drama, and for many years in the Department of Creative Art
of the Faculty of Arts, where i was once a Chairman Caretaker Committee,
large crowd was attracted to him. One day, curious to know why Bode Osanyin
represent in the minds of students who love him, I walked into his Office in a
Dramatic posture as it were to get words from him on my uninvited visit. Sir,
What is the Difference of Poetry Reading and Demonstrative Poetry Reading,? the
Difference is is the question he quickly replied, and immediately enquired, Are
one of both or both at once? I learned from a tutor who was the former and also
from another who is the latter.
Good. we got talking and from then, i saw the osanyism in Bode as he talked
about the literary world and The writers resort Ijokoro ota, Bode Osanyin gave
me Free books written by him, His Drama work on Ogedengbe, His collection of
Poems and some other materials of his memory in Jamaica and Germany.
Dr Bode Osanyin is indeed an artist that is true to the name, He walks like a
man broken and wearied by many days, He stammers, methodically to get a
word out of his mouth, but that was the simple way of Understanding the Arts in
Bode. sometimes he is fast at talking, like the tongue of a ready writer and at
other times He takes his time to say a word. and agrees to only right things
about his trade.
Very few Poets in University of Lagos will recall the Day he read His Poems in a
meeting organized by the US-African literary foundation -(US-ALF) He walked up
to the stage, stood speechless for about Ten minutes, we all wondered what was
wrong as an aged Poet waited for God knows what to start his reading, Dr Hope
Eghagha, I can recall smiled as it were becoming impatient by this waiting.
seated in the Audience was Prof The Vincent, and the only "American" Lady Short
story expert in Department of English. Dr Bode started by Saying,
"Waiting" as if knowing how long we waited for him to read his poem, and again
kept quiet for another longer time, and repeated "Waiting" he read the Poem and
ended by saying "Still Waiting"
I kept the Picture on my mind for a long time, and can only give my personal
interpretation after the poems.
At the American Embassy USIS, in Lagos, we got an invitation to introduce
US-ALF, Bode Osanyin , Dr Hope Eghagha, and Myself with two other Poets, One
from Lagos and the other from Nssuka, He watched events and made practical
comments on the African arts, Bode was extra ordinary Dr Hope Eghagha a
Published Poet and Dramatist was also in his best as he points out Philosophical
inspirations of writers and their wits. Atim Eneida George Representative of the
US Embassy also inspired us all with a poem which she wrote with descriptions of
her locally made bracelet back in US.
His impact has become indelible in my "Flames and Fire From Africa"
Bode Lives On.
Time: 02:56 AM -0800
Well if you are asking me to comment about late Dr Bode, I do not know him
personally, but the way an American is regreting his death I knew that Africa
has lost a literary grand master. Who knows if I had known him before his
demise, I would have authored so many books by now. The cry I urge you to cry
for him is to make sure that his legacies lives on.