Professor Harry Garuba, one of the most talented Nigerian poets and literary scholars, died at 10:AM on Friday 28 February of leukemia in Cape Town, South Africa. He was 61.
His first collection of poems, ”Shadow & Dream and Other Poems”, was published by Abiola Irele’s New Horn Press when he was barely 24 and already a lecturer in English at the University of Ibadan.
His second collection of poems, ”Animist Chants and Memorials” was published in 2017 by Steve Shaba’s Kraft Books Limited. As an Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town, he held a joint appointment in African Studies and the English Department. He had taught at the University of Zululand, South Africa.
As a student at the University of Ibadan, he founded The Poetry Club which met every Thursday. It was at this Club that the creative flowers of poets like Afam Akeh, Remi Raji, Onookome Okome, Chiedu Ezeanah, Bose Shabah, Sanya Osha, Niyi Okunoye first bloomed.
As a student in Government College, Ughelli, and Edo College, Benin City, where he did his A-Levels, Garuba wrote poetry and plays. His one-act play, ”Pantomime for Saint Apartheid’s Day”, was published in FESTAC Anthology of Nigerian New Writing in 1977.
He was the editor of ”Voices From the Fringe”, the Association of Nigerian Authors’s anthology of New Nigerian poetry.
Before he left Nigeria for South Africa, he had served as Assistant General Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors. He was also the Managing Editor of ANA REVIEW, the journal of the Association of Nigerian Authors.
Professor Harry Garuba was also on the Editorial Board of a defunct Lagos-based daily, The Post Express.
In his many academic essays, he showed that he was an insightful critic and a clear original thinker. He was survived by his mother, wife, children and other relations.