Daniel O. Fagunwa



Daniel Olorunfẹmi Fagunwa
MBE (1903 — December 9, 1963), popularly known as D.O. Fagunwa, was a Nigerian author who pioneered the Yoruba language novel. He was born in Oke-Igbo, Ondo State, a chief of the Yoruba, Fagunwa studied at St. Luke’s School, Oke-Igbo and St. Andrew’s College, Oyo before becoming a teacher himself.

In 1938, Fagunwa wrote his Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irunmale, after entering a literary contest of the Nigerian education ministry, the novel was widely considered the first novel written in the Yorùbá language and one of the first to be written in any African language; Wole Soyinka translated the book into English in 1968 as The Forest of A Thousand Demons. Fagunwa’s later works include Igbo Olodumare (The Forest of God, 1949), Ireke Onibudo (1949), Irinkerindo ninu Igbo Elegbeje (Expedition to the Mount of Thought, 1954), and Adiitu Olodumare(1961).

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. Thematically, his novels also explore the divide between the Christian beliefs of Africa’s colonizers and the continent’s traditional religions. Fagunwa remains the most widely-read Yorùbá-language author, and a major influence on such contemporary writers as Amos Tutuola.

Fagunwa was awarded the Margaret Wong Prize in 1955 and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1959. He died in a motor accident in 1963.

D. O. Fagunwa was the first Nigerian writer to employ folk philosophy in telling his stories with exceedingly powerful imaginations.