Daniel O. Fagunwa

D. O. Fágúnwà (Source: English Wikipedia)On 7 December 1963, Nigerian author Daniel Olorunfẹmi Fágúnwà, popularly known as D. O. Fágúnwà, drowned, suddenly falling into the Kaduna River while waiting to cross by ferry. Fagunwa’s first novel, Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmọlẹ̀, (1938; The Forest of a Thousand Daemons), is widely considered the first full-length novel published in the Yoruba language.

Daniel Oròwọlé Fágúnwà was born in Òkè-Igbó, Ondo State in 1903.  He attended St. Luke's School, Òkè-Igbó from 1916 to 1924. After completing his primary education there, he taught as a student teacher in the same school in 1925. From 1926 to 1929, he attended St. Andrew's College, Ọ̀yọ́ in order to train as a teacher. After completing his studies, he worked as a teacher for nearly twenty years. Between 1955 and 1959, he served as an administrator and consultant with the Publications Branch of the Ministry of Education in Western Nigeria. From 1959 until his death, he was the representative of Heinemann Educational Books in Nigeria.

His literary career started in 1938, when he participated in a literary contest of the Nigerian education ministry. Fágúnwà submitted Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmọlẹ̀. Wole Soyinka translated the book into English in 1968 as The Forest of A Thousand Demons, first published by Thomas Nelson, then Random House in 1982. Fágúnwà's later works include Igbó Olódùmarè (The Forest of God, 1949), Ìrèké Oníbùdó (1949), Ìrìnkèrindó nínú Igbó Elégbèje (Expedition to the Mount of Thought, 1954), and Àdììtú Olódùmarè (1961). Fágúnwà's novels draw heavily on folktale traditions and idioms, including many supernatural elements. His heroes are usually Yorùbá hunters, who interact with kings, sages, and even gods in their quests. In 1949 Oxford University Press published Fagunwa’s autobiographical account of his sojourn in Britain.

Fágúnwà was awarded the Margaret Wrong Prize in 1955 and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1959.

(Source: Wikipedia, accessed on 29 November 2023)

Selected publications

Adventures in the forest of a thousand daemons : a play [a stage adaptation in English of Daniel Fágúnwà's Ògbójú ọdẹ nínú igbó irúnmọlẹ̀] / Femi Osofisan; D.O. Fagunwa. - Lagos, Nigeria : Concept Publications Limited, [2018]

Ìrèké : saga of the sugarcane man [a stage adaptation in English of Daniel Fagunwa's Ìrèké Oníbùdó] / Femi Osofisan; D.O. Fagunwa. - Lagos, Nigeria : Concept Publications Limited, [2018]

Celebrating D.O. Fágúnwà : aspects of African and world literary history / Adéléke Adéè̳kó̳, Akinwumi Adesokan, Wole Soyinka. - Bookcraft, Ibadan, Nigeria, 2017

In the forest of Olodumare : a translation of D.O. Fagunwa's Igbo Olodumare / D.O. Fagunwa; Wole Soyinka. - Ibadan, Nigeria : Nelson Publishers Limited in association with Evans Brothers Nigeria Publishers Limited, 2010

Form, Theme, and Style in the Narratives of D. O. Fagunwa / Bernth Lindfors. 
In: The International fiction review, 1979, Vol.6 (1), p.11

Àdììtú Olódùmarè : pelu ọpọlọpọ ibere / D.O. Fagunwa. - [Edinburgh] : Nelson, [1964, ©1961]

Irinkerindo ninu igbo elégbèje. Apa keta, Ogboju ọdẹ ninu igbo irunmalẹ  / D.O. Fagunwa. - Edinburgh ; New York : T. Nelson, 1961
Translated as Expedition to the mount of thought (the third saga)

Ogboju ọdẹ ninu igbo irunmalẹ / D.O. Fagunwa. - London, etc. : Thomas Nelson, 1961, ©1950

Àsàyàn ìtàn / D.O. Fagunwa and others. - London : T. Nelson, [©1959]

Itan oloyin : ti a ṣe akoso rẹ / D.O. Fagunwa. - London ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1954

See also: The Fágúnwà Study Group website.

Timeline of Yoruba-language writers via DBpedia and Wikidata