Edwin Thumboo's Acquaintance with African Writers

Ee Tiang Hong

Thumboo's experience of a resurgent Africa was gradual but cumulative. In 1969, he completed his thesis on African poetry, after a three-year study. Visits to Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya in 1968 brought him face to face with such leading figures in the African literary world as Lenrie Peters, Kofie Awoonor, Wole Soyinka, J.P Clark, Ngugi wa Thiongo and critics such as Uli Bierre and Gerald Moore. By then, his new perspective was already evident in his critical writings. He has acknowledged his acquaintance with writing from the Third World -- Southeast Asia, Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Malta, Mauritius, Africa, the Middle East, the West Indies and India through a long list of their major writers: Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand, Kamala Das, Adil Jussawalla, Nissim Ezekiel, R. Partharasathy, Chinua Achebe, Wilson Harris, Christopher Okigbo, Edward Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, Okot p'Bitek, Gabriel Okara, Wole Soyinka, Taban Lo Liyong, Peter Nazareth, Albert Wendt, Jack Lahui, Hone Tufare, Wong Phui Nam, including Black poets such as Ted Jones and Mike Harper. These are writers whose functions combine "large commitments with a necessary attention to the demands of their craft" (1978: 352-353).[43]

The preceding passage has been quoted from the late Ee Tiang Hong's Responsibility and Commitment: The Poetry of Edwin Thumboo, ed. Leong Liew Geok (Singapore: Centre for Advanced Studies/Singapore University Press, 1997. It can be ordered from Singapore University Press, 10 Kent Ridge, Singapore 119260 [GPL].

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature Edwin Thumboo