Cyprian Ekwensi

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ekwensi, Cyprian


Born 1921 in Minna. Nigerian novelist who writes in English.

In the novels People of the City (1954; Russian translation, 1965) and Jagua Nana (1961), Ekwensi criticizes the morality of Nigeria’s developing bourgeoisie and reveals the psychological problems of urbanization in Africa. In the novel Beautiful Feathers (1963) he appealed to the people to unite. The fate of the people involved in the ethnic conflict that initiated the civil war of 1967–70 are dealt with in the novel Iska (1966). The life of the Fula cattle breeders is depicted poetically in the novella Burning Crass (1962; Russian translation, 1963).

Ekwensi has also written books for young people and retellings of popular legends.


Lokotown and Other Stories. [No place] 1966.
Restless City and Christmas Gold. London, 1975.


Ivasheva, V. V. Literatura stran Zapadnoi Afriki. Moscow, 1967.
Vavilov, V. N. Proza Nigerii. Moscow, 1973.
Vavilov, V. N. “Literatura Nigerii.” In Sovremennye literatury Afriki: Sev. i Zap. Afrika. Moscow, 1973.
Laurence, M. “Masks of the City: Cyprian Ekwensi.” In her Long Drums and Cannons. London-Melbourne-Toronto, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Now I understand Cyprian Ekwensi's Burning Grass thesis: When 'they' set fire to the plains, the grass gets burnt and the vulnerable move South in search of pasture and fodder.
class="MsoNormalHe expressed that point blatantly when the famous Nigerian writer, Cyprian Ekwensi visited Kenya and gave a public lecture at the University of Nairobi.
Cyprian Ekwensi is one of the early Nigerian creative writers who has been brought to limelight in Africa and beyond through his writings.
Van later founded the Heinemann African Writer's Series that put African writers such as Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Cyprian Ekwensi, and others into the limelight.
Hardly surprising, bearing in mind that Nigeria has produced a healthy number of great writers over the years, including not just Adichie but Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Flora Nwapa, and Buchi Emecheta, to name a few.
Eke's piece on national belonging in the work of Nigerian dramatist Zulu Sofola; Louisa Uchum Egbunike's article on Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City, Ernest Emenyonu's tribute to Ekwensi; Shalini Nadaswaran's examination of gendered relationships in Flora Nwapa's Efuru, Blessing Diala-Ogamba's and Hellen Roselyne Shigali's treatment of psychological violence and gendered representations (respectively) in Bessie Head; Sophie Ogwude's tribute to Dennis Brutus; and Joyce Ashuntantang's analysis of Es'kia Mphahlele's Down Second Avenue.
The long list includes The Combat (Kole Omotoso), The Last Duty (Isidore Okpewho), Toads of War (Eddie Iroh), Divided We Stand (Cyprian Ekwensi), Heroes (Festus Iyayi) and a host of others.
Cyprian Ekwensi heard the story of An African Night's Entertainment (1962) from an old Hausa Mallam (scholar), and traditional tales were heard by Ezekiel Mphahlele who encapsulates the crux and spirit of African folktale in his "Educating the Imagination" (1993):
She's not like Cyprian Ekwensi's Jagua Nana, who in a bid to be accepted in society, goes out of her way to acquire those coquettish mannerisms that make men look in her direction.
While in Lagos, Achebe began writing Things Fall Apart, seeking to follow in the footsteps of other African fiction writers such as Amos Tutuola, author of The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952) and Cyprian Ekwensi, who wrote People of the City (1954).
While working for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, he composed his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1959), at a time when Nigerian prose fiction was represented solely by the fantastic folklore romances of Amos Tutuola and the popular stories of urban life of Cyprian Ekwensi. Achebe's novel introduced serious social and psychological analysis into Nigerian literature.
Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, and Wole Soyinka have weighed in.