while in "Distances" (1964) he celebrates his final aesthetic and psychic return to his indigenous religious roots:
Another influential figure in Okigbo's early years was his older brother Pius Okigbo, who would later become the renowned economist and first Nigerian Ambassador to the European Economic Commission (EU).
During those years, he began publishing his work in various journals, notably Black Orpheus, a literary journal intended to bring together the best works of African and African American writers. While his poetry can be read in part as powerful expression of postcolonial African nationalism, he was adamantly opposed to Negritude, which he denounced as a romantic pursuit of the "mystique of blackness" for its own sake; he similarly rejected the conception of a commonality of experience between Africans and black Americans, a stark philosophical contrast to the editorial policy of Black Orpheus. It was on precisely these grounds that he rejected the first prize in African poetry awarded to him at the 1965 Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, declaring that there is no such thing as a Negro or black poet.
In 1963, he left Nsukka to assume the position of West African Representative of Cambridge University Press at Ibadan, a position affording the opportunity to travel frequently to the United Kingdom, where he attracted further attention. At Ibadan, he became an active member of the Mbari literary club, and completed, composed or published the works of his mature years, including "Limits" (1964), "Silences" (1962–65), "Lament of the Masks" (commemorating the centenary of the birth of W. B. Yeats in the forms of a Yoruba praise poem, 1964), "Dance of the Painted Maidens" (commemorating the 1964 birth of his daughter, Obiageli or Ibrahimat, whom he regarded as a reincarnation of his mother) and his final highly prophetic sequence, "Path of Thunder" (1965–67), which was published posthumously in 1971 with his magnum opus, Labyrinths, which incorporates the poems from the earlier collections.
With the secession of Biafra, Okigbo immediately joined the new state's military as a volunteer, field-commissioned major. An accomplished soldier, he was killed in action during a major push by Nigerian troops against Nsukka, the university town where he found his voice as a poet, and which he vowed to defend with his life. Earlier, in July, his hilltop house at Enugu, where several of his unpublished writings (perhaps including the beginnings of a novel) was destroyed in a bombing. Also destroyed was Pointed Arches, a poetic autobiography which he describes in a letter to his friend and biographer, Sunday Anozie, as an account of the experiences of life and letters which conspired to sharpen his creative imagination.
Several of his unpublished papers are, however, known to have survived the war. Inherited by his daughter, Obiageli, who established the Christopher Okigbo Foundation in 2005 to perpetuate his legacy, the papers were catalogued in January 2006 by Chukwuma Azuonye, Professor of African Literature at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, who assisted the foundation in nominating them for the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Azuonye's preliminary studies of the papers indicate that, apart from new poems in English, including drafts of an Anthem for Biafra, Okigbo's unpublished papers include poems written in Igbo. The Igbo poems are fascinating in that they open up new vistas in the study of Okigbo's poetry, countering the views of some critics, especially the troika (Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie and Ihechukwu Madubuike) in their 1980 Towards the Decolonization of African Literature, that he sacrificed his indigenous African sensibility in pursuit of an obscure euro-modernism.
"Elegy for Alto", the final poem in Path of Thunder, is today widely read as the poet's "last testament" embodying a prophecy of his own death as a sacrificial lamb for human freedom:
A concordance to the poems of Christopher Okigbo; with the complete text of the poems, 1957-1967.(Brief article)(Book review)
Nov 01, 2008; 9780773450820 A concordance to the poems of Christopher Okigbo; with the complete text of the poems, 1957-1967. Ed. by Michael J....