Born of Ora parentage in today’s Edo State, Francis Abiola Irele was, until recently Visiting Professor of African and African American Studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. Prof. Abiola Irele died as Provost of Kwara State University, Ilorin
A graduate of University of Ibadan (1960) and the University of Paris Sorbonne (1966) Irele, at various times, lectured at the University of Ghana, University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and the University of Ibadan, Ohio State University specializing in African, French and Comparative Literature.
He was honoured with the Nigerian National Order of Merit for his outstanding work in the humanities.
His major publications include:
- The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2001)
- The African Experience in Literature and Ideology (Indiana University Press, reprint 1990)
- (with Simon Gikandi) The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
- “Négritude: Literature and ideology” in The African Philosophy Reader
- What is Africa to me?: Africa in the Black Diaspora Imagination (Distinguished Lecture at Ohio State University, 30/10/02