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BREAKING: Popular Nigerian playwright, Prof. Sam Ukala is dead



Popular Nigerian playwright and academic, Prof. Sam Ukala, who propounded the theory of ‘folkism’, is dead. (TNG) reports Prof. Ukala died on Monday night at the age of 73.

Ukala, who hails from Owa Kingdom in Ika subtribe of Anioma Nation in Delta State, was a Professor of Theatre Arts and Drama at Delta State University, Abraka, until his recent retirement.

Ukala was a poet, short story writer, actor, theatre director and film producer.

Ukala has also been Professor of Drama and Theatre Arts at a number of Nigerian universities, including Edo State University.

In 1993/94, as an academic staff fellow, he also researched and taught at the School of English Workshop Theatre of the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

As an academic, he propounded the theory of ‘folkism’, the tendency to base literary plays on indigenous history and culture and to compose and perform them in accordance with the aesthetics of African folktale composition and performance.

He was also Chairman of the Delta State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).


Ukala’s published plays include The Slave Wife, The Log in Your Eye, Akpakaland (winner of the 1989 ANA/British Council Prize for Drama), and Break a Boil.

His Iredi War, a ‘folk-script’ that won the 2014 Nigeria prize for Literature, is based on the 1906 uprising of the Owa Kingdom (now part of Delta State) against oppressive British rule.


As in previous pieces, he utilises and brings new life to oral literature and folk-based theatre forms.

Ukala has also worked with the British theatre Horse and Bamboo Theatre in 1999 and with Bob Frith wrote the visual theatre piece Harvest of Ghosts, which toured the UK and the Netherlands.

This was an experimental piece for Ukala, which relied on dance, music, and powerful visuals rather than the spoken word.

TNG reports the immediate cause of Ukala’s death was yet to be ascertained at the time of filing this report.

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