The Passing of Professor Frank Ukadike

Lorna Zukas's picture

Professor N. Frank Ukadike, Dept. of Communication, Tulane University passed away in August 2018, his memorial service was September 7, 2018.

For Frank Ukadike,

By Victoria Pasley, Ph.D.


I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of African Cinema Studies Film Scholar Frank Ukadike. I did not know him well but had the pleasure of meeting him on at least two occasions as well as listening to him present.  He was always approachable, warm, and eager to share his knowledge. His work was particularly important to me as I began focusing my research on African Cinema in the 90s. His pioneering work African Black Cinema (1994) was published two years after Manthia Diawara’s African Cinema Politics and Culture, and these two books became the essential texts for not only myself but for subsequent scholars of African Cinema. It was equally important to have two scholarly texts published by African scholars bringing in new perspectives.


But what inspired me the most were his wonderful interviews with African Directors which he published in 2002 in a collection Questioning African Cinema: Conversations with African Filmmakers Edition. These are rare conversations with twenty of the most influential African Film makers; I have referred to these conversations over and over again for my work on African Cinema. They are a rich and valuable source for all interested in African Film and cultural production. 


The book includes a marvelous interview with one of the greatest and most creative African filmmakers, Senegal’s Djibril Diop Mambety, who sadly passed away in 1998. The article had first been published in Transitions in 1999 under the title the Hyena’s Last Laugh. On Mambety, Frank stated, “With his death, Africa has lost a highly talented and creative filmmaker, a rare artist of exceptional insight and perception. The legions of us who admired Djibril Diop Mambety for his humor, vision, creativity, and devotion to African cinema--and those of us who were blessed to know him as a friend, a man of great vitality--will miss him, even as we continue to celebrate his life.” We will miss Frank too and will continue to celebrate his life and work. And I am sure Mambety is waiting there to meet him on his final journey where the two perhaps will share a last laugh.

Categories: Obituary
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