Original Author: Claire Moses
The family of a British poet who disappeared last weekend from a music festival in England was in mourning after a body was found following a nearly weeklong search that drew national headlines and intense interest on social media.
The poet, Gboyega Odubanjo, 27, was last seen at the Shambala music festival in Kelmarsh, England, about 85 miles north of London, around 4 a.m. on Saturday. Mr. Odubanjo had been scheduled to perform at the festival on Sunday.
The search ended on Thursday morning, when the Northamptonshire Police said they had found a man’s body, which they did not publicly identify.
The police said that the man’s family had been informed and that there did not appear to be suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.
In a statement shared with The New York Times by a close friend of Mr. Odubanjo’s, Tice Cin, his family remembered him warmly and said his disappearance had been “entirely out of character.”
“He is a warm and infectious personality, a contagious smile, and a heart full of kindness,” the family’s statement said. “When his sister’s twins were born, he took it upon himself to move in and support his sister and husband with their young family.”
Echoing criticism on social media of the search for Mr. Odubanjo, the family’s statement also said, “We believe that if he had received adequate care, he would still be alive.”
In a statement, the Northamptonshire Police said that, “Searching open terrain and water requires specialist skills to locate a missing person and to secure and preserve evidence. Unofficial searches carry a risk to both those searching, and to the investigation.”
The disappearance and death remain an active investigation, the police said. The organizers of the Shambala Festival, which describes itself as “anti-corporate, independent and environmentally pioneering,” said they were “devastated by this situation” but otherwise declined to comment while awaiting the coroner’s report on the cause of death.
Mr. Odubanjo, who was born and raised in London, was considered a rising star in the city’s poetry scene. He was the author of “While I Yet Live” and the prizewinning collection “Aunty Uncle Poems,” and served as the editor of bath magg, an online poetry magazine. He worked as an editor at Bad Betty Press and was studying for a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Hertfordshire.
His disappearance prompted an outpouring of support from Britain’s poetry community.
“Our light switch in a dark room,” Kareem Parkins-Brown, a London-based poet, said of Mr. Odubanjo. “He was the voice for the joys of London life. Our city’s Frank O’Hara.”
“In the literary world I have often felt misunderstood and eager to explain myself, but I always felt you got me,” the poet Raymond Antrobus said in a message. “So many of us who knew your brilliance and were waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.”
“He just had this air of wisdom about him,” Ms. Cin, Mr. Odubanjo’s friend, said. “He could go anywhere in the world and people would look to him for advice.”
Mr. Odubanjo had been scheduled to appear at the Barbican Centre in London this month as part of 05fest, a festival put on by the poet Inua Ellams.
But Mr. Odubanjo had big ambitions outside of his native Britain. “He wanted to tell stories across the whole world,” Ms. Cin said, but he always felt a strong connection with his home city.
As Mr. Odubanjo said in one of his poems: “london is a bit of me / london is the place for me.”