Nigerian poet, essayist, journalist, and social critic, Odia Ofeimun has been announced as the 2010 winner of the Fonlon-Nichols Award. The award, administered by the African Literature Association, ALA, is given to an African writer every year for excellence in creative writing and for contributions to the struggle for human rights and freedom of expression, according to Dr. Oty Agbajoh-Laoye, chair of the ALA award committee.
Mr. Ofeimun is the author of eight collections of poems and numerous essays on political analysis and cultural criticism. His most recent volumes include Go Tell the Generals, A Boiling Caracas and Other Poems, and I Will Ask Questions With Stones If They Take My Voice, and Lagos of the Poets, a poetry anthology. In 2008, Los NinÃµs del Estero, a selection of his poems, was published in a Spanish translation in Mexico.
Ofeimun was born on March 16, 1950. He published his first book of poems, the critically acclaimed The Poet Lied, at the age of 25. His career began as a journalist and literary correspondent with The Midwest Echo, a newspaper based in Benin, capital of present_day Edo State , in Nigeria.
He has also had experiences as a factory worker, civil servant, and union organizer. After a stint as a graduate student of Political Science at the University of Ibadan , he was appointed as the private secretary to Nigeria â€™s leading political figure and former presidential candidate, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in 1978. Following the fall of the Second Republic , Ofeimun published A Handle for the Flutist, his second poetry collection. He also became a member of the editorial board of The Guardian (Lagos).
The Fonlon-Nichols award was established in 1992 to honor Bernard Fonlon and Lee Nichols for their own contributions to both African literature and freedom of expression. Past winners include Rene Philombe, Mongo Beti, Werewere Liking, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Femi Osofisan, Nuruddin Farah, Nawal el Saadawi, Niyi Osundare, Assia Djebar, Abdellatif Laabi, Wole Soyinka, Pius Ngandu Nkashama, and Tess Onwueme. This year the award will be publicly presented at the 36th annual conference of the African Literature Association March 10-14, 2010 to be held in the University of Arizona, Tucson.