Nwando Achebe-Ogundimu, historian and daughter of eminent writer Chinua Achebe has been appointed a full Professor of History at Michigan State University (MSU), USA, at the age of 39, making her one of the youngest full-rank professors in the prestigious University. She was recently inducted to the rank with a few other colleagues at a colourful dinner hosted by the University President to honor the recently promoted full rank Professor at MSU.
The event was held against the backdrop of the recent publication of Prof. Achebe’s second book, The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe (Indiana University Press, 2011), a full length critical biography on the only female warrant chief and king in all of colonial Nigeria, and arguably British Africa. The writing was funded by a generous grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
According to the book’s blurb: “Nwando Achebe presents the fascinating history of an Igbo woman, Ahebi Ugbabe, who became king in colonial Nigeria. Ugbabe was exiled from Igboland, became a prostitute, traveled widely, and learned to speak many languages. She became a close companion of Nigerian Igala kings and the British officers who supported her claim to the office of headman, warrant chief, and later, king. In this unique biography, Achebe traces the roots of Ugbabe’s rise to fame and fortune. While providing critical perspectives on women, gender, sex and sexuality, and the colonial encounter, she also considers how it was possible for this woman to take on the office and responsibilities of a traditionally male role.”
Nwando Achebe received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000. She served as a Ford Foundation and Fulbright-Hays Scholar-in-Residence at The Institute of African Studies and History Department of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1996 and 1998. Her research interests involve the use of oral history in the study of women, gender, sexuality, and power in Nigeria. Her first book, Farmers, Traders, Warriors, and Kings: Female Power and Authority in Northern Igboland, 1900-1960 was published by Heinemann in 2005. She is presently working on a WHO funded grant on polio eradication in northern Nigeria.