She made history in Nigeria in 1996 with a mega-book launch of 17 books written in 8 months at the age of 17 years, easily making her one of the youngest most prolific authors that Nigeria and perhaps, the continent of Africa, has ever produced. Today we take a walk back in history to remember – Adaeze Atuegwu – Nigeria’s youngest most prolific author with the greatest number of published books at under 18 years of age.
Atuegwu was a 17-year-old writer (born 1977) who gained national prominence as Nigeria’s youngest and most prolific writer with a 17-book launch, press coverages, newspaper interviews, radio interviews, and TV appearances that spanned a few years. During those days of no internet and no social media, she frequently graced the front covers of many local and national newspapers and magazines and was a household name.
Even if you didn’t know that name “Adaeze Atuegwu” in mid-late 90s and 2000s, you may have come across some of her books or know at least of someone who has read her books. If you were around then, you may recollect the slogan “17 books at 17” for the book launch that took place on May 31, 1996, in Enugu, Enugu State, the city where she grew up, attending University Primary School and University Secondary School, Enugu.
Atuegwu’s books were so loved and widely read that they collectively sold tens of millions of copies, making her one of Nigeria’s and Africa’s youngest best-selling authors. Her books were subsequently adopted by many schools as reading and exam materials especially in private primary and secondary schools in Nigeria. Some of her books went on to become part of the required reading for junior (West African Examinations Council) WAEC.
Atuegwu’s two popular children’s series, The Bina Series (5 books) and the Lizzy Series (6 books) as well as her young adult fiction books Fate, Tears, Chalet 9, My Husband’s Mistress, The Magic Leaf and The Adventures of Nnanna were well-read by kids and youth in Nigeria and beyond. These books inspired so many popular cultures including a haircut “Bina haircut” aptly named after her Bina Series. Atuegwu recently returned to the writing scene via social media, and her loving fans have not spared any love in welcoming her back so many years after her legendary books were published.
Her first book, Fate was published in 1994 by the popular Fourth Dimension Publishers who also published iconic Chinua Achebe’s books. The rest of Atuegwu’s books were subsequently published by B-Teks Publishing and Cika Publishers.
Atuegwu, whose fans have been very nostalgic over the images of these beloved books she recently shared on social media, has since grown up but also remained true to her writing talent. Her official website, adaezea.com gives us a snippet of what she has been up to these past years including completing a graduate degree in Creative Writing from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, USA, as well as many other academic and writing accolades.
According to many of Atuegwu’s fans on Facebook and Instagram, her books made a big and positive impact on them growing up. A lot of her fans also commented that her books not only taught them how to read, but also made their childhood memorable while teaching valuable morals and lessons. They are rightly excited to see one of their favorite childhood authors resurface and have not spared their love for her. Back in 1994-1996 when Vanguard and the rest of the Nigerian media world first covered the novelty news about the child prodigy and her book launch, she had also made a big impression on us due to her extraordinary creative writing talent.
Adaeze Atuegwu was the Rotary International Club recipient of the Award for Creativity (1994), Award for Fostering Child Development (1995), and Award for Excellence in Writing (1996). Adaeze was also a winner of a 1993 World Health Day essay contest. She also received an Award for Creativity from Rotaract International in 1996. Atuegwu presented her books to many states, local and international organizations, including embassies like the American and British consulates in Nigeria. She made special guest appearances on several news and radio channels including Nigerian Television Network (NTA).
According to Atuegwu on her Instagram and Facebook pages under her first and last name, she never stopped writing and is currently working on bringing her popular books back in print and eBook format. Adaeze Atuegwu has since grown up, and her readers have also grown up and are certainly full of nostalgia for her beloved books. Interestingly, many of her fans are now parents who want these books for their children although some want to reread the books just to relive those good old times.
Atuegwu is a legendary young African writer as well as one of Nigeria’s youngest most prolific and best-selling authors given her age at publication and the collective amounts of books she sold even as a child. Incidentally, Atuegwu is one of the few African writers to write a collection of connected children’s and young adult series years before writing in series became a form of art in African literature.
Atuegwu’s immeasurable contribution to impacting good morals on children, childhood education, and general childhood literacy in Nigeria and beyond, make her iconic. Her beloved books which created memories for millions of young readers all over the country and beyond, formed a solid foundation for early childhood education for so many young ones. Today, we remember and applaud Adaeze Atuegwu for her priceless contribution to Nigerian and African literature, especially for children and young adult readers!