SIX NIGERIAN WRITERS THAT DID NOT STUDY ENGLISH OR CREATIVE WRITING
By Eniola Olatunji
From Chinua Achebe to Femi Osofisan, Sefi Atta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Buchi Emecheta, many successful Nigerian authors have degrees in English, Literature, or other writing courses. One would assume that to excel as a writer, a degree in English is a prerequisite. This is not the case. Several flourishing Nigerian writers have no degree in English.
Below is a list of six Nigerian writers that did not study English, Literature, or Creative Writing.
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Born in 1976, Adaobi is an Enugu indigene whose debut novel, “I Do Not Come To You By Chance”, won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Africa). It was named by The Washington Post as one of the Best Books of 2009. Another novel of hers, “Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree”, won the 2018 Raven Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment. It was named one of the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults.
Adaobi Tricia studied Psychology at the University of Ibadan.
Adaobi Tricia Ubani
Elnathan John is a novelist, satirist, and lawyer. His column appears in the Sunday Trust Newspaper weekly.
John’s first novel, “Born on a Tuesday”, won a Betty Trask Award. It has been translated into German and French and won the 2019 Le Prix Littéraire Les Afriques. His short stories, “Bayan Layi” and “Flying”, were also shortlisted for the Caine Prize. He also won the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2018 and is a 2019 recipient of the Berlin Senate grant for non-German literature.
Onuzo was born in 1991 and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the author of “The Spider King’s Daughter”, which won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and Dylan Thomas Prize. It was also longlisted for the Etisalat Prize for Literature and the Desmond Elliot Prize.
Onuzo has a first-class bachelor’s degree in history from King’s College London and a Master’s in Public Policy from University College London.
Dr. Wale is the author of “Tenants of the House”, a novel that won the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature. He is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors. He studied medicine at the Obafemi Awolowo University. He also served as a member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives for four years (2003-2007).
Her prominent work is “The Son of the House” which won the SprinNG women authors prize, the Nigeria Prize for Literature, and was nominated for the Giller Prize in 2021. She is the winner of the best international fiction book at the 2019 Sharjah International Book Fair. Onyemelukwe studied law at the University of Nigeria and is currently a Professor of Law at Babcock University specializing in health law.
Abubakar Gimba (1952-2015)
His works include “Trail of Sacrifice”, “Witnesses to Tears: a novel”, “Sunset for a Mandarin”, etc. Gimba was an administrator, an economist, and one of the foremost writers from Northern Nigeria. Among other roles, he served as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance between 1984 and 1987. He is the first person from Northern Nigeria to be a vice president and later president of the Association of Nigerian Authors.
A degree in English and other related fields is a good thing but is certainly not required to be a writer. Don’t let anything stop you. Just write, the world is waiting to read your work.
Panafrican Writers Association
Eniola Olatunji is a law
student at the University
of Ibadan. He enjoys
researching into new
areas of life, reading
comics and writing plays.