Monday, Dec. 1, 2014

UNO English Professor Wins Nigerian National Order of Merit Award

University of New Orleans English professor Niyi Osundare will receive the 2014 Nigerian National Order of Merit Award, the nation's top prize in science, medicine, engineering/technology and the humanities.University of New Orleans English professor Niyi Osundare will receive the 2014 Nigerian National Order of Merit Award, the nation's top prize in science, medicine, engineering/technology and the humanities.

University of New Orleans English professor Niyi Osundare will receive the 2014 Nigerian National Order of Merit Award, the nation's top prize in science, medicine, engineering/technology and the humanities. Osundare is a poet, dramatist and essayist and one of Nigeria's preeminent public intellectuals. He has authored 18 books of poetry, two books of selected poems, four plays, a book of essays, and numerous articles on literature, language, culture and society.

An investiture ceremony will be held in his honor, along with the Annual Forum of the Nigerian National Order of Merit Laureates, in Abuja, Nigeria on Dec. 2-3.

"Niyi Osundare's distinctive achievements in creative writing and scholarship on African literature have made him a towering figure in African letters," said Peter Schock, professor and chair of English. "We regard this great honor from the Nigerian National Order of Merit as a large step toward Dr. Osundare's eventual reception of the Nobel Prize in Literature."

Osundare first came to the University of New Orleans as an associate professor of English in 1991-92 and returned to UNO from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, as a full professor in 1997. In 2011, he was named Distinguished Professor, one of the highest forms of recognition that a UNO faculty member can receive for accomplishments in research and teaching.

Osundare is a past winner of the Tchicaya U Tam'si African Poetry Prize, Africa's highest poetry prize; the Noma Award, Africa's most prestigious book award; and the African Literature Association's Fonlon/Nichols Award for "excellence in literary creativity combined with significant contributions to human rights in Africa."

In 1999, Osundare received an honorary doctorate from the Department of Anglophone Literature at the University of Toulouse, France. Awarded only twice in the 20th century, this degree was last conferred in 1947 on the prominent British novelist W. Somerset Maugham, author of The Razor's Edge and Of Human Bondage.

"This is very flattering," Osundare said. "This prize has a rather unique feel to it because it is essentially for intellectual, professional and creative achievement. This is one award in the Nigerian recognition profile that has been kept from contamination by politics."

Osundare was educated on three continents: He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria; a master's from the University of Leeds in England; and a doctorate from York University in Toronto, Canada.

Established in 1979, the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award is conferred up on deserving Nigerians with outstanding accomplishments and contributions to national development. Former recipients include Chinua Achebe, the late author of the celebrated novel Things Fall Apart, and Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

 

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Distinguished Professor Niyi Osundare
UNO Professor Receives Nigerian National Order of Merit, The Times Picayune
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UNO Professor's Poem Broadcast at 2012 Olympics, UNO Magazine
Jonathan pledges to enthrone culture of merit, The Guardian
Jonathan honours Professor Osundare, The Nation
Jonathan Honours Niyi Osundare, PM News
Jonathan decorates Prof Osundare with 2014 Nigerian National Order of Merit Award, World Stage News