Saturday, November 7, 2009

This is for the Bookaholic Scholars...

Warning: Not the regular fun stuff but you can learn one or two things about Tess Onwueme, foremost Nigerian dramatist. Not too bad if you are just learning about her; dig in!

Theme: Osonye Tess Onwueme: Staging Women, Youth, Globalization, and Eco-literature

Venue: University of Abuja , Abuja , FCT, Nigeria(November 11 – 14, 2009)

A Little Background: Osonye Tess Onwueme, Distinguished Professor of Cultural Diversity and English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, is currently, one of the best known and most prolific women playwrights of African descent .  She is a winner of several international awards, including a Ford Foundation research award.  She was recently appointed to the US State Department Public Diplomacy Specialist/Speaker Program for North, West, and East India. Onwueme has been compared to Nigerian dramatist Zulu Sofola, Femi Osofisan, and Wole Soyinka in her use of Nigerian performance structures and commitment to exploring the socio-political issues that affect the lives of the struggling masses, women, and youths in the global community today.

In over two decades,  Osonye Tess Onwueme has published over fifteen works including such influential plays  as What Mama Said (2003), Tell It to Women (1997), The Missing Face (2002) and Riot in Heaven (2006), Shakara (2006) to mention a few that have received international performances.  According to Ngugi wa Thiongo, Onwueme is “eminently a political dramatist . . . .  Her drama and theatre are a feast of music, dance, mime, proverbs, and story-telling.” Tanure Ojaide observes that she is the “most prolific and outstanding female dramatist of the new generation of African writers.”

As a writer who defines herself as pan-Africanist, Onwueme often creates plays which challenge her audiences and readers to critically investigate issues often neglected in the dramas of so many of her peers and predecessors. As Nina Adams asserts, “Through the voices of women, in Shakara and her other plays, Onwueme draws out universal themes of conflict––between rich and poor, modern and traditional–– and the conflict of the inner-self is a recurring motif” (BBC On Air, The BBC's World Service International Magazine, Sept. 2004).

The conference focuses on Tess Onwueme as a  playwright, scholar, activist, and producer whose works explore a wide range of social, political, historical, cultural and environmental concerns of Nigerians, specifically, women, youth, and people of the Niger Delta, as well as Africans on the continent and in the African diaspora.

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