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Oliver Enwonwu is the son of the late Nigerian painter and sculptor Ben Enwonwu.

Unlike his father, Oliver did not go on to study art at first but rather chose to delve into the sciences and obtained a degree from the University of Lagos in Biochemistry, a post graduate diploma in applied Geophysics and a masters in Art History. However, whilst growing up, Oliver was encouraged by his father to explore his artistic side through drawing and painting.

Watch an interview with Oliver Enwonwu.

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists

Works by Onitsha-born Nigerian sculptor and painter Ben Enwonwu, whose body of work showcases an incredibly diverse range of art works, spanning over various mediums. Enwonwu also has a crater on the planet Mercury named after him. 

Enwonwu - his father a sculptor, his mother a cloth merchant and his son, Oliver Enwonwu also an artist in his own right - was surrounded by art in various forms growing up and all through his life. Throughout his art career, he dedicated himself to redefining the meanings and conversation surrounding ‘African art’ in the global art world and was once quoted as saying:

“Art is not static…Art changes its form with the times…African art has always, even long before western influence, continued to evolve through change and adapt to new circumstances.”

After first studying art at government colleges in Nigeria, and temporary relocating to England to further his studies at Goldsmiths University and Oxford University, Enwonwu returned to Nigeria in 1939 were he began to teach art at schools in Umuahia and Benin City. In 1948, he became an art adviser to the Nigerian government but left the country again in 1950 to tour and lecture in the United States where carried on working as a freelance artist.

In 1966, Enwonwu became editor of Nigeria Magazine and was also a fellow of Lagos University between 1966–68. He once again worked for the Nigerian government, this time post-independence, as a cultural advisor between 1968–71. He was appointed the first professor of Fine Arts at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, from 1971 to 1975, and was also an art consultant to the International Secretariat, Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), Lagos, 1977.

Enwonwu is also well-known for his illustration of the cover of noted Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola’s novel The Brave African Huntress.

A pioneering force in the rhetoric surrounding the early Modern African Art movement of the 20th century, Enwonwu passed away in 1994. His work is displayed in the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos and can also be viewed at the Virtual Museum of Modern Nigerian Art.

October: Highlighting African Art & African Artists


A veteran of the Biafra War showing his medals. 1982.
Vintage Nigeria

WOMEN’S MONTH RECOMMENDED READING: “The Concubine” by Elechi Amadi

Nigerian writer Eledi Amadi’s tragic love story centered around the life of Ihuoma, a beautiful woman whose ill-fated bouts with romance are enough to shatter any and all notions of true love and kill the human spirit seven times over.

It’s a beautifully written book that moulds itself into a classic bittersweet tale of misfortune and vulnerability, and I highly recommend it.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

And so, it is here.

Screening at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival in September, the official trailer for the adaptation of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of A Yellow Sun, centering on personal experiences of love - love between two people and love of a people (in this case through the secessionist Igbo movement of Biafra that resulted in a terrible civil war in Nigeria) has been released. 

In the near-3 minute clip, the only person who seems to sufficiently fulfill his role and show any signs of promise in the film is British-Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who seems to be carrying the weight of the film on his shoulders.

The last time Ejiofor played a Nigerian was the 2002 film Dirty Pretty Things where he won a British Independent Film Award for best actor for playing Okwe - a Nigerian immigrant to the UK who had fled his home country as a result of being falsely accused of a crime.

The moon has
ascended between us,
Between two pines
That bow to each other;

Love with the moon has ascended,
Has fed on our solitary stems;

And we are now shadows
That cling to each other,
But kiss the air only.

Love Apart, a poem by Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo.

Born in 1952 in the Southeastern Nigerian town of Ojoto in Anambra State, Christohper Okigbo is one of the most highly regarded post-colonial English-language poets both in Nigeria and throughout Africa.

Okigbo, who later relocated to Ibadan in the early 60s, moved back to eastern Nigeria following the secession of Biafra and volunteered in the newly formed state’s military. He was killed in 1967 whilst fighting for the Biafran army, defending the town of Nsukka against the Nigerian government forces.


Cross River Ibo. Nkporo tribe. ‘Isiji masquerade. photo taken by Dr.G.I.Jones, 1931
Vintage Nigerian photos

Chimamanda Adichie pens an elegy to Chinua Achebe in Igbo

Ife mee,
Nnukwu ife mee,
Chinua Achebe anabago,
Onye edemede nke di,
Egwu, onye nnukwu uche, onye obi oma,
Keduzi onye anyi ga-eji eme onu?
Keduzi onye anyi ga-eji jee mba?
Keduzi onye ga-akwado anyi?
Ebenebe egbu o!
Anya mmili julu m anya,
Chinua Achebe, naba no ndokwa,
O ga-adili gi mma,
Naba na ndokwa.

English translation by Adaure Achumba

Something has happened
Something big/grave has happened,
Chinua Achebe is gone.
A great writer, a man of great wisdom, a man with a good heart.
Who shall we brag about?
Who are we going to tell the world about/take to other lands?
Who will guide us?
A storm has passed/a catastrophe has happened.
Tears fill my eyes.
Chinua Achebe rest in peace,
It shall be well with you.
Rest in peace.

This piece was published on Adaura Achumba’s website.

“The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

“If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own.”

“Nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe parts of me, but who I am - and what I need - is something I have to find out myself.”

“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own.The Igbo, always practical, put it concretely in their proverb Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya: “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.”

"When a tradition gathers enough strength to go on for centuries, you don’t just turn it off one day."

"When the British came to Igbo land, for instance, at the beginning of the 20th century, and defeated the men in pitched battles in different places, and set up their administrations, the men surrendered. And it was the women who led the first revolt."

"When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool."

“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”

“It is the storyteller who makes us what we are, who creates history. The storyteller creates the memory that the survivors must have - otherwise their surviving would have no meaning.”

“I would be quite satisfied if my novels (especially the ones I set in the past) did no more than teach my readers that their past - with all its imperfections - was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them”

“That we are surrounded by deep mysteries is known to all but the incurably ignorant.”

RIP Chinua Achebe.


Canoe of King Jaja of Opobo [Nigeria]. Unknown photographer. 1882.



Igbo Arts at UCLAHerbert M. Cole. African Arts, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Nov., 1984), pp. 64-69.

Poster against the General Odumegwu Ojukwu, leader of the Igbos.

Lagos, Nigeria.


It has often been said that my generation was a very lucky one. And I agree. My luck was actually quite extraordinary. And it began quite early.

The pace of change in Nigeria from the 1940s was incredible. I am not just talking about the rate of development, with villages transforming into towns, or the coming of modern comforts, such as electricity or running water or modes of transportation, but more of a sense that we were standing figuratively and literally at the dawn of a new era.

My generation was summoned, as it were, to bear witness to two remarkable transitions—the first the aforementioned impressive economic, social, and political transformation of Nigeria into a midrange country, at least by third world standards. But, more profoundly, barely two decades later we were thrust into the throes of perhaps Nigeria’s greatest twentieth-century moment—our elevation from a colonized country to an independent nation.

An excerpt from Nigerian award-winning author Chinua Achebe's long-awaited soon to be released memoir, There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra.

Read more.