|Biography||Summa cum laude and best graduate
of all time of the University of Nigeria, I received my Bachelors
in Fine and Applied Arts in
1986 after a brief suspension from university for activities as
Secretary-General of the University of Nigeria Students Union, 1983-1985.
(I quit graduate school, too, before I was officially kicked out. But that
was later.) Upon graduation I received 5 awards for academic excellence
including the Nigerian National Council for Arts
and Culture Prize and the Indira Gandhi Memorial
Prize. I had previously received the Nigerian
National Merit Award for High Academic Standing for 4 consecutive
years, as well as 4 awards of merit for my services to the University of
Nigeria Students Union. I also received the Pro-Chancellor's
special mention for best academic performance of all time. As president
of the Class of '86, however, I did not get to plant the tree for the class.
That was much too much for the university, so, they let the guy from the
previous year plant my class tree. I gave the valedictory speech before
After national service during which I also taught art in the Ogun State College of Education, Abeokuta, I enrolled for a combined Masters/Doctoral program at the University of Nigeria with a concentration in Art History. After two years I quit the university and shortly after was awarded a Potential Leaders' Scholarship of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to pursue the PhD in Contemporary and African Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. I did my research on the British-Nigerian artist, Uzo Egonu.
I enrolled at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 1989 and in 1992 I was awarded the PhD of the University of London. The dissertation has been severally cited and was published under the title, Uzo Egonu: An African Artist in the West by Kala Press of London in 1995. The book has been described by Professor Emeritus Simon Ottenberg of the University of Washington, Seattle as "the most sophisticated and instensive full-length analysis of a modern African visual artist", and by Professor Obiora Udechukwu of the University of Nigeria as "a major benchmark in the criticism of modern African art." See Publications.
I have taught at several colleges and universities including SOAS, where I taught African Literature, and Goldsmiths College, University of London, where I taught Critical Theory in the Visual Arts. I have also given guest lectures at numerous other institutions including the Universities of Augsburg, Bayreuth, Oxford, Manchester and Edinburgh, as well as Howard University and the Sydney Institute of Technology. I currently teach Art History including African and African-American Art at the University of South Florida, Tampa.
I also co-edit Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art in New York, as well as the New York popular culture magazine, aRude. Nka is co-published with the Africana Studies Center of Cornell University and with the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation.
I have published poetry since 14 when I won my first international runner-up prize in the World Animal Rights Day poetry competition. To date I have published 3 books of poetry. My second book of poems, A Gathering Fear, which is also my first collection, won the 1992 Christopher Okigbo All-Africa Prize for Literature. In 1993 it received honorary mention in the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. It has been published in 2 editions. My first book of poems, A Song from Exile has reappeared in two international anthologies and has been translated into Spanish and Catalan. I have also published poetry in numerous journals and other media including Poetry Wales, Wasafiri, and West Africa magazine. See Poetry.
I have practised as an artist for several years and have had one-person exhibitions in Nigeria, Britain, Germany and Australia since 1988. I worked as a painter for several years but concentrate on installation art presently. See Exhibitions.
I have also written art and cultural criticism for numerous organs in Africa, Europe, America and Australia since 1987. See Publications.
On the very personal side, I was born under the Libra sign on Wednesday, October 14, 1964 in Aba, Nigeria. I have seven younger sisters. I keep no pets.
I enjoy chess, mathematics and reading. I read mostly poetry, classics, and essays, though I would read almost anything. My favorite authors are Chinua Achebe, James Baldwin, Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Naguib Mahfouz, Alex La Guma, Federico Garcia Lorca, Walt Whitman, Christopher Okigbo and Mahmoud Darwish. I also enjoy June Jordan, Carl Sandburg, Salvador Espriu, and Octavio Paz.
|My music taste||is very eclectic and ranges from Sir
Warrior to Yothu Yindi. My favorites are:
Then, I would listen to just about anything except European
classical music. Well, I do like Tchaikovsky and Nigel Kennedy.