Prof. Niyi Osundare is about to deliver the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) 2022 Laureate Lecture. It is scheduled for 7th December 2022 in Abuja. The subject is, Poetry and the human voice. “It will take place as part of the annual NNOM Laureates Forum,” Osundare told the Guardian. He was the 2014 recipient of the NNMA, Nigeria’s highest honor for distinguished academic and creative achievement.

The poet, playwright, critic, essayist and media columnist is the author of over 20 books of poetry, two books of selected poems (with individual poems in over 70 journals and magazines worldwide), four plays , a book of essays and numerous monographs and articles on literature, language, culture and society. He considers his vocation as a writer and his profession as a teacher as essentially complementary.

Born March 12, 1947, in Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria, which has been described by the University of New Orleans, United States of America, as one of the most linguistically and culturally heterogeneous countries to the world, he learned early in life the complexities and challenges of diversity.

Osundare attended St. Luke’s Primary School and Amoye Secondary School, both in Ikere-Ekiti, before moving on to Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, which produced many of the nation’s finest intellectuals .

A graduate of the University of Ibadan, with a BA in English in 1972, Osundare went on to obtain an MA in English in 1974 from the University of Leeds, UK, with his thesis, Yoruba Proverbs: A Study in the Problems of Translation. After a two-year stint, beginning in 1972, as an assistant lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Ibadan, Osundare went to York University, Toronto, Canada in 1976 to undertake the program in English, which he completed in 1979, earning the Ph.D. degree, with his dissertation on Bilingual and Bicultural Aspects of Nigerian Prose Fiction.

From his humble but cultured beginnings in Ikere-Ekiti, through his cosmopolitan academic and professional engagements with the humanities in Ibadan, Leeds and York, and several other universities around the world, Osundare invaded the world of literary research as a colossus. It is therefore not surprising that knowledgeable critics have recognized the “fruitfulness” of Osundare’s scholarship, the “unique blend of intellectual acumen and moral rigor” and “the ability to stir up this dialectical space between the accommodation and resistance in a given social order”. – which generally anchor its purse.

In announcing the award, the NNOM committee noted: “The culmination of Niyi Osudare’s academic and teaching career, which began with his appointment in 1974, as an assistant lecturer at the University of Ibadan, where he became a professor in 1989, and which continued with his appointment as Professor of English at the University of New Orleans, United States in 1997, was his appointment as Professor Emeritus at the University of New Orleans.

“This is the highest professorial appointment at the University, to which only the rarest scholars, who have ‘established a truly distinguished national and international record of scholarship and creative work’, are appointed. The chairman of the English department described the appointment as “a fitting tribute to [Niyi Osundare’s] accomplishments and stature as a poet, scholar-critic and teacher.

Osundare’s areas of specialization are African Literature, African Diaspora Literature, Literary Stylistics, Sociolinguistics and Creative Writing.

In 2005, he was selected as a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), the nation’s highest academy of humanities. About his passion for teaching, he has this to say: “For me, the classroom is a vital space inhabited – no, lived – by students and teachers as partners, even collaborators, in a process of inquiry and intellectual and social exchange…. I strive to be the kind of teacher who challenges and inspires…”

For his creative works, Osundare has received numerous awards and accolades: Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Prize, Cadbury/ANA Prize, Commonwealth Poetry Prize (won twice, 1989 and 1994), the Noma Prize (Africa’s most prestigious book prize), the Tchicaya U Tam’si Prize for African Poetry and the Fonlon/Nichols Prize for “excellence in literary creativity combined with significant to human rights in Africa”.

He has had readings and performances of his works in many parts of the world, and his poems have been translated into French, Italian, Slovenian, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Korean and Serbian.

In 2016, he received an honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) from his alma mater, the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He also received honorary doctorates from the University of Toulouse-le Mirail in France and from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge New Hampshire, USA.