UNC Charlotte scholar Tanure Ojaide has been named this year’s recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) in the humanities category. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will preside over an investiture ceremony on Dec. 1 in Abuja, the country’s capital.
Established in 1979, the Nigerian National Order of Merit is the highest academic honor in Africa’s most populous country. The award is conferred annually on the most deserving scholar and intellectual who has made outstanding and ethical contributions to national and global attainments in one of these areas of scholarly endeavor: humanities, sciences, engineering and medicine. Previous recipients of the award include Professor Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature.
The Nigerian National Order of Merit comes with a substantial cash prize, a medal and certificate of honor and the right to use NNOM after the name of the recipient.
Ojaide, the Frank Porter Graham Professor of Africana Studies, is a prolific writer of more than 30 works, including poetry collections, memoirs, collections of short stories, novels and scholarly books. His poems have been included in dozens of major anthologies. A two-time Fulbright Scholar, for the years 2002-03 and 2013-14, he was the recipient of the 1999-2000 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.
Ojaide has received more than a dozen book prizes and accolades, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Cadbury Poetry Prize and the Association of Nigerian Authors' Poetry Award. He was awarded UNC Charlotte’s First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal in 2006. This honor recognizes outstanding scholarship, creativity and/or research among senior full-time faculty members.
Most recently, he received the African Literature Association’s Fonlon-Nichols Award in early 2016 in recognition of his scholarly contributions to democratic ideals, humanistic values and literary excellence in Africa.
Educated at the University of Ibadan, where he received a bachelor’s degree in English, and at Syracuse University, where he received a master’s degree in creative writing and a doctoral degree in English, Ojaide has areas of scholarly interests that span across African/black literatures, world and Postcolonial literatures, creative writing (poetry) and oral poetic performance of Africa and the African diaspora.