Tanure Ojaide, Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Africana Studies at UNC Charlotte, has received a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship from the Institute of International Education to share his expertise with students and faculty in Africa.
Ojaide will be in residence for three months at the University of Abuja in Nigeria, once COVID-19 restrictions permit. He will collaborate on research with graduate students and faculty members, especially in oral and written African literatures. He also will assist the University of Abuja in strengthening its programs in these areas.
“It is my aim to be on the ground and make meaningful contributions by influencing the curriculum, doing some research collaboration but above all mentoring and teaching the graduate students toward elevating standards to those in the United States and major academies in the world,” Ojaide said.
UNC Charlotte students will benefit from his experiences in Africa.
“In a global world, I am not only using the experiences I have gained at UNC Charlotte the past 30 years in a new environment,” he said. “But my experience in an African university will strengthen me as a higher education professor who can apply what I gain from Africa to better understand the multicultural and international aspects of the university.”
Ojaide has been described as one of the leading African writers today and as the most prolific and most decorated faculty poet in the UNC System. Ojaide has won more than a dozen book prizes and accolades, including the 2018 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Cadbury Poetry Prize and the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Award.
In 2016, he was decorated with Nigeria’s highest academic honor, the Nigerian National Order of Merit, and received the African Literature Association’s Fonlon-Nichols Award. He received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to collect and study the Udje dance songs of the Urhobo people.
He also earned UNC Charlotte’s First Citizens Bank Scholar Medal Award in 2005 and was named the Frank Porter Graham Professor of Africana Studies in 2006. He has received two Fulbright fellowships. Ojaide joined the UNC Charlotte faculty in 1990 after teaching at the University of Maiduguri in Nigeria.
Offered in collaboration with the United States International University-Africa, the fellowships are funded by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Since the program’s inception in 2013, 471 African Diaspora Fellowships have been awarded for scholars to travel to Africa.