Onyeka Nwelue

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Onyeka Nwelue
BornOnyekachukwu George Nwelue
(1988-01-31) 31 January 1988 (age 32)
Ezeoke Nsu, Imo State, Nigeria
OccupationNovelist, filmmaker, cultural entrepreneur, editor, poet
NationalityNigerian
Period2000–present
Notable awardsThe Future Awards Africa,
2009 TM ALUKO Prize for Fiction,
2009 TAHIR IBRAHIM Prize for First Book,
2000 THOMSON Short Story Prize

Onyeka Nwelue (born 31 January 1988) is a Nigerian filmmaker and author whose book, Hip-Hop is Only for Children won the Creative Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the 2015 Nigerian Writers’ Awards. He adapted his novella Island of Happiness into an Igbo-language film, Agwaetiti Obiụtọ, which won Best Feature Film by a Director at the 2018 Newark International Film Festival[1] and went on to be nominated for Best First Feature Film by a Director and the Ousmane Sembene Award for Best Film in an African Language at the 2018 Africa Movie Academy Awards. Island of Happiness was inspired by true events in Oguta.[2] Nwelue is the founder of La Cave Musik, a record label based in Paris, France.

Nwelue studied Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and earned a scholarship to study Directing at the Prague Film School in Czech Republic.

He is currently a visiting assistant professor and Visiting Fellow of African Literature and studies in the English Language Department of the Faculty of Humanities, Manipur University in Imphal, India. He was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies, Ohio University,[3] where he spent time in Athens, Ohio.

His second novel, The Beginning of Everything Colourful, was shortlisted for the ANA Prose Fiction Prize in 2018, and his collection of poetry, The Lagos Cuban Jazz Club, was shortlisted for ANA Poetry Prize in the same year.[4]

Early life[edit]

Onyeka Nwelue was born in Ezeoke Nsu in Ehime Mbano in Imo State, Nigeria, to Honourable Sam Nwelue, a politician and Knight of St. Christopher, and Lady Catherine Nwelue, a teacher and Lay Reader.

Personal life[edit]

Born into an upper-class family, he is the fourth of six children to his parents. His mother, raised in the aristocratic family of Obua Ajukwu (Ndanike), of Oguta, is cousin to Flora Nwapa, often regarded as the first African female writer to be published internationally.

His grandparents are Origbudu SBC Obiora and Ogbuefi Odiso Obiora (née Nwakuche and eldest sister to Mr Gogo Nwakuche,[5] Nwapa's second husband. His aunt, Professor Leslye Obiora, was Nigeria's former Minister of Mines and Steel.[6]

Nwelue left for Lagos when he was 16 years old to attend the Wole Soyinka Festival,[7] after which he was introduced to the Nobel Laureate. A few years later, Nwelue travelled to India for the 2nd International Writers' Festival, at the invitation of the India Cultural Association. Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka remains one of Nwelue’s fans. "He has read everything I have published," Nwelue says. He has organized private screenings[8][9] of his films for Soyinka.

Nwelue also identifies as a feminist; in an interview, after making The House of Nwapa, he said: "I made The House of Nwapa, because I am a feminist. I believe we are all equal."[10]

Career[edit]

Early in his career, Nwelue wrote for The Guardian in Nigeria, a rare opportunity given to him by Jahman Anikulapo,[11] the then Editor of Sunday edition popularly known as The Guardian on Sunday.

Nwelue is represented by literary agent Priya Doraswamy of Lotus Lane Literary Agency, based in New Jersey.[12] In 2012, Debbie Edwards of Debbie Edwards Talent Management, became his manager.[13]

The Abyssinian Boy[edit]

Nwelue began writing his first novel, The Abyssinian Boy, when he was in India. The book partly captures his experiences in India as a black man, and its publication catapulted Nwelue to international fame.[14]

The Abyssinian Boy received stellar reviews in major Nigerian and Indian newspapers such as Daily Trust ("a Greek tale")[15] and The Hindu ("the Indian ethos are original").

Burnt[edit]

Nwelue's second book is a narrative in verse[16] and has been described by British-Hungarian poet George Szirtes as "breathless". He toured 25 countries of Europe in 2014, promoting the book, which has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Igbo and Yoruba. Translated by Venezuelan writer Alberto Quero, it was published in Peru, where it had its official launch at the Cusco Book Fair in 2015.[17]

Hip-Hop is Only for Children[edit]

Nwelue worked with musicians under La Cave Musik and travelled to different countries to meet different musicians and came up with this controversial book, which details personal encounters with musicians and music promoters. It was released in January 2015 to critical acclaim. It has reportedly sold a million copies.[18]

The House of Nwapa[edit]

He released a documentary detailing the life of Flora Nwapa, Africa's first female novelist in English.[19][20] It was nominated in the Best Documentary category of the 2017 Africa Movie Academy Awards.[21]

Island of Happiness[edit]

At the end of August 2017, Nwelue announced through an article[22] that he had wrapped shoot of his new film, Island of Happiness, adapted from his yet to be released novella.[23][24]

The Beginning of Everything Colourful[edit]

After seven years of publishing The Abyssinian Boy by DADA Books, Nwelue published his new novel, The Beginning of Everything Colourful.[25]

Education and teaching[edit]

On his return from India, Nwelue was admitted into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to study Sociology and Anthropology. He went on to study Scriptwriting at the Asian School of Media Studies in Noida, India, after which he taught Film Directing at Center for Research in Art of Film & TV (CRAFT). He handled the Sandwich Class of the English Language Department of the University of Lagos while working as the editor of FilmAfrique, a primer on African film initiatives, published by the Africa Film Academy, curators of the Africa Movie Academy Awards. He was offered a scholarship to study Directing at the Prague Film School in the Czech Republic.

Later career[edit]

Since the success of his novel, Nwelue has co-written the film Namaste Naija, directed by Teco Benson and shot in Hyderabad and Lagos, produced by Lilian Bach. He also co-created a short film, The Beginning of Everything Colourful, with British actor and model Dudley O'Shaughnessy.

In early 2012, Nwelue was signed to the Pontas Agency in Spain.[26]

He founded Blues & Hills Consultancy, under which he manages La Cave Musik. Through Blues & Hills, he was featured on MTV Meets MTN with Ben Murray Bruce. Nwelue's firm organized the first ever Bayelsa Book & Craft Fair, where he served as the director. He also undertook to edit and publish FilmAfrique, a primer on African cinema, funded by the Africa Film Academy, curators of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).

In August 2016, Nwelue's documentary film on Flora Nwapa, entitled The House of Nwapa, premiered in Harare, Zimbabwe.[27][28][10][29]

Controversy[edit]

Since publishing The Abyssinian Boy in 2009, Nwelue has spent most of his time speaking at different events and festivals and forums.

After being invited to the Man Hong Kong literary festival, Nwelue was denied a visa to Hong Kong, sparking media outcry, the alleged reason being the colour of his skin. The decision was reversed and he got a visa to attend the festival.[30]

In 2017, Nwelue was brutalized by military men for trying to stop them from raping a sex worker.[31] A year later, Nwelue was arrested at the lobby of Onomo Hotel in Kigali and jailed for eight days, for allegedly "publicly insulting" Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Twitter and RwandAir.[32] Nwelue was released after the intervention of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Prior to his arrest, he was a Voluntary Lecturer at Kwetu Film Institute, founded by the filmmaker Eric Kabera.[33]

Accident[edit]

On 1 February 2018, a day after his 30th birthday,[34] Onyeka was involved in a ghastly car accident, sustaining injuries to his lower back. He was confined to a wheelchair for two months, before using a walking aid.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Onyeka Nwelue's Agwaetiti Obiụtọ: Pushing for Africa's socioeconomic and political emancipation". 16 October 2018. Archived from the original on 3 November 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  2. ^ "#LiterallyWhatsHot: What Defines Happiness in Onyeka Nwelue's "Island of Happiness?"". 18 April 2018. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  3. ^ "What Young Africans Are Writing - an Africa Crossroads event".
  4. ^ Adebisi, Yemi (7 October 2018). "ANA Releases Shortlist Of 2018 Literary Prizes". Independent. Nigeria.
  5. ^ "As Violet Odiso 'SBC' Obiora Goes Home".
  6. ^ "Leslye Obiora J.S.D." The University of Arizona.
  7. ^ "Is the next Nobel Laureate this 30 year old Nigerian maverick?".
  8. ^ "Photos | Wole Soyinka Hosts Private Screening of Onyeka Nwelue's AMAAs-Nominated Film, Agwaetiti Obiụtọ". 4 September 2018. Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Onyeka Nwelue: What Soyinka told me when I wanted to start making films". 29 October 2018. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  10. ^ a b Ibrahim, Abubakar Adam (2 October 2016). "Why I made a documentary on Flora Nwapa". Daily Trust.
  11. ^ "INTERVIEW: Why I'm Not married at 50 - Jahman Anikulapo - Premium Times Nigeria". 24 August 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Fiction-Literary Fiction". 30 April 2020.
  13. ^ Tolu (18 December 2014). "Hip-Hop Is Only For Children – Onyeka Nwelue". Information Nigeria.
  14. ^ Nnorom Azuonye (21 January 2009). "The Audacity of Wakefulness". Sentinel. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  15. ^ Amina Alhassan (8 February 2014). "No full-time writer in Nigeria - Onyeka Nwelue". dailytrust.com.ng. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  16. ^ Ebenezar Wikina (23 April 2015). "Writing Is Only for Children: My Stroll with Onyeka Nwelue". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Onyeka Nwelue: Nigerian Poetry is like Patrick Obaiagbon talking, you are fascinated by what he is saying but you do not understand what he is saying" Archived 27 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Sankofa Magazine. 18 February 2014.
  18. ^ Richards, Oludare (15 January 2015). "Nwelue on world tour with new book, Hip-Hop Is Only For Children". The Guardian. Abuja.
  19. ^ "Flora Nwapa and the house that Onyeka Nwelue built for her". Ikhide. 27 November 2016. Archived from the original on 26 January 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Onyeka Nwelue releases documentary feature 'House on Nwapa' on Youtube". Linda Ikeji's Blog. 13 January 2017. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  21. ^ "AMAA 2017: Nollywood movies top nominations [Full list] - Daily Post Nigeria". Daily Post Nigeria. 16 May 2017. Archived from the original on 21 May 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Preying From Paris: Why Oguta Will Remain The Way It Is". Olisa Blogazine. 4 September 2017. Archived from the original on 21 September 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  23. ^ "#LiterallyWhatsHot: What Defines Happiness in Onyeka Nwelue's "Island of Happiness?"". 18 April 2018. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  24. ^ "Wole Soyinka hosts Onyeka Nwelue to a private screening of his movie 'Agwaetiti Obiụtọ' in celebration of his AMAA nominations". 4 September 2018. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  25. ^ "Award-winning Nigerian Writer & Filmmaker Onyeka Nwelue Shares Pictures to Celebrate the Release of his New Novel – the Beginning of Everything Colourful". 14 June 2017. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Onyeka Nwelue: a new Nigerian literary voice in English language". Pontas. 28 June 2012.
  27. ^ Wealth Ominabo Dickson, "INTERVIEW: Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” Is Not the Great African Novel – Onyeka Nwelue" Archived 30 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Premium Times, 18 August 2016.
  28. ^ Cheta Igbokwe, "Onyeka Nwelue’s 'House of Nwapa' Documentary Film Premiers in Zimbabwe" Archived 29 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine, State Reporters, 28 August 2016.
  29. ^ Ikhide R. Ikheloa, "Flora Nwapa and the house that Onyeka Nwelue built for her" Archived 29 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Ikhide blog, 27 November 2016.
  30. ^ Nwelue, Onyeka (15 August 2010). "The wrong passport". YNaija.
  31. ^ "Military Brutality Against Nigerians: The Incident of Bonny Cantonment by Elias Ozikpu". 25 February 2017. Archived from the original on 10 September 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  32. ^ "Rwandan government reacts to assault allegation leveled against its investigation Bureau by writer, Onyeka Nwelue". 6 November 2018. Archived from the original on 17 November 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  33. ^ "An evening with Nigerian writer Onyeka Nwelue". 11 June 2018. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  34. ^ Bivan, Nathaniel (3 February 2018). "A tale of 2 Onyekas and one birthday". Daily Trust.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

www.lacavemusik.com