Ukamaka Olisakwe

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Ukamaka Olisakwe
Born (1982-10-24) 24 October 1982 (age 36)
Kano State, Northern Nigeria
OccupationNovelist, short story writer,screen writer

Ukamaka Evelyn Olisakwe (born 24 October 1982) is a Nigerian feminist author, short-story writer, and screenwriter. In 2014 she was chosen as one of 39 of Sub-Saharan Africa's most promising writers under the age of 40, showcased in the Africa39 project[1] and included in the anthology Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara (edited by Ellah Allfrey).[2][3][4]

Personal life and education[edit]

Ukamaka Evelyn Olisakwe was born and raised in Kano State, Northern Nigeria.[5] Her parents are from Eastern Nigeria. She completed her secondary education in Northern Nigeria and subsequently earned a degree in Computer Science from Abia State Polytechnic, in Aba, Nigeria.[6]

She is married to George Nwanosike Olisakwe and they live in Eastern Nigeria with their three children.

Writing career[edit]

Olisakwe's debut novel, Eyes of a Goddess, was published in 2012.

She has written numerous short stories and articles, most of which have appeared in blogs and online journals, including, Saraba, Sentinel Nigeria and Short Story Day Africa. She has been featured in the BBC. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times and various magazines including the Nigerian Telegraph and African Hadithi.[7] She wrote the screenplay for The Calabash,[8] a television series produced and directed by Obi Emelonye and premiered in January 2015 on Africa Magic Showcase.[9] Olisakwe administers the blog for the "Writivism Mentorship Programme", a project of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, and was a co-facilitator at the Lagos Workshop.[10] She was a guest and panel member at the 2014 Ake Arts and Books Festival[11][12] and the Hay Festival.[13] She was also a delegate at the 8th Pan African Congress, which was held in Ghana.

Olisakwe was selected as one of the 39 most promising writers under the age of 40 from Sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora, in the Africa39 project[14] – a Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club initiative in celebration of the UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 – and is included in the anthology Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara (edited by Ellah Allfrey). Olisakwe's contribution, "This Is How I Remember it", was described by one reviewer as "a clear-eyed account of a girl's romantic awakening in Nigeria" and a story "so good it leaves us wanting more",[15] while another reviewer described it as a "gripping story about adolescent romance, deception and yearning".[16]

In 2016, Olisakwe was a resident at the University of Iowa's International Writing Program.[6]


Olisakwe was a guest at the 2015 Writivism Festival in Kampala, Uganda, where she taught a fiction master-class.[17] On 28 May 2015, she spoke on how "You Could Stop The Next Maternal Death Statistic" at TEDxGarki.[18]


  • 2014: Listed among Africa39 project of 39 writers aged under 40.
  • 2014: Listed among This Is Africa's "Best 100 Books 2010–2014" for Eyes of a Goddess.[19]

Selected writing[edit]


  • — (2012). Eyes of a Goddess. Piraeus Books. ISBN 9780985203818.

Short stories[edit]

  • — (May 2011). "Girl to Woman". Sentinel Nigeria.
  • Ukamaka Olisakwe (October 2014). "This is how I remember it". Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara.



  1. ^ Margaret Busby, "Africa39: How we chose the writers for Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014", The Guardian, 10 April 2014.
  2. ^ Africa39 "list of artists", Hay Festival.
  3. ^ "Africa39 list of promising writers revealed", The Bookseller, 8 April 2014.
  4. ^ Africa39 Authors Biographies,
  5. ^ Ukamaka Olisakwe (1 December 2014). "Growing Up Fearful in Nigeria". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b Mikael Mulugeta (1 November 2016). "'I was able to be the main subject of my writing': Ukamaka Olisakwe on becoming a writer, the new generation of female Nigerian authors". Iowa Now. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  7. ^ Allfrey, Ellah Wakatama, ed. (2014). Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara. Bloomsbury. pp. PT512. ISBN 978-1-62040-780-6.
  8. ^ Akinseye, Isabella (14 January 2015). "Spotlight on Ukamaka Olisakwe". DStv. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Exciting January for Africa Magic Viewers!" Africa Magic, 14 January 2015.
  10. ^ Richards, Oludare (7 January 2015). "Nigeria: Writivism to Engage Readers and Writers in 2015". The Guardian.
  11. ^ "Soyinka, Obasanjo, Amaechi, others for Ake Festival". Nigerian Tribune. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Ukamaka Olisakwe". Ake Arts & Book Festival. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Ukamaka Olisakwe". Hay Festival 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  14. ^ Abodunrin, Akintayo (13 April 2014). "Africa39 Writers Unveiled at London Book Fair". Nigerian Tribune.
  15. ^ Forbes, Malcolm (23 October 2014). "Continental drift: Africa39, an anthology of writing from south of the Sahara, is too good to miss". The National.
  16. ^ Walia, Shelley (4 March 2015). "Creativity and dissidence". The Hindu.
  17. ^
  18. ^ "You could stop the next maternal death statistic | Ukamaka Olisakwe | TEDxGarki". YouTube
  19. ^ "The TIA 100 – Best Books, 2010-2014", This Is Africa, 24 December 2014.