Dr. Osonye Tess Onwueme
Playwright   Novelist   Scholar   Cultural Activist   International Speaker   Performer


"Tess is a rare jewel in this country..." - Dr. K. Kendall, Smith College, MA.


Exalted New Post / Fonlon Nichols Prize / My Work Is Larger Than Any Female Ideology 

Guardian news (The State Of My Art)


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Literary Awards, Professional Honors, and Grants

2010: Appointed University Professor of Global Letters, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

2010: Invited writer/scholar as a “talking head” for the 13-episode Telly Award-winning PBS/Annenberg Series, Invitation to World Literature Classics (The Epic of Gilgamesh, The God of Small Things, Journey to the West, Things Fall Apart, The Odyssey, Candide, etc) with celebrated featured writers/scholars like the Tony Award-winning playwright and actor Alan Cumming, Nobel Prize-winning playwright Wole Soyinka, Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman, acclaimed authors Chinua Achebe and Arundhati Roy, composer Phillip Glass, director Tim Blake-Nelson, Kristin Chenoweth, David Damrosch, Orhan Pamuk, etc.  The PBS series which premiered in the Fall of 2010, was initiated and produced by the New York-based Seftel Productions––an award-winning documentary, feature film, commercial, and digital media. Describing the series Seftel Productions states that: “Each episode goes beneath the surface of a classic piece of literature to reveal ideas, emotions and themes that are relevant today.”

2009: Honored with the Prestigious Fonlon-Nichols Award in Literature The Award ceremony was hosted by the University of Vermont at the Sheraton Hotel, Burlington Vermont, USA, on April 17, 2009.

2009: 2009 Tess International Conference, held in honor of Dr. Tess Onwueme at the Rockview Royale Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, November 11-14, 2009. The Conference was co-hosted by Central Michigan University, USA, University of Abuja, Nigeria, and the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

2008: Phyllis Wheatley Distinguished Writers Award for Outstanding Black Writers at the Harlem Book Fair, New York.

2007: Appointed to the US State Department Public Diplomacy Specialist/Speaker Program for North, West, and East India.
in February/March 2007. The appointment took me extensively all around India to present keynote addresses, readings, and press interviews in such high profile venues as the Indian International Centre, Delhi, the Indian National School of Drama, Delhi, the J. Nehru University, the University of Calcutta, the University of Mumbai, the New Delhi University, etc.

2007: Tess Onwueme’s play, Shakara: Dance-Hall Queen was staged at Purdue University, Calumet/Lafayette in February, 2007.

2004: BBC World Service Drama adaptation and production of my award-winning play, Shakara: Dance-Hall Queen. Selected for the Play of the Week Fall 2004 Opening Season. **Repeat broadcast/performance for the Fall 2005 Play of the Week opening season.

2003: Drama Prize for the play, Then She Said It. Awarded by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).

2001: Drama Prize for the play, Shakara: Dance-Hall Queen.  Awarded by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).

2001: Showcase production of my play, The Missing Face (April –May 2001.), Off-Off-Broadway by the New Federal Theatre, with Producing Director, Woodie King, Jr.

2001: $43,000.00 Grant awarded by the Institute of International Education, 809, United Nations Plaza, New York for the international stage production of my award-winning play, Then She Said It!

2000: $98,000.00 Grant Award by the Ford Foundation for the research/writing project, Who Can Silence the Drums? Delta Women Speak!

1995: Drama Prize, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Literary Award for the epic drama, Tell it to Women.

1995: Award of Excellence for Academic Contributions by Women of Color to the University of Wisconsin.

1989/90: Martin Luther King, Jr. Caesar Chavez, Rosa Parks Distinguished Writers Award, Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI.

1988: Distinguished Authors Award, Ife International Book Fair for Overall contribution to the development of African Literature.

1985: Drama Prize, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Literary Award for the play, The Desert Encroaches.

1978/79: Faculty Prize for the Overall Best Performance in the B.A. /B.Sc. Degree Examinations (Education), University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

1971: Selected Bendel State Student Ambassador to the North-Eastern State, Borno, Student Exchange Program in realization of the goals of President Yakubu Gowon’s National Reconciliation and Rehabilitation Initiatives following the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70).

1971: The State Scholar: Award of Academic Excellence, Bendel State Merit Scholarship Award to the top performing high-School Students in Bendel State (awarded by the government of Governor S. Ogbemudia’s) Bendel State Government, Nigeria.

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