‘I Feel I’m Being Listened To’
FORMER Bursar of University of Benin, Benin City, Prof. May Ifeoma Nwoye, was one of the winners at Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) national convention at Ibadan, Oyo State. Her novel, Oil Cemetery, won the most coveted ANA/Chevron Prose Prize on Environment, worth $2,000. The prize rewards works that address themes on the environment.
The laureate, Nwoye, is one of the progressive female creative writers in the country. Her works have won and received diverse nominations. In 2004, she was one of the nominees for The Nigeria Prize for Literature sponsored by the gas company, NLNG.
Oil Cemetery highlights the plight of people in the Niger Delta region and how they cope with the environmental degradation oil exploration brings to their communities. Published last year by Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency, Houston, Texas, U. S., the story is woven around a young girl, Rita and her family. Interestingly, it is the young girl Rita who leads a subtle revolution that would later shock her entire community.
Winning the prize, she said, is a major boost in her writing career. “I feel good that my work was appreciated. As you know, I feel very concerned about the condition of the voiceless people, their feelings and expectations. Human beings are the raw materials with which and about whom I write. So, by winning this award, I feel as if I’m being listened to. For all these, I thank God for his kindness to me”.
Beyond being an academic and administrator, Nwoye is an advocate who is passionate about children, women, environment and family values. She has become a proactive influence in the crusade for women’s economic emancipation and empowerment. Her last novel, The Fourth World amply bears out these concerns. She is President, Intervention Council for Women in Africa, a non-profit organisation, and a member of Board of Trustee of Centre for Population and Environmental Development (CPED).
Her passions are seen in her literary works that spans two decades. Since her first novel, Endless Search (1994), Nwoye has brought forth an impressive collection of 11 novels and short stories. They include Tides of Life (a collection of short stories), 1995; Mirage in Breaking the Silence (1996); Edible Pet (1995); Blind Expectations (a collection of Stories, 1997); Death by Installments, 1999; A Child of Destiny (2000); Fetters and Choices (2003); Ancient Tales from Africa (The Broken Promise (2009), The Fourth World (2013) and Broken Melodies (an international version of Fetters and Choices (2014).