Ifeoma Okoye is a renowned Nigerian author and one of Enugu’s literary icons, with a distinguished literary career spanning several decades.
Born on December 21, 1937, in Anambra State, in the then Eastern Region of Nigeria, she studied at St. Monica’s College Ogbunike in Anambra’s Oyi local government area and gained her teaching certificate in 1959. She worked at an international school in Enugu for four years in the late 1960s. In 1974, she started university at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she gained her BA in English in 1977. In 1986–1987, she studied at Aston University in Birmingham and earned a post graduate degree (MSc in Teaching English for Specific Purposes). Ifeoma Okoye went on to lecture first at Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu (1978–1992) and then at Nnamdi Azikiwe University at Awka, Anambra State (1992–2000).
Her contributions to literature as a teacher and storyteller, have earned her a place of honor and respect.
Below is an extensive literary profile of Ifeoma Okoye:
Ifeoma Okoye’s exceptional talent and storytelling prowess have been recognized with numerous literary awards and accolades, including:
- African Regional Winner, Commonwealth Short Story Competition: Her short story titled ‘Waiting for a Son’ earned her this prestigious accolade, highlighting her ability to craft compelling narratives.
- Best Novelist of the Year Award by Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA): Ifeoma Okoye’s adult novel titled “Men Without Ears” received this esteemed award, underscoring her impact on the Nigerian literary scene.
- National Festival for Arts and Culture Award: She received this award not once but twice, once for her adult novel “Behind the Clouds” and once for her children’s book “Village Boy,” demonstrating her versatility as a writer.
- Macmillan Children’s Literature Award: Her children’s book “Village Boy” was honored with this notable award, reflecting her skill in crafting stories that resonate with young readers.
- Ife International Book Fair Award: Recognized for her work in children’s literature, she received this award for “Only Bread for Eze,” further highlighting her dedication to promoting literacy among young audiences.
- Spectrum Books Award: Her novel “Behind the Clouds” was acknowledged as one of the Best 25 Nigerian Books written over the past 25 years, emphasizing the enduring quality of her work.
Ifeoma Okoye’s body of work includes a diverse range of novels and books, showcasing her literary talent and storytelling prowess. Her notable publications include:
- “The Fourth World” (Novel) – Published by The Rising People’s Press, Enugu, Nigeria, in 2013. This novel was shortlisted for the NLNG Literature Prize in 2016.
- “Nowhere to Hide” (Young Adult Novel) – Published by Macmillan in 2000.
- “Chimere” (Novel) – Published by Longman Nigeria in 1992.
- “Men Without Ears” (Novel) – First published by Longman UK in 1984 and later by Pearson UK. This novel, which won awards and was even translated into Russian, exemplifies her impact on a global scale.
- “Behind the Clouds” (Novel) – First published by Longman UK in 1982 and later by Pearson UK. This acclaimed work is a testament to her storytelling prowess.
- “Village Boy” (Teenage Novel) – Published by Macmillan in 1978 and recognized with awards for its contribution to children’s literature.
- “GO FOR GOLD With Your Writing” (English Book) – Published by The Rising People’s Press, Enugu, in 2013. This book serves as a valuable resource for aspiring writers.
Ifeoma Okoye has also made significant contributions to the world of short stories, with her works appearing in various publications, including:
- “The Trial and Other Stories” – Published by African Heritage Press, New York, in 2005.
- “Waiting for a Son” – Published in Commonwealth Broadcaster in November 1999 – January 2000 and featured in the anthology “Short Stories by 16 Nigerian Women” published by Ishmael Publishing Company.
- “The Pay Packet” – Featured in “Touch Stone” in Spring, Texas, in 1991, and included in “The Heinemann Book of African Women Writing,” published by Heinemann International Literature and Textbooks in 1993.
- “The Power of a Plate of Rice” – Included in “Opening Spaces: An Anthology of Contemporary African Women’s Writing” published by Heinemann in 1999 and translated into Spanish. It also appeared in “Breaking the Silence: An Anthology of Short Stories by Women Writers of Nigeria” in 1996.
Ifeoma Okoye’s contributions to children’s literature have left a lasting impact. Her notable children’s books include:
- “Chika’s House” – Published by Oxford, Heinemann, in 1995 and later by Pearson UK. This book has been translated into multiple languages, including Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Kiswahili, Ndebele, and Shona.
- “Ayo and His Pencil” – Published by Oxford, Heinemann, in 1995 and later by Pearson UK. Like her other works, it has been translated into several languages.
- “Neka Goes to Market” – Published by Oxford, Heinemann, in 1995 and later by Pearson UK. It, too, has been translated into multiple languages.
- “No School for Eze” – Published by Fourth Dimension Publishers in 1980.
- “Only Bread for Eze” – Also published by Fourth Dimension Publishers in 1980 and recognized with the Ife Book Fair Award in 1985.
- “No Supper for Eze” – Published by Fourth Dimension Publishers in 1980.
- “Eme Goes to School” – Published by Flora Nwapa & Co. in 1980.
- “The Adventures of Tulu the Monkey” – Published by Flora Nwapa & Co. in 1980.
Ifeoma Okoye’s contributions to literature, particularly her dedication to children’s literature and her storytelling prowess, have left an indelible mark on the literary world. Her extensive body of work reflects her commitment to education, cultural preservation, and the art of storytelling.