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Meet Onyeka Nwelue, the man who made the teaching of Igbo language at Oxford University possible

By Kalu Nwokoro Idika


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On the 18th of February 2022, the social media was agog after Emmanuel Ikechukwu Umeonyihirioha announced through his official Twitter handle that he has been inducted by Oxford University to teach Igbo language.

According to his update on Twitter, his induction automatically made him the first Igbo language lecturer at the prestigious citadel of learning.

Emmanuel while announcing the feat to his followers said, “It is official that I am the first official Igbo Language lecturer at the number one university in the world, the University of Oxford.

“Our induction happened today by Marion Sadoux, Head of Modern Language Programmes, University of Oxford Language Centre.

“This became possible in account of the James Currey Society. This is the first time the Igbo language will be taught at the university. History has been made.”

Millions of Igbo speaking Nigerians across the globe have celebrated the feat, describing it as one of the best thing that has ever happened to the Igbo speaking extraction of Nigeria.

Although, an attempt was also made by some overzealous individuals to hijack, twist and blow the entire development out of place.

However, when NewsBand elite investigative team researched about James Currey Society, which Emmanuel Ikechukwu acknowledged as the society that made the whole project possible, it discovered that the organization was found by a young Imo born scholar, known as Onyeka Nwelue.

Who is Onyeka Nwelue?


Dr Onyeka Nwelue


Onyeka Nwelue is a Nigerian filmmaker, publisher, talk-show host, bookseller, author and an Academic Visitor and founder of the James Currey Society, at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford

His non-fiction 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 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.

Nwelue is the founder of La Cave Musik, a record label based in Paris, France, and co-founded the UK-based publishing house Abibiman Publishing.

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 was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, by Universite Queensland in Haiti in 2019.

He studied Ancient Masterpieces of World Literature, under Professor Martin Puchner at Harvard University. The Onyeka Nwelue Scholarship for outstanding Imo State Economics is named after him.

He was a Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg, in South Africa, where he runs a bookshop Hattus Books and co-founded World Arts Agency.

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, 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.

Nwelue is a Visiting Fellow (Academic Visitor) at the University of Oxford.

He is the founder of Oxford-based James Currey Society, which administers The James Currey Prize for African Literature and The James Currey Fellowship, in cooperation with African Studies Centre at University of Oxford.


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