Africa’s best writers generally tend to be very well educated folks, often having attended some of the top universities on the continent, and in the west. But even by the generally high standards we have come to expect, Festus Iyayi’s credentials stand out.
Iyayi graduated in 1968 after attending Government College Ughelli in Nigeria. Thereafter, he went to the then USSR to do a Master of Science in Industrial Economics at the Kiev Institute of Economics. From there, he went on to do his Ph.D at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom.
In 1980, he returned to Nigeria to take up a lecturer position at the University of Benin, where soon his Marxist beliefs and interest in workers’ rights soon became evident. He later became president of the local branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which at the time was known for its active stance on many issues concerning staff rights.
Iyayi rose to become national president of the union in 1986. Two years later, the union was banned, and Iyayi was briefly detained. That same year, his book “Heroes” received the Commonwealth Writers Prize for best book of the year. Todate, only one other African writer, the respected J.M. Coetzee, has won this prestigious annual prize.
For all his talent, Iyayi’s writing success did not come easily. As he reveals in a 2007 interview with the Sun newspaper (Nigeria), he had a rough time getting his first work, “Violence”, published. After a local publisher in Nigeria sat on the manuscript for over a year, Iyayi travelled to London, where Longman Publishers accepted to publish the book.
Today, Iyayi is a member of different Nigerian literary organizations, continues to lecture and works in the private sector as a consultant.
Sources: Wikipedia, Http://biography.jrank.org , Others
Selected Books by Festus Iyayi
Violence, Longman (1979)
The Contract, Longman (1982)
Heroes, Longman (1986)
Awaiting Court Martial (1996)