Born of Ogwashi-Uku parentage in Kano, Nigeria, Nduka Anthony Otiono is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. He obtained his first and second degrees from the University of Ibadan where graduated as the second-best student in his Bachelor’s class and the best graduating student (Literature Emphasis) in his Masters Degree class. He obtained his PhD in English & Film Studies at the University of Alberta where he won numerous awards including the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship and was nominated for the Governor General’s Gold Medal for academic distinction. He held a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University where he was a Senior Research Assistant to Professor Chinua Achebe, the world-acclaimed author of Things Fall Apart, and was appointed a Visiting Assistant Professor. Dr. Otiono won a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, Canada’s most prestigious international postdoctoral fellowship, to Carleton University. He is a two-time recipient of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship (2015 and 2016), winner of a 2017 Carleton University Faculty of Arts and Social Science Early Career Research Excellence Award, winner of a 2016 Capital Educators’ award for excellence in teaching, and 2018.
Prior to turning to a career in academia upon relocating to Canada in 2006, Prof. Otiono was a journalist, adjunct lecturer at the University of Ibadan, and cultural activist in Nigeria and had published hundreds or stories on arts, culture, and political economy. He served as General Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA); Member of the National Committee for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage; Founding Member of the Board of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG)-sponsored $100,000 Nigerian Prize for Literature. A fellow of the William Joiner Centre for War and Social Consequences, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Prof. Otiono is the author of The Night Hides with a Knife (short stories), which won the ANA/Spectrum Prize; Voices in the Rainbow (Poems), a finalist for the ANA/Cadbury Poetry Prize; Love in a Time of Nightmares (Poems) for which he was awarded the James Patrick Folinsbee Memorial Scholarship in Creative Writing. He is the co-editor of We-Men: An Anthology of Men Writing on Women (1998), and Camouflage: Best of Contemporary Writing from Nigeria (2006).
Dr. Otiono’s early years were marked by Nigeria’s civil war and the challenges of internal migration with family from Northern Nigeria to his hometown in midwestern Nigeria. The passion to write originated from an early exposure to oral narratives and English Literature. His choice of focusing on an interdisciplinary doctoral research on street stories and popular media at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, was a logical progression of his early childhood experiences and work as a journalist. Besides many awards for professional excellence, Prof. Otiono has received national recognition in Nigeria for his contributions to the development Nigerian culture and letters. The awards include: Special Commendation from The Presidency, Federal Republic of Nigeria, for his outstanding contributions to the development of literature and the arts (July 2001); Appreciation Award, Second National Creativity Exhibition, 1997 and Very Outstanding Contributor to the Arts Award (VOCA) to The Post Express Literary Supplement (PELS) founded and edited by him.
Since obtaining his doctorate degree in Canada, Prof. Otiono has committed himself to a career in academia, and has been blessed with awards of excellence in teaching and research in Canada. A passionate advocate for community service, Prof. Otiono is President of the Igbo Association, Ottawa-Gatineau Capital region of Canada, and was rewarded with a 2018 Black History Ottawa Community Builder Award for Community Leadership. Prof Otiono has also demonstrated unflinching support to mentoring young Nigerians interested in intellectual advancement. Amongst numerous others, Prof. Otiono is particularly proud of his work at Delta State University Abraka as a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow for 2015 and 2016; he is also gratified by his mentoring of many Ogwashi-Uku sons and daughters including the newly minted Dr. Samantha Iwowo who was recently appointed to a lecturer position at Bournemouth University, U.K. Often working quietly and not given to flaunting his achievements, Prof. Otiono contributes occasionally to Ogwashi-Uku social media fora focusing on the development of Ogwashi-Uku, and has pledged substantial book donations to a new Ogwashi-Uku library in the works.