print header

Tess Onwueme

onwuemeTess Onwueme is currently one of Africa's leading writers, and has received international recognition for many of her plays. Originally from Ogwashu-Uku, Delta State, Nigeria, Tess received her Ph.D in drama from the University of Benin, Nigeria, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Literature from the University of Ife, Nigeria. Her website,, offers additional information on her speaking, academic, and creative career.

Before joining the faculty at UW-Eau Claire in 1994 as the institution's first Distinguished Professor of Cultural Diversity, she was a professor of Multicultural Studies at Montclair State University in New Jersey, and a professor of African Studies at Vassar College.

Her teaching, academic focus and interests include African, diasporan, cultural, postcolonial, and women's studies, with an emphasis on the experience and conditions of rural women in the postcolonial, globalized Third Worlds. Among the prestigious awards she has received for her writing are: the Association of Nigerian Authors Literary Prize for Drama (in 1985 for The Desert Enroaches, 1995 for Tell it to Women, 2001 for Shakara: Dance-Hall Queen, and 2003 for Then She Said it), the (African) Distinguished Author Award (1988), and the Martin Luther King/Ceasar Chavez/Rosa Parks Distinguished Writer/Scholar Award (1989/90). For two consecutive years (2000 and 2001), Tess Onwueme has recieved substantial awards from the Ford Foundation for her research project, "Who Can Silence the Drums: Delta Women Speak" resulting in the writing and production of her play, THEN SHE SAID IT!.

Her play, The Missing Face, was performed Off-Broadway in New York from April 27th until May 28th, 2001. Tess Onwueme's other creative writings include: What Mama Said, No Vacancy, Why the Elephant Has No Butt, Shakara: Dance Hall Queen, Tell it to Women, Riot in Heaven, Three Plays, Parables for a Season, Legacies, The Reign of Wazobia, Mirror for Campus, Ban Empty Barn, The Scent of Onions, The Desert Enroaches, The Broken Calabash, A Hen Too Soon, The Artist's Homecoming, and Some Day soon.