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Wisconsin Public Television program features Tess Onwueme's inspiring life story

| Judy Berthiaume

Wisconsin Public Television will share the life story of Dr. Tess Onwueme, a much-celebrated African playwright and a member of UW-Eau Claire’s English faculty, this week in its "Wisconsin Life" program.

The story about Onwueme will air statewide at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, on Wisconsin Public Television's main channel and again at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.

One of the best-known and most prolific women playwrights of African descent, Onwueme has received prestigious international awards that place her among a select group of world-class writers.

Last year, Onwueme learned that she was nominated for a Nobel Prize for Literature, which often is described as the most prestigious literature award in the world.

A playwright, scholar, activist and producer, Onwueme creates works that explore a range of social, political, historical, cultural and environmental concerns of Nigerians, specifically women, youth and people of the relegated, underprivileged and silenced have-nots, especially those of the Niger Delta and related Third World societies.

One of the most celebrated and prolific women playwrights from Africa, Onwueme is the only four-time winner of the Association of Nigerian Authors drama award

In addition to having published more than 20 plays, she has received numerous grants and international literary honors and awards, and her work has been the subject of dozens of scholarly works.

In 2009, she received the prestigious 2009 Fonlon-Nichols award, given only to the most significant black writers.

UW-Eau Claire's first Distinguished Professor of Cultural Diversity, Onwueme joined the university’s English faculty in 1994 and now serves as the first University Professor of Global Letters.

In its story, Wisconsin Public Television shares how Onwueme arrived in the United States with $100, as a single mother with five children.

In the years since, she turned her dreams into an acclaimed career and celebrated life.

The Wisconsin Public Television story also is available online.