Dr. Ernest Emenyonu Featured in Faculty Research Spotlight

On Wednesday, October 29th, Dr. Ernest Emenyonu, Professor and Chair of UM-Flint’s Africana Studies Department was featured as the as the subject of a Faculty Research Spotlight by the Office of Research. The title of his talk was “Verbal Arts, Folklore, and Literary Imagination in non-Western Pre-Colonial Societies: the Evolution and Development of the Novel in African Languages.”


Dr. Ernest Emenyonu

Per the Office of Reasearch:

The research investigates the trends in the evolution and development of literature written in African indigenous languages from its antecedents (oral performances–folklore, epics, legends, myths, etc.), to the emergence of the novel. The focus is on the historic emergence of OMENUKO, the first ‘African Language Novel’ (ALN) in Nigeria and, possibly, West Africa, written in the Igbo language and published in London in 1933.


Dr. Terry Van Allen, director of the Office of Research, introduced Dr. Emenyonu.


The Research Spotlight was well attended by students, staff, and faculty, including CAS Interim Dean, Dr. Albert Price.

Dr. Emenyonu spoke to a packed house on his own history with African literature and on the challenges and roles of recent and current African writers. He touched on the long tradition of storytelling in African culture, and the the mistakes made by the colonizing world in failing to recognize these traditions. He also discussed his current work, both research and writing. Among his prolific works are translations, critiques, literary journals, and children’s books. His two most recent publications are Remembering A Legend: Chinua Achebe and an English-language translation of Omenuko by Pita Nwana.


Dr. Emenyonu brought books of his own and by others for attendees to explore.

This research spotlight comes on the heels of the Africana Studies department hosting world-famous author Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie and just before the department will take a group of UM-Flint students, faculty, and staff to Ann Arbor for a talk given by Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple.

To learn more about the Africana Studies department, its faculty members and their research, visit their website.