My understanding from dictionaries is that an award is given because of merit. It is an honor for excellence that is often discovered through a competition.  This explanation partly relates to my awards. That’s why I include a list of those that were given to me through different contests. I am grateful to the judges, the organizations and those that nominated me for the awards.  I also want to honor the awards that I do not list here and were not given through competitions. They were just given to make me feel special. 


My father

Sports day in the town of Eke used to be great in those days. There were many exhibitions and competitions that included regular games like net ball, running, jumping, and soccer. There were other fun games like three-legged run in which they tied the left leg and right leg of two people so that they ran as one with three legs. There was a game in which blindfolded people ran one hundred meters. There was a game in which people ran holding spoons containing eggs. Others ran with bottles on their heads.


In 1963, the event took place at St. Paul’s School in Amankwo. My father came with his teams from Oma School.  I won a big prize, not just because I took the first position I my running event, but because of what my father did. Papa hugged me, threw me up in the air, caught me, and told me how pleased he was. People cheered. That was my big prize, my award, lodged right in my heart. 


Mamma’s chicken

I grew up in a large household.  My mother had many chickens. They had their own house called uno-okuko (chicken house). Most of them left the compound during the day. They ate fruits, vegetables and whatever they found in the shrubs. They always returned to their house in the evening. I remember that a few of them preferred to stay at the low orange three, but they were taken to their house until they got used to going to the house, which was just a kind of barn  that opened on top for cleaning purposes. I had a door on the side that was used by the chickens. We always knew when a predator was around because the chickens would run to hide and the mother would try to collect her chick under her wings. As children, we would start making a lot of noise, “hey hey hey hey hey hey.” This was supposed to frighten the invader. Sometimes we succeeded. Sometimes the kite carried away the chick and its mother would cry, “klu klu klu klu klu klu kr-r-r.” Others would cry with her.

The chicken house supplied poultry to my mother’s kitchen, but she used the opportunity to honor us one after the other. There was always an achievement by someone in the large household. this ensured that the meals frequently had chicken in them.
Anyi ga egburu gi okuko.
Having a chicken cooked in your name was a great honor. It made the individual feel special. 


Cornell University

Working on my postdoctoral at Cornell, a professor phoned my office. 
“Do you have time  this afternoon?”
“What is it?” I wondered whether I had stepped on the toes of this writer whose works I admired so much.
“I just want you to help me with something. It won’t take more than thirty minutes or so.”
We agreed on lunch time. I was happy to be of help to the famous Micere Mugo. I thought that maaybe she needed help with packing her office; she was preparing to move to another seat in Syracuse University.
On entering her office, they began to sing, “Happy birthday to you …”
Colleagues and friends had gathered in her office to celebrate my birth. This was very special because I was very far from home and family.
 Later she told me how she heard that it was my birthday. 
She critiqued my writing and gave me useful tips for making my characters better. This was more than gold.

Dr. Mugo Button


Wichita Students

I make a fairly comprehensive syllabus that explains the class policy; but a few students will always try to twist my arm. I nod my head in agreement when I hear colleagues "happily" complain that students can be a “pain in the …” I also know that they are my great joy because I love to engage in intellectual “wrestle” with young minds. I have had from good to excellent students’ evaluations, but nothing prepared me for what they said when they nominated me for the Phenomenal Award in 2009. I was invited to the award ceremony to honor the winner. When they were reading the nomination notes by the students, I thought that I would need to find out from the winner how she managed to earn such admiration and kind words. It turned out that I was that teacher.

There are many more anecdotes and events that keep the smile 
in my heart, but I’ll stop for now and share the following list:

2009    Phenomenal Woman Award.

2008    University Research/Creative Projects Award (URPC).

2004    Global Learning Most Outstanding Department Award.

1999    International Visitor, Colloque International, Ministere de la Culture, Paris.

1998    Rockefeller Writer in Residence, Bellagio Center, Italy.

1997    International Visitor, 40th Annual Meeting Of the African Studies Association (ASA); Columbus, Ohio.

1996   Outstanding Finalist, The Bertram’s V. O. Literature of Africa Awards; South Africa.

1994   Special Discovery of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) 1994, for proficiency as a Writer in the three genres of literature - poetry, prose and drama.

1994    2nd Place, Association of Nigerian Authors' (ANA) National Competition for Prose.

1994    Honors, Association of Nigerian Authors' (ANA) National Competition for Poetry.

1994    4th Place, Association of Nigerian Authors' (ANA) National Competition for playwriting.

1992  3rd Prize, Short Story Competition. Women's Research and Documentation Center (WORDOC), University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

1991   Rockefeller Fellowship, Hunter College, State University of New York.

1991    Rockefeller Fellow, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

1989    Ist Prize, Songs Competition (Solo), University of Benin, Nigeria.

1988    Ist Prize, Songs Competition (Solo), University of Benin, Nigeria.

1975    International Scholarship of Merit, University of Glasgow, U.K.

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Page title: Awards
Last update: November 21, 2009
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