I was privileged to have grown up in rural towns and villages where nature and the arts were felt as part of social living.Bk-play You knew the time of the morning by the sound of different birds. The cocks would crow sometime before the sun came up and crow again just before morning. The birds of the air 
had their own sounds. People shouted greetings across our yard.
“Unu hokwere?”
“Isala chi?”
These were said in different dialects of the speakers and they were musical because of 
the tonality of Igbo language.

My brothers, IK and Pat, were my immediate play mates. Our friends, Vicky, Anthony, and Charlie, were also in our crew. We devised endless repertoire of play scenarios and games. We dramatized family life, the priest and congregation, the school and other scenarios. Vicky and I sometimes had our own play like Swell and Oga. We sang. We built sand houses with doors and constructed roads that led to them. We were praised for our creativity. The festivals were also important sources of entertainment. Festival songs and dance performances were exciting. We knew the names of different masquerades. They came to our compound and Papa would salute them and place gifts of money on the fan of their guide in appreciation of their artistic performance. Sometimes the night masquerades sang satires and people listened from their beds to his narration and mockery of people who committed offenses or blundered in some ways. That was gossip. That was broadcast of hidden news.Bk-Story

The evening story-telling sessions were also very entertaining. They had music, poetry and drama in them. We all participated in the story by chorusing the songs, clapping, and sometimes imitating the characters. Papa told stories. Mama told us stories. The young women who attended my mother’s domestic science school also told a lot of stories. They were not professional; just ordinary folks living their lives and expressing their talents. My father, for example, was a teacher but he was acclaimed locally for his story-telling art. At weddings and communal ceremonies, people would “beg” him to “say something.” It could
be an advice, wisdom, or anecdote but people usually enjoyed and laughed because of his style. When I heard him at a wedding conclude a story by advising the couple to live like a blind person and a deaf person, people laughed so much. I did not  see the fun or wisdom until I grew up and heard things about my boyfriend.

There was music in our house. My parents patronized choirs. My mother sang when  she prayed and made us do the same at family prayers. She sang while she worked. After church, people used to gather in our house to eat and drink palm wine. My father would play records on the gramophone with a long neck and a pin on its "mouth." Me and my brothers memorized the music just by hearing them many times. Sometimes we performed with other kids for the Sunday visitors. When my big brother, Charles, returned from college I danced for him. He said that I was the greatest. I believed him because everybody complimented me.

The greatest artist in our house was my adopted brother, Aniamalu. He chose Augustine as his baptismal name, so we began to call him by his new name. He thought us how to paint our school boxes. My school box always looked unique because no parent could ever find the type in the shop to buy for their children. Augustine was a very good fine artist. We could all see something, like a man riding a unique motorcycle, but when Augustine drew it with charcoal on the wall, the image would look so real. He would put in all the details. I regarded him as a genius and he was. Even though Papa or Mama could tell us folk tales at night, we were very happy when Augustine was the one telling the stories because he danced and demonstrated. Of course, we were happy to chorus the songs. He could tell the same story differently and it would still be very interesting. I dedicated my collection of poems, It Grows In Winter, to him.

I internalized the artistic experience in my home and village environment. I also became a little performer. Not only did I sing and dance for people, I joined little girls’ dancing groups that performed during festivals. We performed in the compounds in the neighborhood. They always appreciated and gave us presents. Another thing that intrigued me was how people would urge me to recount what I witnessed with other people. Even those who were at an event with me would want me to describe it. At college, friends always told me to write stories because of the way I told and demonstrated them. I did not write because I was preoccupied with academics and getting good grades, but I made out time to act plays and join cultural pageants. These also fed my imagination. My earliest stories are still not published. It was not easy to publish unless you became recognized. I brought out the stories that I thought fitted a theme for ANA competition and I was lucky. After winning in the three categories of prose, poetry, and drama and named “the special discovery of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) for proficiency in the three genres of literature,” my books were published. The following include old and new writings:

Poetry-bk Play Play2 Bk- Bk-story Bk Bk


It Grows In Winter and Other Poems 
       - Excerpts: My love grows in winter
                        Wide country 
                         Fragments of Nine-Eleven 

He Wants to Marry Me Again and other Stories 
       - Excerpts: "He Wants to Marry Me Again"
                         "The Kolanuts are Dead"
                         "Ressurection before Burial"
From Earth’s Bed Chamber: A Collection of Poems          
       - Excerpts:  "Introduction"
                          "Seven and seven pots of poetry"
                          "First Interlude"
                          "Song of the goddess"

"Beloved Queen Echo"
Read story at   STORY STAR website
                      OR click button 
 "Beyond Child Abuse" - Excerpt    
(in  Eye to Eye edited by Perry and Schench)
OR see Button

Hilariously Obamized 1-10    
 Inspired by eloquence of the democratic primaries

Flipping button
the pages of her secret  
Seasons of Maine
       - Excerpts:  "Winter in Maine ..."
                          Summer is here ...  
                   Remembering  - Christmas 2010

My plays deal with political, social, gender and other issues so I use them as learning, teaching and mentoring tools. Students are the actors and actresses. We use any available space for our performances - classrooms, lecture theaters, concert halls and churches have been used. We focus on the issues, agree, disagree, understand the point of view of the characters and how they connect with our world. Our goal is always to present a good show to the audience, so we take our acting very seriously, not minding that we are pre-amateurs. My experience at the University of Nigeria under the tutelage of Kalu Uka, who made us use any available space including the stadium and the Alexandria auditorium that was badly damaged by the Nigeria/Biafra war, is always at the back of my mind whenever any students complain about our stages. Of course my years at Sherman Theater of  University College, Cardiff, under Geoffrey Axworthy greatly complemented the audacity of my approach to theater.  See some plays and reviews of some performances:

The New Toyi Toyi (a play)

The Lion And The Iroko (a play) 

Campus Palavar and Other Plays 

"Scramble for Africa 2"

"Three Women"

"My Scholarship"

Mosquito's Last Card: A Play for the stage and radio

Review of  "Africana 2009" - Africana-    

 Review of The New Toyi Toyi by Chinyere Okafor.Observer Magazine (Swaziland), March 6-7.

Ngcobo, Johnson. “The Play with emotions.The Swazi News (Swaziland). March 6.

 Dunton, Chris. “Okafor, Chinyere Grace,” In Nigerian Theater in English: A Critical Bibliography. London: Hans Zell publishers, pp.162-169.

“The Lion and the mighty iroko tree - Review of Okafor’s The Lion and the Iroko.” Nigerian Tribune.  September 4, Living and Development page.

 “Drama and state of the nation.” Nigerian Tribune. June 19, Living and Development page.

Abiola, A. “Theatre at UNIBEN main auditorium.” The Observer (Nigeria), April 15. p. 7.

Back to Top Button                         Back to Contents Button

Community service             
Key note speeches
Poetry reading
Professional affiliations
Professional experience
Research interests
Selected courses taught
Work in progress

Page title: stories, poems, plays & theater
Last update: January 4, 2011
Web page by C. G. Okafor
Copywright © Chinyere G. Okafor