The Man Called Joseph Ushie.
Joseph Akawu Ushie, simply known as Joe Ushie in literary circles, is a professor of English and the current Vice-Dean, Postgraduate School, University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He was born at Akorshi, Bendi, the hilly Obanliku Local Government Area (which houses Nigeria’s foremost tourist attraction, the Obudu Cattle Ranch) of Cross River State,
He attended St. Peter’s Primary School, Bendi, Government Secondary School, Obudu, and the University of Calabar, Calabar, where he studied English and Literary studies, and was the Secretary-General, Student Union Government in 1980-81 session. He subsequently obtained the M. A. (1988) and PhD (2001) in English from Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan. Professor Ushie had served as Head, Department of English, and on several boards and committees in the University of Uyo. He had also been Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors, Akwa Ibom State Chapter, Judge, ANA national literary competitions (2009 – 2010), Juror of the Canada-based International Poetry Competition (2017) and a Co-Editor, Montreal 2017 Global Poetry Anthology.
His poem, “Africa Today” was the only African poem that won entry into the 2015 Montreal, Canada, Global Poetry Competition. Professor Ushie is author of six volumes of poetry and the editor of, and contributor to, the seventh volume, besides his scholarly publications in books, journals and as monographs. Some of his poems have appeared in world-wide anthologies in English and have been translated into Spanish, Finnish, French and German. His poetry book, Yawns and Belches (2018) won the 2019 Shehu Sani/ANA Poetry Prize. His poetry has been widely studied and read to audiences both in the country and around the world. He is a Fellow of the 2002 Fulbright Programme in New York, and has been a Visiting Lecturer to Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, and the Omar Bongo University, Libreville, Gabon, and the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.. Prof. Ushie has participated in academic events and conferences in Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, the UK, Malaysia, the Philippines, the USA, and at many forums within the country featuring mostly as keynote or plenary speaker.
He is a year 2000 recipient of the Cross River State Honours Award for his outstanding contributions to the promotion of African literature and culture, a 2010 recipient of the Distinguished ELSALITE Award of the Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Calabar, and a 2010/2011 honouree of the Academia Awards “Education Ambassador” of Akwa Ibom State. Prof. Ushie is an editorial consultant to many scholarly journals and magazines both within and outside the country, a foreign examiner to about 10 universities in India and an external examiner to many universities and other tertiary institutions in Nigeria. He is the lead co-editor of the 2009 ANA publication, Themes Fall Apart But the Centre Holds, and of its successor-volume, Arrows or Gods?
Critical Essays on the Leadership Question in Achebe’s Arrow of God. He is listed in the Newstrend Who’s Who in Akwa Ibom State as one of the Non-Indigenous Stakeholders (2012 – 2015) and in the 2017 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. A one-time Secretary of the University of Uyo Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), he is currently the Editor-in-Chief of two of the publications of the Union, The National Scholar and the ASUU Journal of Humanities.
>In addition to his scholarly and literary output, Prof Ushie has formed and runs two cultural groups aimed at reviving, preserving and promoting his community’s flank of African culture:
1. Akorshi Litong Dance Group
2. Libeh Songs and Drama Group.
The first is a dance group comprising about 30 boys and girls of whose ages range from about 10 to 18 years, with some elderly members as players of the special litong instrument and the common Bette-Bendi drums. The dance group was formed in 2013 to revive the litong music, which had been an ancient mystical music genre that had almost gone into extinction as it was left with only one person that could play it. The group has featured in many cultural events and is now the leading dance group in all of northern Cross River State. The second, Libeh Songs and Drama Group, is an effort to revive the Bette-Bendi people’s traditional marriage songs and drama, an event that used to witness one of the best displays of the people’s wealth in traditional poetry, proverbs and drama as a form of entertainment and social criticism before it became eclipsed by the modern, western-style “traditional” marriages. All the members are women. Both projects are seen by the community and beyond as the hope for the revival of the erstwhile rich Bette-Bendi culture.