MARY ONONOKPONO

Mary Ononokpono

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We would never learn their names, which would be whispered thereafter only by pockets of memory that floated in the wind; would never learn of their varied, torturous migrations, never realise that their remains lay scattered beneath our feat, that our homes had been constructed on the bones of their carcasses, nor that it was their rising, wandering spirits which roamed the expanding forests of Ekpo Nyoho. 

Mary Ononokpono, Ayanti

Migrations: New Short Fiction From Africa, New Internationalist Books

 
 

ABOUT

 

B. 11 FEBRUARY 1982

CALABAR, NIGERIA

 

MARY ONONOKPONO is a Nigerian-British writer. She is the recipient of the 2018 Florence Staniforth Prize for Excellence in Creative Writing, the winner of the 2017 Black Letter Media Short Story Prize, and the Winner of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books. Mary is also a two-time finalist of the Morland Writing Scholarship. Her writing has been published in various anthologies and magazines.

Mary’s work draws from the rich cultural legacies of the African continent. She creates narratives which reimagine the African past as a basis for examining present and future. Her work often grapples with the complexities of syncretism, primarily in Ibibio and Efik contexts. 

Mary is a History PhD Candidate at the University of Cambridge. Her research concerns economic and cultural transformations across the Bight of Biafra during the long eighteenth-century. She holds an MPhil in African Studies from the University of Cambridge where she graduated with distinction. At present, Mary is completing a novel.

 

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Notable Prizes/ Nominations

 
 

2018

FLORENCE STANIFORTH PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN CREATIVE WRITING

RECIPIENT

 

2017

BLACK LETTER MEDIA SHORT STORY PRIZE

WINNER

 

2016

MORLAND WRITING SCHOLARSHIP

SHORTLISTED

SHORT STORY DAY AFRICA PRIZE

LONGLISTED 

FARAFINA WRITING WORKSHOP with CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE

SHORTLISTED

 

2015

MORLAND WRITING SCHOLARSHIP

SHORTLISTED

SHORT STORY DAY AFRICA PRIZE

LONGLISTED

 

2014

GOLDEN BAOBAB PRIZE FOR EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS

WINNER

SHORT STORY DAY AFRICA PRIZE

LONGLISTED

COMMONWORD DIVERSITY FOR CHILDREN PRIZE

LONGLISTED

ARTIST STATEMENT 

 
 

DECEMBER 2012 - PRESENT

SPIRIT WORK IS BONE COLLECTING

 

 

 

SPIRIT WORK IS BONE COLLECTING is a body of work which springs from an initiatory trip to Nigeria in December 2012. The work takes the form of a collection of short stories; a soul retrieval in novel format; and a series of oratorial pieces which navigate ritual spatial thresholds. The aim is to give a hierarchy of spirit interlocutors tangible form. Work is ongoing. Select stories from the short story collection can be purchased here, here and here.

 

“Initiations only make you more and deeply what you truly are. There are in truth, no changes. And even the greatest experiences or revelations do not change a life. They only reveal what was deeply and truly there, in the depths of the personality. They only unveil the true self. 

For all initiation is unveiling, self-revealing.”

Ben Okri, Starbook

 

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