Chigozie Obioma


Chigozie Obioma was born in Akure, Nigeria. His debut novel, The Fishermen, is winner of the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the NAACP Image Awards for Debut Literary Work, and the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction (Los Angeles Times Book Prizes); and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize 2015, as well as for several other prizes in the US and UK. Obioma was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015. His work has been translated into more than twenty-six languages and adapted into stage. He is an assistant professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His second novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, will be published in Spring 2019 by Little, Brown and Co.

I conceived this poem while working on my debut novel, The Fishermen. Before it became divided into nation-states, Africa was for long a place where the various European powers “dumped their wastes.” Those wastes ranged from ideologies to actual indoctrination that would lead to the replacement of our civilizations by those of the West. But also, they took men and women out of the continent during the transatlantic slave trade, and in the context of this long poem, soldiers. In “We Will Wait for You,” the unnamed woman is waiting for her husband who has been drafted as a member of the African Frontier Force to fight for the colonial army of the British in World War I. In a time when there were fewer reliable means of communication, waiting was even more difficult. The one place where she is able to wait, which offers some symbolic signification of hope, is the cooking hearth.


Some of my favorite people on earth are in this book,
Dear writers and grand spirits.

Annie Dillard