The popularity of poets cannot be compared to that of musicians and other celebrities even though many poets deserve more accolades than the former.

Therefore, we give kudos to you for sparing some time to know more about the great men that have utilized the power of a pen’s tip to not only educate but entertain us all.

In this article, we will look at the life story of one of the greatest men from Nigeria, a legendary author, and poet, Professor Niyi Osundare.

The following will be discussed as we go through the biography of Niyi Osundare:

Who Is Niyi Osundare?

Niyi Osundare is a top poet, linguist, literary critic, and dramatist in Africa. He was born on the 12th of March, 1947 in one of the western areas of Nigeria called Ikere Ekiti in Ekiti state. He reportedly got his inspiration for becoming a poet from the oral poetry of his culture and tribe (Yoruba) which he mix with some other poetic traditions around the globe such as in Latin America, European, Asia, and African America.

Osundare is a man that believes in word of mouth and is popularly known for the saying below:

To utter is to alter

Niyi Osundare

He also has shown interest in relevant social arts and exhibits his activism via art. He was a great critic of many Nigerian past leaders such as Rtd General Olusegun Obasanjo whom he wrote a lot of letters during his regime. Osundare believes strongly that African poets must have an active voice in the political affairs of their countries and routinely published some poems in the Tribune newspaper.

His published works in the Tribune were directed toward decrying the evils of General Sanni Abacha’s regime and informing the world about the lives of Nigerians. As a result, he is often visited by security agents during those periods to give clarifications on his poems since it is an offence to criticize the ruling power, especially in the military era.  

Early Life Of Niyi Osundare

There are not so many details about the family background of Niyi Osundare although he constantly refers to himself as a “Farmer Born” which means he was born by a farmer. According to what we got, Osundare’s father was one of the recognized musicians in his village while his grandfather was a local physician.

Osundare spent more time with his grandfather when he was very young. It is said that he used to follow his grandfather to get herbs and roots from the forest for healing purposes. This shows that he already became familiar with power, language (incantations), and the importance of nature from a tender age.

Educational Background Of Niyi Osundare

The academic life of Niyi Osundare began at St. Luke’s Primary School before he proceeded to Amoye Secondary School; both located in his hometown in Ikere-Ekiti. He also studied at the Christ School in Ado-Ekiti which many famous intellects in Nigeria also attended.  

Later, he secured his admission into the prestigious University of Ibadan where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree and proceeded to the University of Leeds in England for his Master’s degree. He finally got his PhD in 1979 at York University in Canada.

He became a professor in 1989 and was the former professor and Head of the English Department at the University of Ibadan from 1993 to 1997. Since 1997, he has been a professor of English at the University of New Orleans in the U.S.A.

Relationship Life Of Niyi Osundare

Niyi Osundare lives a rather private life with his family which is best to ensure maximum security for them. However, we were able to find out that he has a wife, Mrs Kemi Osundare and is blessed with three children (2 girls and a boy).

His family is believed to reside in Nigeria although Osundare lives in the States. He decided to relocate to the States to ensure his deaf daughter has access to quality education and does not feel lonely.  

Works Of Niyi Osundare

As a prolific writer, Osundare has been able to write and published many books. His works have earned him several awards and recognitions within and outside Nigeria.

Some of the works that Niyi Osundare has published include:

  • Song from the Marketplace in 1983
  • Village Voices in 1984
  • The Eyes of the Earth in 1986 which won a Commonwealth Poetry Prize from the Association of Nigerian Authors
  • Moon songs in 1988
  •  Song of the Season in 1999
  • Waiting Laughters in 1990 which won the Noma Award
  • Midlife in 1993
  • Selected Poems in 1992
  • Thread in the Loom (Essays on African Literature and Culture in 2002)
  • The Word is an Egg in 2002
  • The State Visit in 2002 (A Play)
  • Pages from the book of the Sun: New and Selected Poems in 2002
  • Early birds in 2004
  • Two plays in 2005
  • The Emerging Perspectives on Niyi Osundare in 2003
  • Not my Business in 2005
  • Tender Moments: Love Poems in 2006
  • City without People: The Katrina Poems in 2011
  • Random Blues in 2011 and so on

Net Worth Of Niyi Osundare

The net worth of Niyi Osundare is estimated to be about $10 million which includes his annual salary and other ventures. Although he acquired more of his wealth from being a creative writer, Osundare’s net worth also surge from profits received from Yeezy sneakers.

Awards And Recognitions Of Niyi Osundare

Osundare has received many awards and recognition for his rare writing skills from several prestigious organizations. These include:

  • First Prize at the Western State of Nigeria Poetry Competition in 1986
  • Major Book Prize and Letter of Commendation-BBC Poetry Competition in 1981
  • Honourable Mention- Noma Award for Publishing in Africa in 1986
  • Honourable Mention- Noma Award for Publishing in Africa in 1989
  • Joint-Winner of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Poetry Prize in 1986
  • Overall Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1986
  • Kwanza Award in 1991 etc


There is no doubt that Niyi Osundare will go down as one of the best writers that have crossed the surface of Nigerian soil. He is a prolific writer who utilized the power of the pen to correct the wrong of society and to fight against injustice and evil leadership.

He is a living legend among poets and must be celebrated as one. We are thriving to get many of his works on the site to ensure even if he dies, his works live on.

What do you know about Niyi Osundare? Feel free to share with us in the comment section


1. What does Niyi Osundare do for a living now?

Niyi Osundare is currently a Professor of English at the University of New Orleans, U.S.A

2. What type of poet is Niyi Osundare?

Niyi Osundare is one of the well-known Anglophonic poets in Nigeria. His versatility makes it quite difficult to place him under a particular category.  

3. Where did Niyi Osundare study?

Niyi Osundare attended the University of Ibadan for his Bachelor’s Degree in English and proceeded to the University of Leeds for his Master’s Degree in English. He got his PhD the York University in Canada before he became a professor.

4. Where is Niyi Osundare from?

Niyi Osundare hails from Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State in the South Western region of Nigeria.

5. How old is Niyi Osundare now?

As of 2022, Niyi Osundare is 75 years old since he was born in 194


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Scroll to Top