Onyeka Nwelue, writer, filmmaker, teacher, and literary tastemaker, has reacted to the termination of his Academic Visitor status at the University of Oxford.
The termination was conveyed to Onyeka Nwelue via a one-line email from Professor Larmer Miles, Director, of the African Studies Centre, Professor of African History, and Fellow, St Antony’s College. The Tuesday, February 7, 2023 missive reads:
Please find attached a letter pertaining to the termination of your Academic Visitorship at the ASC.
In the attached letter, Prof. Miles adduced reasons for the termination. “It has come to our attention that you have on a number of occasions breached the visitor agreement with the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies and the African Studies Centre (ASC) in ways that have the potential to seriously damage the reputation of the Centre, the school and the wider university.”
The letter went ahead to elaborate on the alleged breaches.
In his response to the termination, Onyeka Nwelue who set up the James Currey Prize for African Literature and Earl Lovelace Short Fiction Prize in the course of his tenure at Oxford apologised for his perceived lapses:
Dear Professor Miles,
I hope you are well!
I would like to convey how deeply sorry I am for being perceived racist, classist, misogynistic and sexist. Those do not reflect how I was raised, and I am sincerely sorry to everyone I have hurt.
I did not mean to tarnish the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and I take full responsibility for events and situations which have been associated with their outstanding reputations. Even though I am no longer an Academic Visitor to both prestigious institutions, I am grateful for the platforms they provided me, and being able to work with the exceptional staff, students and faculty members in various respects. I understand how my conduct has and will affect my trusted colleagues and the initiatives I am involved in, and these will be reviewed. Coming to Oxford was not something I took for granted, and only wished to do everything within my means to make my time here as productive and rewarding for everyone as I could.
Please know I am taking the time to reflect on everything that has transpired and hope, in the days and weeks ahead, I can be forgiven. I sincerely apologise.