FTR series celebrate Women’s History Month

March’s installment in the Final Thursday Reading Series feature Ukamaka Olisakwe author of “Ogadinma: or, Everything Will Be All Right”

EMMA KOEHLER, Staff Writer

As a recognition of women from previous generations, author of “Ogadinma: or, Everything Will Be Alright,” Ukamaka Olisakwe was the guest star of March’s Final Thursday Reading Series on Thursday, March 25 via Zoom. Olisakwe says the novel is meant to represent women of her mother’s generation and the hardships they endured. 

“While for some (women) of my mother’s generation, early marriage worked well for them, but for others it was disastrous,” said Olisakwe. “This book is sort of my tribute to my mother’s generation to document their journey.”

Olisakwe read two different passages from her novel along with a poem, all relating to issues women face in African culture.

She recalled scrolling Twitter and stumbling upon a tweet about women being impatient and easily walking away from their marriages. She felt angry that someone should make such an accusation when she knew some of the tough situations her mother and other women endured. She decided she wanted to highlight many of the things that African women allow to go unnoticed. 

“My mother’s generation did not walk away. They stayed in their marriages, they persevered, they endured and they made their marriage work,” Olisakwe said. “We wrap too many things in silence; we don’t talk about it because we are not encouraged to talk about it. We often talk about marriage in the good light; we talk about how to make marriage work.”

As a mother herself, Olisakwe had her first child early in her life. Following her child’s birth, she decided she still wanted to do more in her life.

Today, she is regarded as a well-known Nigerian novelist, short-story writer and screenplay writer. In 2014, she was recognized by UNESCO World Book Capital – a part of the Africa39 Project – as one of Africa’s most promising writers under 40. In 2016, she joined the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. 

The Final Thursday Reading Series is a cooperative effort of Final Thursday Press, the Hearst Center for the Arts and the University of Northern Iowa College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences. As March is Women’s History Month, this month of readings was co-sponsored by the UNI’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program. 

Languages and Literature’s Department Head, as well as founder and host of the Final Thursday Reading Series, Jim O’Loughlin, has high hopes that the current virtual series will return to somewhat in-person next month.

He is hoping to gather outside in a socially-distant environment as well as broadcast on Zoom for those who wish to continue joining virtually. The series brings together creative minds to showcase their work and accomplishments and provides open-mic opportunities. 

The next installment of the Final Thursday Reading Series will occur on Thursday, April 29 at 7 p.m. in the Hearst Center Sculpture Garden. The event will be moved to Zoom if the weather is not ideal. The guests include UNI’s own professor of astronomy Thomas Hockey and professor of mathematics Doug Shaw.emma