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Noo Saro-Wiwa. Image from Robertozhaugg.com.

Nigeria’s leading travel writer Noo Saro-Wiwa has been included in luxury and lifestyle travel publication Conde Nast Traveller‘s 30-name list of the “World’s Most Influential Women Travellers” of 2018, alongside American actress Angelina Jolie and Jordanian monarch consort Queen Rania al Abdullah.

The daughter of the iconic activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in 1976 and attended King’s College, London and Columbia University, New York. Her 2012 book Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria was nominated for the Dolman Best Travel Book Award, named Travel Book of the Year by Sunday Times and Financial Times, selected as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, and won the 2016 Albatros Travel Literature Prize in Italy. In 2015, she was awarded the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship. In 2018, she was a judge for the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour. Her writing has appeared in The GuardianThe IndependentThe Financial TimesThe Times Literary SupplementCity AMLa Repubblica and Prospect.

Noo Saro-Wiwa’s Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria. Image from Noo Saro-Wiwa’s Twitter.

Here is what Conde Nast Traveller had to say about her:

NOO SARO-WIWA 

This 42-year-old Nigerian writer grew up in Surrey, which she describes as ‘a bountiful paradise of Twix bars and TV cartoons and leylandii trees, far removed from the heat and chaos of Nigeria’ where you see ‘machine guns, tuxedos, army fatigues and evening frocks together at an airport.’ Her book Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria, is a brave first foray into travel literature; Noo’s father Ken Saro-Wiwa, who campaigned against government corruption, was executed by the military dictatorship of his country in 1995.

Noo had spent childhood summers in Port Harcourt on the Niger Delta but after this, she didn’t return for 10 years (except for his funeral and burial), wanting nothing more to do with the country. But in time she began tackling the subject of homeland, the same way she’d approached writing guidebooks (on Ivory Coast, Guinea, Madagascar, Benin, Ghana and Togo for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides) and writes that she came ‘to love many things about Nigeria: our indigenous heritage, the dances, the masks, the music, the baobab trees and the drill monkeys’. ‘I’ve been amazed by how many people have written to me and told me they knew nothing about Nigeria and how I opened their eyes,’ she says. ‘I feel I have a responsibility there.’ She’s now penning a book about Africans who live in China, a country she’s fallen in love with (‘after China, everything feels very boring,’ she says), then plans one on the Niger Delta, followed by Switzerland, which she calls ‘the heart of darkness of Europe’.

We are happy to see Noo Saro-Wiwa’s impact being recognised. Congratulations to her.

See the rest of the honourees HERE.

 

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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