The ‘Need to Know’ series focuses on African creative professionals all over the globe discovering and mastering their craft.

Meet Akwaeke, an Igbo and Tamil writer born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria. In this brief chat, she tell us about her writing rituals, inspirations and mantra on life.


Photo: Yagazie Emezi (

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Akwaeke Emezi and I’m an artist who works in fiction, memoir, experimental shorts and video art. I was born in Umuahia and grew up in Aba, Nigeria; I have a hereditary love for traveling, and I’m slightly obsessed with baking shows.


How did you know this was your path – what happened, what connected, what makes you passionate about what you do?

I consider writing my major path, so I’ll go with that one. I started writing when I was five years old, but I only decided to become a full time writer two years ago. I had just been admitted to a fully funded Creative Writing MFA program that would provide me with a stipend for three years, so it felt like the right moment to commit completely to making art. I think I’m passionate about it because it’s something I’ve loved for so long, and now I get to do it for a living, to challenge myself at my craft and really find out how good I can get at it.