Prof. (Mrs) Catherine Obianuju Acholonu, born 26 Oct 1951 in Orlu, Nigeria, the former Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Arts and Culture, and foundation member of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), was an author of international standing. She attended secondary schools in Orlu before gaining a master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Düsseldorf, Germany, and taught at Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, commencing 1978.
Catherine Acholonu was a writer, researcher, and former lecturer on African Cultural and Gender Studies. She is the author of over 16 books, most of which are used in secondary schools and universities in Nigeria, and in African Studies Departments in USA and Europe. Her works and projects have enjoyed the collaboration and the support of United States Information Service (USIS), the British Council, the Rockefeller Foundation and in 1989 she was invited to tour educational institutions in USA, lecturing on her works under the United States International Visitor’s Program. In 1990 Catherine Acholonu was honored with the Fulbright Scholar in Residency award by the US government, during which she lectured at 4 colleges of the Westchester Consortium for International studies, NY, USA
Part of her work has taken her into the wider sphere of sustainable development. In 1986 she was the only Nigerian, and one of only 2 Africans to participate in the United Nations Expert Group Meeting on “Women, Population and Sustainable Development: the Road to Rio, Cairo and Beijing”, which was organized jointly by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Division for the Advancement of Women, and the Division for Sustainable Development. This took place in the Dominican Republic, and focused on the mainstreaming of gender into the Plans of Action of the UN world conferences of Rio, Beijing and Cairo. Prof Acholonu holds several awards from home and abroad.
She was appointed African Renaissance Ambassador by the African Renaissance Conference with head quarters in the Republic of Benin, and Nigeria’s sole representative at the global Forum of Arts and Culture for the Implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNFAC). Before this, from 1999-2002, she was the Special Adviser on Arts and Culture to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a post she resigned from to seek political office, along with a number of other writers who felt their inclusion in Nigerian politics would be for the good. However, she lost the contest the Orlu senatorial district seat of Imo State, and drew attention to irregularities and rigging.
She is listed in the International Who’s Who of World Leadership, USA; the African Women Writers’ Who’s Who; the Top 500 Women in Nigeria; Who’s Who in Nigeria; and the International Authors and Writers Who’s Who, published in Cambridge, UK.
Acholonu is the author of over 16 books of various genres. Her latest titles include The Gram Code of African Adam: Stone Books and Cave Libraries, Reconstructing 450,000 Years of Africa's Lost Civilizations (2005); the award winning They Lived Before Adam - Pre Historic Origins of the Igbo, The Never-Been-Ruled (2009); The Lost Testament of the Ancestors of Adam: Unearthing Heliopolis/Igbo Ukwu - The celestial City of the Gods of Egypt and India (2010); and Eden in Sumer on the Niger: Archaeological, Linguistic, and Genetic Evidence of 450,000 Years of Atlantis, Eden, and Sumer in West Africa (2013).
Acholonu was the Director of the Catherine Acholonu Research Center for African Cultural Sciences, Abuja (CARC) and the Nigeria Country Ambassaor of the United Nations Forum of Arts and Culture for the Implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNFAC). One of her titles - They Lived Before Adam - won the USA-based International Book Awards in 2009 in the Multi-cultural non-fiction category. At the 2009 Harlem Book Fair in New York, it also won the Phillis Wheatley Award for Work that Transcends Culture and Perception as well as the Flora Nwapa Award for Excellence (dedicated to Nigerian-born Africa’s first female novelist).
As a leading scholar of Nigeria's prehistory she was engaged in ground-breaking research on Africa's Pre-History, stone inscriptions, cave art, and linguistic analyses of ancient symbols and communication mediums from the continent. Her work is making a very persuasive case for the re-evaluation and possible rewriting of world history to ensure the contributions of the ancestors of indigenous Africans in it.
She was a strong advocate of traditional Igbo culture and religion and those who knew her well addressed her as Ezenwanyi, which in Igbo means "a women with the power of a king."
Catherine Acholonu, considered by many the greatest Igbo scholar of modern times, passed away on March 18, 2014 after being hospitalized for renal failure.