Life & Legacy of Comrade Festus Iyayi, Winner of the 1988 Commowealth Prize for Literature

Today, we will examine the biography of the late Festus Iyayi, a well-known farmer’s son. He is a famous Nigerian academic writer who made important contributions to society throughout his lifetime and uses literature to illustrate how society views social and political concerns. Join our Content Creation Academy  If you want to learn about StorytellingContent Creation, and how to build your Online Business.

Who is Festus Iyayi?

Festus Iyayi was born on September 29th, 1947 in Ugbegun, Esanland, Edo state, Nigeria. He enjoys being referred to as the farmer’s son. He is a well-known author who writes about social, moral, and political issues in society in a more realistic way. He was the former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Festus Iyayi’s Education

Festus attended Annunciation Catholic College in the Nigerian town of Irrua, in the former Bendel State. After completing his education, he enrolled in the government college in Ughelli and earned his degree there in 1968.

He entered the 1968 Kennedy Essay Competition sponsored by the US Embassy in Nigeria, where he won the zonal competition. In 1988, he also received the Commonwealth Writers Prize for his novel, HEROES.

Festus Iyayi continued his education and earned his M. Sc. in Industrial Economics from the Kyiv Institute of Economics in 1974. He also earned his Ph.D. from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom.

He returned to Benin after earning several degrees overseas and took a position as a lecturer in the University of Benin’s Department of Business Administration. Later, he was elected president of ASUU, and in 1986, he was elected head of the national organization.

Festus Iyayi was a certified lecturer and writer with interests in behavioral science, human resource management, and other paradigms. Indeed, he wrote beautifully, expressively, and realistically.

Festus Iyayi was 66 years of age when he passed on to be the lord (29th September 1947 – 12th November 2013).

Festus Iyayi’s physical features

His biceps are 11 inches, and he has brown eyes and brown hair. His waist measures 35 inches, and he has a strong physique.

Festus Iyayi’s Career

Festus Iyayi is a well-known figure who has pursued careers as a politician, a teacher, and a novelist. He uses realistic writing to express himself in his novels.

Festus Iyayi was an outstanding lecturer who was interested in radical social concerns and many other paradigms. He served as an economic correspondent for several publications between 1974 and 1977 in Bendel State at the start of his career. He was also an industrial training officer at Bendel State University, in Ekpoma.

Popular books by Festus Iyayi

Festus Iyayi was a famous author who created works that really depicted how the ruling class subjugates, coerces, and oppresses the unruled class. He also discussed how the oppressed masses confront their oppressors in anger and struggle for their civil rights and the future of the nation.

Some of his books are;

  • Violence (ISBN 0-582-64247-7): Published in 1979, this book discussed the daily victimization and exploitation of Nigeria’s working-class population. The book “Violence” is written as a novel.
  • The Contract (ISBN 0-582-78524-3): This novel-style book was published in 1982. The writer showed concern for the general population of society. The key topics were privilege, money, and corruption.
  • Heroes (ISBN 0-582-78603-7) is a book that examines the country’s civil war from both the Nigerian and Biafran sides through the prism of battle. It was published in 1986. It is written in the style of a novel. In 1988, his novel was awarded the Commonwealth Prize for Literature.
  • In 1996, the book Awaiting Court Martial (ISBN 978-2601-79-9) was published. The novel demonstrates Iyayi’s disdain for the widespread corruption permeating society.

Festus Iyayi’s Achievement 

  • Festus Iyayi was the noble winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1988 for his novel HEROES.
  • He won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize in 1987.
  • He won the Kennedy Essay zonal competition that is sponsored by the US Embassy in Nigeria. 


Challenges are impediments that might weaken you or strengthen you. How you handle it will determine whether you succeed. Despite making such great sacrifices for Nigeria, Festus Iyayi still had to deal with a lot of difficulties.

Festus Iyayi encountered difficulties after having his possessions thrown out of the university quarters, housing, and employment snatched from him, leaving his family instantly penniless. Additionally, his citizenship rights were denied.

The strike was also a major challenge for him being the ASUU chairman because he had to put the interests of all educational bodies in mind.

He may have faced more challenges than those listed but always remember that challenges are there to make you stronger. It’s comforting to know that despite all of these challenges, Festus Iyayi triumphed and was able to achieve a lot of things before his death.


On November 12, 2013, Festus Iyayi passed away. He was killed in a horrifying car accident caused by Governor Idris Wada’s careless security convoy while traveling to Kano State for an ASUU conference. The collision happened on the Lokoja-Abuja Highway.

Festus Iyayi`s burial events

The dates of the burial were set for December 4th and 7th. The family and funeral committee in Benin released a statement that contains the notice of the burial. The announcement, which was signed by Ehidiamen Iyayi and Diri Teilanyo, states that Festus Iyayi’s bones will be buried on December 7 in Ugbegun, Esan Local Government, Edo State.

There would be a solidarity march in honor of him right from the Faculty of Social Sciences in Benin to his residence. Both at his home and at the location of his burial, there would be musical services and a night of remembrance.

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