Mabel Segun (born 1930) is a Nigerian poet and writer.

Born in Ondo, Nigeria, she attended the University of Ibadan, graduating in 1953 with a BA in English, Latin and History. She taught these subjects in Nigerian schools, and later became Head of the Department of English and Social Studies and Vice-Principal at the National Technical Teachers’ College, Yaba. As a broadcaster, she won the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation 1977 Artiste of the Year award.

Segun has championed children’s literature in Nigeria through the Children’s Literature Association of Nigeria, which she founded in 1978, and the Children’s Documentation and Research Centre, which she set up in 1990 in Ibadan. She is also a fellow of the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany.

In 2010 Mabel Segun received the Nigerian National Merit Award for her lifetime achievements.


• Conflict and Other Poems (1986)
• My Father’s Daughter (1965)
• Under the Mango Tree (1979)
• Olu and the Broken Statue (1985)
• The Twins and the Tree Spirits (1990)
• Sorry, No Vacancy (1985)

Text compiled and edited by Wole Adedoyin

From another source….


Mabel Segun was born in 1930 in Ondo town. Her parents, Reverend Isaiah and Eunice Aig-Imoukhuede were from Sabongidda Ora in Edo State. From 1938 to 1941 Mabel Segun received her primary education in St Peter’s School, Edunabon, Akoko Jubilee Central School, Ikare, St Paul’s School, Ikole and St David’s School, Akure. From 1942 to 1947 she attended the oldest girls’ school in NIGERIA – C.M.S. Girls’ School, Lagos, founded in 1869. She left with a Grade 1 Cambridge School Certificate with exemption from LONDON Matriculation.
Mabel Segun was admitted into the second set of the newly founded University College, Ibadan in 1949 and graduated in 1953 with a second class London Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, Latin and History.
Mabel Segun has had a varied professional career. She has taught in various secondary and post secondary institutions, including Edo College, Benin-City and National Technical Teacher’s College, Akoka, Yaba. A trained editor and public relations officer trained in the United Kingdom and the U.S.A., she has also been:

Hansard Editor to the Western NIGERIA Legislature;
Overseas Publicity and Features Officer, Western Region Information Service;
Head of Information, Publications and Broadcating, Federal Ministry of Education;
Pioneer secretary to the Nigerian Book Development Council;
Deputy Permanent Delegate and Acting Permanent Delegate of NIGERIA to UNESCO, Paris;
Chief Federal Inspector of Education;
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan and editor African Notes and other Institute publications.
On retiring from both the public service (June 1982) and university service (November 1989), she set up the Children’s Literature Documentation and Research Centre (CLIDORC) in Ibadan and became its director.
Mabel Segun has THREE children, Femi, Gbenga and Omowunmi.


Mabel Segun was a freelance radio and television broadcaster for twenty-seven years, contributing at first to the schools programmes of the pioneer Western Nigerian Television Broadcasting Service based in Ibadan and the national programmes of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), later renamed Federal Radio Corporation (FRCN) based in Lagos.

In Lagos, she broadcast in almost all the departments of the Radio NIGERIAService including talks, features, women’s and children’s, sports and news. Her most outstanding contribution was the weekly social satire which went by various programme titles: Off Beat Views, Oddity, In the Round, This and That. This highly popular programme ran for fourteen years (1961 – 1974). The talks were witty and anecdotal and contained amusing vignettes of Nigerian’s including the speaker. She satirized the medical professions cult-like behaviour, lawyer’s quibbling, hypocrisy in the church, the vanities of extended burial ceremonies, nepotism, polygamy (ancient and modern) and the lethal disogarnised Lagos traffic.

When the Voice of NIGERIA Service for foreign listeners was STARTED by FRCN, Mabel Segun was invited to contribute a weekly newsletter for foereign listeners. This was aired for six years (1964 -1970). Modelled after the famous Alistair Cooke Series – Letter From America – it commented on various news items which she enlivened with a touch of humour. FRCN recognised her outstanding contributions tot he development of radio broadcasting in the country by naming her “Radio Nigeria Artiste of the Year 1977″.

Mabel Segun was involved in television both as an artiste and as a producer. From the late 1960s to the mid-1970 she was often invited to moderate Viewpoint, a Nigerian Television discussion programme which drew public attention to the problems faced by women in a changing socio-cultural environment. She also rewrote folktales for the children’s programme and PRESENTED sports promoting programmes among young children.

Her work as a television producer was done under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Education whose broadcasting unit she headed from 1967 to 1970. She revolutionized the teaching of English on television by introducing into her primary school lessons interactive elements such as games and playacting. Under her supervision the science lessons were also made more exciting and thought-provoking.

Mabel Dorothy Segun is a versatile woman whose outstanding achievements in the fields of literature, broadcasting and sports have earned her NIGERIA’s national honours which she was awarded in December 2004. In October 2007, she was proclaimed joint winner of NIGERIA’s most prestigious PRIZE for Literature – the LNG Nigeria PRIZE for Literature which was awarded for her children’s book, Readers’ Theatre: Twelve Plays for Young People. In 2009, her long literary and academic career was rewarded when she received the Nigerian National Order of Merit for academic excellence in the humanities.

Mabel Segun Mabel Segun has written, co-authored and edited several children’s books including the classic autobiography My Father’s Daughter and its sequel, My Mother’s Daughter both of which have formed the subject of University theses and literary articles in Nigeria and overseas. She has published five books for adults including a poetry collection, Conflict and Other Poems, a collection of short stories published by Longman in UK titled The Surrender and Other Stories, and a SELECTION of her radio talks under the title Friends, Nigerians, Countrymen , later retitled Sorry No Vacancy. Mabel Segun’s stories and poems have been published in over 30 anthologies in Nigeria and abroad. They have been translated into German, Danish, Norwegian, Greek and Serbo Croat. Two of her children’s books have been translated into Swahili and Arabic.

Mabel Segun showed early promise both as a writer and as a sportswoman at the newly founded University College, Ibadan where she was admitted in 1949 into the second set of students. She graduated in 1953 with a second class London Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, Latin and History. She was deputy editor and advertisement manager of the University Herald with Chinua Achebe, her classmate as editor, and contributed poems, short stories and articles to that pioneer students’ magazine. A short story, The Surrender , which she wrote in the year of her graduation won the maiden edition of the Nigerian Festival of the Arts Literature Prize the following year, 1954.

Table Tennis

Mabel Segun combines brain with brawn. The first Nigerian woman to play table tennis, she became an honorary male by entering for Men’s Singles tournaments and was awarded the University’s Table Tennis Half Colour.

This combination of her talents is borne out in her well-written book Ping Pong: Twenty-five Years of Table Tennis published in 1989 by Daystar Press, Ibadan. Her table-tennis career is studded with GOLD and silver medals, STARTING with the mixed doubles GOLD medal in the very first tournament played in Lagos in 1954, the women’s singles having been won by an English woman. Other medals include the following:

Gold medal, National Women’s Singles, 1957;
GOLDmedal, National Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles, 1963;
Silver medal, Women’s Team, West African Games, Accra, 1964;
GOLDmedal, Coca Cola All-Nigeria Women’s Singles and Mixed Doubles, 1967;
Silver medal, West African Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles
Gold medal, All-Nigeria Open Womens and Mixed Doubles, both of which she won in 1970 at the age of forty.
She also won several table tennis gold medals at Nigerian Regional Championships and a bronze medal in a new sport – badminton – in 1974 at the age of 44. . She won her last table tennis tournament -mixed doubles – and was runner up in the singles, in 1988 at the age of 58 playing against the girls of the University of Ibadan where she had been honorary coach for four years. That year her achievements as player, honorary coach and sports administrator, including a four-year spell as the only female MEMBER of the National Sports Commission Executive between !971 and 1975, were crowned with the prestigious National Sports Award. In 1996 she was made an honorary member of the Nigeria Olympic Committee for her contributions to the Nigeria Olympic Movement.

Literary Awards

2007 Joint Winner NLNG NIGERIA PRIZE for Literature.
2007 Honourable Mention Noma Award.
2005 Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors (FANA).
2004 Officer of the Federal Republic of NIGERIA (OFR) National Honour.
2004 The Woman Glass Ceiling Crasher Award, Women Writers of Nigeria.
2001 Most Distinguished Alumna Award (MDA), University of Ibadan.
2001 Most Distinguished Alumna Merit Award (MDA), University of Ibadan, Faculty of Arts.
2000 Association of Nigerian Authors Award PRESENTED on M. Segun’s 70th birthday.
1999 Pioneer Women Writers Award, Women Writers of Nigeria (WRITA).
1998 Association of Nigerian Authors (Oyo State Branch) Award.
1998 Academic Writers Meritorious Award, Association of Faculty of Arts Students, University of Ibadan.
1997 Certificate of Excellence, African Child Foundation, University of Ibadan.
1993 Fellowship of the International Youth Library, Munich, Germany.
1987 Honorary Life MEMBER, Association of Students of English, University of Ibadan.
1977 Radio Nigeria Artiste of the Year.
1954 Literature PRIZE, Maiden National Festival of the Arts.


Children’s Autobiographies

My Father’s Daughter

Lagos, African Universities Press, 1965

This story captures the essence of life in a small, rural society at the transitional stage between an animist past and a technological future. Unlike most of the works set in transitional African societies, the emphasis is not the stock-in-trade culture-clash. The focus HERE is on the balance which the community strives to achieve between man and nature, between man and man, regardless of differences in religious or cultural belief, and between parents and their offspring.

My Mother’s Daughter

Ibadan, African Universities Press, 1986

This is an absorbing story of a Nigerian woman who looks back on the joys, fears, and sorrows of her childhood days with implicit depth of gratitude to her childhood days with implicit depth and gratitude to her widowed mother to whom she feels overwhelmingly indebted for fighting against the forces of circumstances to set her on the right track to her PRESENTsocial status.

Adult Autobiography

Ping Pong: Twenty-Five Years of Table Tennis

Ibadan, Daystar, 1989

When Mabel Segun started playing Table Tennis in Lagos in 1946, she was the first Nigerian woman to be active in the sport. Playing, officiating and coaching led ultimately to the National Sports Award in 1988. There are people who know Mabel Segun as a writer and poet. But there are others who associate her name with Table Tennis; member of the Nigerian Table Tennis Association from 1965 to 1971 and of the National Sports Commission from 1971 to 1975.

Adult Works

Food Culture

Rhapsody: a Celebration of Nigerian Cooking and Food Culture

Lagos, Mabelline Publications, 2007

Rhapsody: A Celebration of Nigerian Cooking and Food CultureThis PRESENTATION of Nigerian food provides a wealth of multicultural information. This includes thought-provoking food-related proverbs, the motives behind food taboos and their dire penalties, the grandeur of yam and fishing festivals, food symbolism in child-naming ceremonies, rhapsodies by chanting food hawkers, the solemn kolanut ritual and delectable poems eulogizing certain foods. The introductions to the over eighty recipes are personal and humorous, often spiced with anecdotes about Nigerian idiosyncracies. The international relevance of the weights and measures used in the recipes makes them easy to use anywhere in the world.

Illustrating for Children

Ibadan, CLAN, 1988

llustrating for Children is the report of the first ever illustrators’ training workshop in NIGERIA. The workshop was designed to give graphic artists and illustrators the foundation for developing their visual communication skills in the area of children’s literature through theoretical instruction and guided practice.

This book will be useful to illustrators, authors, editors, publishers, production managers and all those concerned with the education of children not only in Nigeria but also in other African countries where there is a need to upgrade the visual PRESENTATION of children’s books.


Conflict and other Poems

Ibadan, New Horn Press, 1986

This volume brings together for the first time all the poems of Mabel Segun, one of the earliest Nigerian writers to gain recognition. They span a period of thirty years and reflect the evolution of history and consciousness in NIGERIA and Africa over that period. Many of the poems have widely anthologised and Mabel Segun’s directness of style makes her work readily accessible to a general audience of poetry readers.


Sorry, No Vacancy

Ibadan, Oxford University Press, 1977

In this collection, Mabel Segun has put together some of her most light-hearted and amusing stories about the Nigerian way of life. These were first broadcast in the NBC programmes Off Beat Views, In the Round, This and That, and Oddity between 1961 and 1974.

Her lively and witty anecdotes cover the whole range of Nigerian experience, from the pitfalls of applying for work and the joys of polygamy to the hazards of Lagos and the rewards of Independence.

Short Stories

The Surrender and other Stories

Essex, Longman Group Limited, 1995

In this collection of short stories, written over a time span of forty years, Mabel Segun portrays the situation of women in Nigerian societies showing some of the changes which have occurred in their status over the decades. All of life is here, from traditional rural life to contemporary cosmopolitan Lagos; from the vibrant nationalism of the days preceeding independence, to the horrors of the Civil War.

In all of these stories, Mabel Segun explores the emotions of both men and women, and examines the stresses and pressures of life that can so easily break the spirit.

The Surrender – the title story of this collection – won the 1954 National Festival of Arts Literature Prize


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