During her career as a part-time storyteller, Onawumi has made content-rich, thought-provoking and entertaining presentations before inter-generational audiences across the U.S. and in the Netherlands. Her solo performances, workshops and keynotes, a seamless blend of story and a cappella singing, have consistently won high praise from audiences–kindergarten through college. The same is true of audience feedback from civic, community, religious and business sectors.
Onawumi's story programs inspire imagination, inquiry, reflection and expression and also complement the study of communications, the humanities, performance, the social sciences and history.
She is the first college administrator to have founded and consistently produced a multicultural storytelling festival (Keepers of the Word 1993-2006) - host to nearly sixty celebrated tellers of African, Asian, European, Hispanic, Latin and Native American heritage. In an unprecedented move, she was twice invited by Amherst College students to give story-based keynote addresses (1988 and 2004) at Senior Assembly (the only administrator ever accorded this honor.z
While cultivating her part-time career, Onawumi:
• made the PBS Special KWANZAA (1998) which showcases her masterful command of storytelling, narration and writing; and
• co-authored her first children's book, Precious and the Boo Hag with acclaimed author Patricia C. McKissack. Precious and the Boo Hag has received three starred reviews, is the winner of the 2006 ALA/ALSC Notable Children's Book award (Middle Readers category); is the national finalist for three prestigious national awards: the CCBC Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book Award; Storytelling World Award, Stories for Young Listeners Category (2006) and the Irma S. and James H. Black Honor for Excellence in Children's Literature Award (2006).
Onawumi is a 2005 recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston Storytelling Award (November 2005), the highest award given by the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS). She holds lifetime memberships in the National Storytellers Network (NSN) and the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS). She is also a member of the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling (LANES).