The capital city of Anambra State, Awka was yesterday thrilled and overwhelmed as the Anambra State Chapter of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers Anambra State Chapter held a one-day literary program in the memory of Late. Prof Chinua Achebe.
This great monumental event with the tag “REMEMBERING CHINUA ACHEBE: A LITERARY ICON” which was the first of its kind was held by the Anambra State Chapter of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, in collaboration with the Anambra State Library Board.
The event which took place on Achebe’s date of birth (16th day of November 2016) was held at the auditorium hall of the Prof. Kenneth Dike E-Library Awka Anambra State.
In his opening remarks, Izunna Okafor, the coordinator of the event who is also the Anambra State Coordinator of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers and a well known young Nigerian writer, noted that the main aims of the event were to recognize, celebrate, commemorate and honor the life, works, contributions, achievements and legacies of the great Literary Icon – late Prof. Chinua Achebe – who was born on the 16th day of November 1930 and died on the 21st day of March 2013.
“Achebe was born on a great day like this in the year 1930 and died on the 21st day of March 2013 at the age of 82 years, 125 days; spending about 30, 076 days in his whole life, with laudable achievements and legacies of which the whole world is reaping today in our own generation,” said the coordinator, Izunna Okafor.
The event attracted over two hundred participants drawn from students, lecturers, top government functionaries, young and established writers, artists, readers, journalists, publishers, teachers, librarians, poets and other members of the public, from both far and near to witness the event and celebrate Achebe.
In the list of guests were the Honorable Commissioner For Education in Anambra State, Prof. Kate Omenugha; Dr. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh of the faculty of Arts ANSU; Rev. Prof. Anayo Kamnebe (the Dean faculty of Mgt. Sc. Unizik); the SSA to the Governor on Youth Mobilization and Empowerment Engr Tony Uche Ezekwelu; Mr. Okeke Chika Jerry (author/publisher); Mr. Tony Akudinobi (author/art maker); Isidore Uzoatu (author), among other numerous guests.
The event featured lectures, poem recitation, poetry performance, book dramatization, essay presentation, artwork exhibition, questions and answers, entertainment, certificates/awards presentation, launching of the Society’s first poetry/essay anthology, plus the host of other literary spices with which the event was garnished – all in the memory of Achebe.
The audience were also thrilled by a visual art display/poetry performance by a young talented artist Mr. Uche Ezeemo as he drew a purely identical portrait picture of late prof. Chinua Achebe within a couple of 5 minutes, under the melodic background tone of his poetic partner Chioma who demonstrated and wooed the audience as she sang for him to draw.
There were also recognition and reward of those who submitted entries in the “CALL FOR SUBMISSION: IN THE MEMORY OF ACHEBE” which was opened online (between 1st to 30th October) in the memory of the legend to mark this venerable occasion, and which attracted over 50 submissions from within and outside Nigeria, including submissions from Zimbabwe, America and South Africa.
The best ten entries were also announced at the event with special recognition to the authors.
“Indeed, Events like this worth sustenance, great support and consistent encouragement as it would continue to serve as a catalyst to spring up the spirit and the zeal of achievements in the lives of the students, youths and the members of the public in general”
Mr. Okeke Chika Jerry noted during his interactive lecture with the participants.
On his own part, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Mobilization and Empowerment – Engr Tony Uche Ezekwelu avowed his readiness and that of his office in supporting events like that especially when they coming from the youths themselves, who are the futures of tomorrow.
He also promised to ensure that the event is celebrated annually so as to keep the pace intact and ensure that Anambra State continues to remain on the front line in the case of literary activities in Nigeria, setting the standards for others to follow.
Also filled with joy that this great initiative was coming from young people, Rev. Prof. Kamnebe Anayo represented by Mr. Nnamdi Osondu commended the organizers of the monumentally memorial event for their great initiative and reechoed the old century dictum that great events like that worth sustenance and encouragement.
Secondary school students who also presented literary works in the memory of Achebe were also encouraged and advised to sustain and uphold their love and passion for literary works and at the same time, never despise their studies, but aspire to make the best out of it.
Among the secondary schools from Awka who made presentations at the event were: Igwwbuike Grammar School Awka, Kenneth Dike Memorial Secondary School Awka, St. John of God Secondary School Awka, Community Secondary School Okpuno, National Secondary School Awka, Faith Model Secondary School Awka and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University High School Awka.
Each of the School which participated in the event was issued with a Certificate of Participation.
In the same vein, the entrants who submitted the ten outstanding entries were equally issued with Certificates of Achievement.
According to Comr. Ibiam Ufiem Ude who is the editor of the SYNW Anambra Chapter and who also headed the judging panel; all the entries received were quite outstanding, but after series of logical vetting and in-depth scrutiny, the committee were able to elicit the under listed titles and names as those who finally made it to the list:
1. Good Night by Paul Abiola Oku-Ola (LAGOS)
2. Strategies for Maximizing Achebe’s Literary Writing, By Udosoh Anyanime (LAGOS).
3. Usman Nurain Muhammad (ABU, ZARIA).
4. In his Valour By Nzoputachi Samuel E. (AWKA)
5. My Legendary – Achebe By Ifeoma Isabella Okeke (LAGOS).
6. Achebe’s Bone By Agele Ayowole (ONDO).
7. Dimples of Freedom by Mbizo Chirasa (ZIMBABWE).
8. Chinua Achebe: A man by Nwanne Agwu. (ABAKALIKI)
9. Chinua Achebe: Beyond A Legend, By Dr. Onah Stanley Kenechukwu (ANAMBRA)
10. May God fight on my behalf by Agholor Henry Nduka (OAU OSUN).
“The order of arrangement is not significant on the list. And mind you also that releasing these ten entries never meant that others are not outstanding; we are only keeping our promise of fetching out the top ten.
“So, all the entries are quintessentially outstanding and we shall publish all of them online as well” the judge noted.
In her note of appreciation, the acting Director of the Kenneth Dike E-Library Awka, Miss Nkechi Udeze, appreciated the whole participants, who understood the value of the event and deemed it fit to come from far and near to witness the monumental occasion.
“This is the first edition of this epoch-making and groundbreaking event -“Remembering Chinua Achebe: A literary Icon” as being celebrated by the Society of Young Nigerian Writers Anambra State Chapter” Izunna Okafor (the coordinator) reiterated during his closing remarks.
“And the second (next year’s) edition of it is expected to be much greater and mightier than this, as the Lord strengthens us by his Grace” he concluded as he assigned the onus of earlier publicity to Ojiego Austine Chidiebere who is the Director of Media, Society of Young Nigerian Writers Anambra State Chapter.
BioL Izunna Okafor is 300 level student of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He writes creative fiction and non-fiction. He has won and been nominated for various writers awards. Some of these include the NYSC Essay Competition 2012, NWA/Indigenous writer of the year 2016, SYNW/Pita Nwana prize for Igbo Literature 2015, Nigerian Heritage Icon Award/ Writer of the year 2016, SLAM Youth Hero Award/Innovative Youth of the year, AEYC/Writer of the Year, Outstanding Youth of the Year, Ark Foundation Youth Competition 2016, NAPAS/ Award for Academic Excellence 2016,and others.