by Izunna Okafor
As the world celebrated the World Poetry Day 2020, young writers in Anambra State, under the umbrella of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, have reiterated a call for the immortalization of Chinua Achebe, one of Nigeria’s foremost literary figures.
The Coordinator of the association, Mr. Izunna Okafor, announced this during a one-day literary event organized by the association, in commemoration of the day in Anambra State.
The event, which held at the Anambra State Central E-Library, Awka on Saturday, was also used to mark the association’s March monthly reading, and also for remembering seven years of Achebe’s exit, who coincidentally died on World Poetry Day (21st March, 2013).
He disclosed that the association has been in the forefront in celebrating the legend, Achebe, and his works, through the annual “Chinua Achebe Literary Festival”, through the publication of annual poetry/essay anthology in his honor, and through organizing an annual secondary school essay writing competition (both in his honor), which he said, was recently endowed by the Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation. Those are just some of the numerous ways they keep Achebe’s memory alive, according to him.
According to him, the 2019 edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival birthed a very important anthology—“Arrows of Words”—and a six-point communiqué and recommendation, which the association sent (with accompanying letter) to the State Governor, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, and other concerned ministries and agencies of the State Government, for implementation.
He disclosed that the number-one item in the six-point communiqué (which he said they deliberately did not publish online for public consumption, until one month after the event) was the call for Chinua Achebe’s immortalization, as well as suggestions/recommendations on how that could be best done.
Okafor, an award-winning author and journalist, however, stated that, up till today, the State Government is yet to commence implementation of any of the items contained in the communiqué.
“The State Government needs not ignore or allow such a wonderful communiqué as that to die a natural death, as that would not be fair or encouraging to those who aspire to toe Achebe’s path,” he added.
He therefore reminded the State Government and other concerned authorities of the need to productively utilize the communiqué and immortalize Chinua Achebe, owing to his great contributions and legacies in the literary field, before bowing out seven years ago.
Others who spoke at the event—including the author of “Pregnancy of the gods” and Managing Director/Chief Creative Officer of Brande Aristotle Limited, Mr. Odili Ujubuońu; award-winning Journalist, Dr. Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, among others—tasked the young writers to be creatively inclined, and re-emphasized the inestimable importance of such literary gatherings to those who truly want to excel in the literary field.
The three-in-one event featured readings (both in honor of Achebe and the World Poetry Day), literary appreciation, observance of a minute silence in honor of Chinua Achebe’s soul, among other literary packages slated for the day.