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Late Prof. Chinualumogu Achebe
An appeal was on Tuesday made to the Anambra State Government to immortalise Prof Chinua Achebe for his legendary work in literary Art. The Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra chapter, made the plea during the 6th edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture held in Awka on Tuesday.
Mr. Izunna Okafor, Chairman of the society, while speaking at the occasion, said that it would be great if the government renamed the newly-commissioned Anambra International Airport after Achebe for his great personality deserved such a recognition.
He said that the theme for 2021 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture, “Remembering Achebe In A Time Like This”, was apt just as he remembered his words and predictions long time ago; ‘The happenings of this present time, ever deteriorating standard of leadership, the unimaginable quest for power in our society today, the need to respect, honour and value intellectuals in a time like this’.
Said Okafor: “Achebe’s absence and the need for more people like him in a time like this, and such other realities that necessitate remembering Achebe, his works, his words, his actions and his personality characterised by patriotism, dignity, equity, justice and strong hatred for corruption”.
Okafor urged the government to establish Chinua Achebe Writers Residency, since Achebe himself was a beneficiary and fellow of other writers residences in other countries of the world before his demise.
Noted he: “There is only one Writers Residency in Nigeria, Ebedi Writers Residency in Iseyi, Oyo State, privately owned by Dr. Wale Okediran, therefore it will not be overdoing to also immortalise him with one.
He requested that the government appointed aides on Literary Matters who would stand as a bridge between writers both young and established and the state government.
Held he: “Anambra has many exportable brands of star writers and deserves to create such a vital office to encourage and empower them both intellectually and financially.
“This will also help to raise other Achebes who will replace the man whose honour we are hear today for”.
The association, in collaboration with the Anambra State Library Board, under the leadership of Dr. Nkechi Udeze, orgainsed a maiden memorial lecture, poetry performance, unveiling of Chinua Achebe Poetry Essay Anthology to celebrate the man, Achebe.
Udeze said that the celebration of Achebe’s excellence was worth doing, so as to encourage young people to have the culture to work hard.
She appealed to the young people to develop interest in writing and reading culture so as to bring out the inner talents to enrich themselves and to bless humanity.
In his keynote address, Mr. Chuka Nnebuife, an author, artist, journalist and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, described Achebe as a writer, social crusader, scholar, linguistic stylist, and forerunner.
Nnabuife said that Achebe was an iconic name in Africa as well as world literature, a writer committed to the social emancipation of marginalised and down-trodden people.
Noted Nnabuife: “He believes that serious writers should have a sense of responsibility to enhance the quality of humanity by way of exposing all man-made suppression and oppression in society.
“Achebe is a crusader against colonialism that enslaved the African countries and their people, he is opposed to the injustice and atrocities perpetrated by colonial rulers.
“He wants to awaken the African people to rise up against the onslaught of colonialism in future. Nigerians are what they are only because their leaders are not what they should be”.
Earlier, Prof. Peter Umeadi, chairman of the occasion, and a former Chief Judge of Anambra State, advised the young writers present at the event to imbibe the serenity of the library as it would aid their literary life.
Umeadi commended Anambra State library for its partnership with the society of young writers as it would help in speeding up the writing and reading culture of young people.
Igwe Chidubem Iweka III, traditional ruler of Obosi, who is also a writer and author, rendered a poem titled “When will the Messiah come and Where is your hair, use it to encourage the young people to take their destiny by their own hands”.
Iweka cautioned the people on the use of hard drugs, saying such habits would only lead to their destruction.
Prof. Stella Okunna, first female professor of Mass communication, Mr Camilus Ukah, National President Association of Nigerian Authors, Mr Bob-Immanuel Udokwu, Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Willie Obiano on Creative Art, Dr Paul Ifeanyi, Senior Special Assistant to Obiano on Secondary School Education, Mrs. Ifeayinwa Uzoka, an author, all attended the event.
Some schools were present and made a lot of poem and drama presentations. The schools include Igwebuike Grammar School, Nnamdi Azikiwe High School, Kenneth Dike Secondary School, and Community Secondary School, Okpuno, amongst others.
Such students as Mr. Uzoegbu Kenechukwu, Mike Nnamani and Hope Chidera who spoke, expressed happiness being part of the 2021 celebration.
The late Chinua Achebe was born on November 16, 1930, and died on March 21, 2013, at the age of 82 years.