Encomium, As Anambra Young Writers Celebrate Achebe In Awka
It was indeed a moment of panegyrics as writers thronged in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State to celebrate one of the world's most famous writers and Africa's most widely read author, late Prof. Chihua Achebe.
The event known as the 2018 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival, with the tag: "Remembering Chinua Achebe: A Celebration of a Literary Star" was organized by the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra State Chapter in collaboration with the Prof. Kenneth Dike Central E-Library, in celebrationof the great literary crackerjack, Achebe, and marking of his 88th posthumous birthday.
Delivering a keynote lecture titled "Chinua Achebe: The Literary Icon And His Ụkwụta Azụ", the keynote speaker at the event, Prof. Ifeyinwa Ogbazi of Unizik (who is also a connoisseur in the literary field) went down memory lane on Achebe's life as a writer, to exhumate his heroic deeds and inputs towards restoring the Glory of African continent.
Referentiallly touring round Achebe's books, Prof. Ogbazi described him as a nationalist who did not only fight colonialism and racism in Africa with his pen as a writer, but also projected the beauty of Africa through his books, and left great legacies; hence worth to be celebrated, as his luminous life and gargantuan vestiges can never be forgotten in a hurry .
In her own speech, while declaring the event open, the Honourable Commissioner for Basic Education in the state, Prof. Kate Omenugha described the event as apt and worth celebrating, owing to the fact that Achebe was not only a model but also a literary giant whose works brought Igbo Culture to the fore as well as attempt solving numerous problems confronting humanity.
Quoting a National Light Newspaper's publication of 15th November 2018, Prof. Omenugha, who was represented by the Head of Department, Educational Services in the ministry, Mrs. Vera Ogbalu and the Public Relations Officer of the ministry, Mr. Nnaemeka Egwuonwu, reminded the participants that 16th November is a landmark date in Anambra State, being a day that brings together (by birthday) at least three of the Africa's most outstanding figures of the 20th century, being late Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, late Prof. Chinua Achebe and late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who all hailed from Anambra State.
She therefore eulogized the organizers of the first ever literary festival in honour of the legendary Achebe, even as she called for sustenance of such a great initiative.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Coordinator of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter), Mr. Izunna Okafor said the primary reason behind the annual event was to celebrate the literary figure and his literary vigour in a literary way, so as to keep his literary deeds ever green as well as impact on the young ones who would also want to trail his path.
He enumerated some of the leviathan achievements of the great literary star, which he argued indeed worth remembering and celebrating, hence the initiation of the literary festival which he said started since 2016, and was in its third edition.
For the acting director of the Prof. Kenneth Dike Central E-Library, Dr. Nkechi Udeze, the event indeed worth celebrating, being a best way to honour and commemorate such a great fallen hero, as well as mold another bunch of intellectuals who will take over.
In their separate speeches, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of the National Light Newspaper, Sir Chuka Nnabuife; the Dean Faculty of Arts Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh (represented by Mr. Bryan Udeh); the author of The Last Carver', Rev. Fr. Ositadimma Amakeze; and the Senior Special Assistant to the Anambra State Governor on Social Orientation, Dr. Mitchelle Onugbelu showered panegyrics on the great star, Achebe, who they described as a blessing to Africa and the world in general, citing the different dimensions in which he and his works inspired them.
Aside poetry performances and other literary activities used to garnished the event, it also featured essay writing competition amongst secondary, in which Nwachi Rejoice of Faith Model Secondary School Awka; Obi Amarachi Maryann of St. John of God Secondary School Awka; Okeke Chito Angel of Nnamdi Azikiwe University High School Awka; Eze Emmanuel Chisom of Kenneth Dike Memorial Secondary School Awka, and Onuekwe Amara G. of St. Lucy International Secondary School Awka emerged the first, second, third, fourth and fifth prize winners respectively.
The event also featured award ceremony, unveiling and launching of the Third Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, as well as the announcement of the poets/authors of the best 10 poems and essays (respectively) published in the anthology, which received submissions from writers across the world, all written in memory of Chinua Achebe.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion include the Honourable Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artwork, Culture and Tourism, Barr. Mrs. Sally Mbanefo; the MD/Ceo of Naira Rice Nig. Ltd. Mr. Arinze Omenwa; the MD/Editor-in-Chief, Explorer Magazine, Mr. Tobenna Obiano.