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Celebrating Young Nigerian Writer and Journalist, Izunna Okafor At 26

By The Nigerian Voice
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It is with a thankful heart of joy that young Nigerian Writer and Journalist, Izunna Okafor excelled unto his 26th rung in the ladder of years.

This was contained in a statement issued by the celebrant, Okafor, who celebrated his silver jubilee last year, being a fellow of January 9th 1994.

Recalling and recounting how hideous it was for him in his early years, particularly in his teens; Okafor, an award-winning said his life was indeed a testimony, and also appreciated God for His marvelous work and infinite mercies.

He went memory lane to narrate how he studied his primary school (at the Community Primary School, Ebenator) and some parts of his secondary school (at the Community Secondary School, Ebenator) barefooted, and with tattered school uniform, to the credit of his family's background.

According to him, being a son of a palm-wine tapper, hunter and electrician in a rural village; he started struggling his way out early in life, precisely during his secondary days when he began to do some handiworks, such as cutting palmnut, clearing bushes for farmers, tilling the ground/farmland, packing/dumping sands (in rivers), among things.

It was from these, which he said he was doing after school hours, that he saved money to publish his first book —Ikem's Adventure— back then in 2012 during his secondary school days —a single act that did not only pave way for metamorphosis in the taste of his life story, but also eventually landed him on the track of greatness where he rides and resides till date.

Born (9th January 1994) to the family of Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Susan Okafor Udeze in Ebenator, Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Izunna Okafor, is an award-winning young Nigerian Novelist, Poet, Essayist, Journalist, Editor, Translator, Publicist, Igbo Language Activist and an Administrator.

He graduated from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, where he studied Public Administration. He also holds O.N.D in Public Administration from the same school.

A published and best-selling author, Izunna books include 'Ikem's Adventure' (his first book) published in Nigeria in 2012, during his secondary school; 'The Curse of A Widow' (his second novel), published in 2013; 'The Faithful Children' (his third book), published in 2014, and won Outstanding recognition in the Ezenwa Ohaeto Prize for Young Nigerian Novelists 2015; 'Ajọ Enyi,' his debut Igbo novel and fourth book, published in 2015.

With 'Ajo Enyi', he won the 2015/2016 Nigerian Writers Award/Indigenous Writer of the Year; the 2015 Society of Young Nigerian Writers Award/Pita Nwanna Award for Igbo Literature; and also got shortlisted for The 2015 Young Nigerian Writer of The Year, and the 2017 Nigerian Writers Award.

His other books include "African Blood" (A Short Story), "Nzúzù M Egbuo M," (Igbo novel), "Educated Illiterate," and "Teach Me Grammar."

He has been published in many anthologies, both nationally and internationally; has thousands of articles/essays as well as poems and short stories published online to his credit.

A diglot writer, Izunna writes perfectly in Igbo and English languages, and has published widely in both languages.

He has won and been nominated for a plethora of awards which include:

The Nigerian Writers Award/Indigenous Writer of The Year 2015/2016

Pita Nwana Prize For Igbo Literature 2015
Society of Young Nigerian Writers Award Nigeria
Heritage Icon Award/Young Writer of the Year Federal Republic of Nigeria 2016

Merit Award from The Society of Young Nigerian Writers (2016)

Award of Recognition From Students Union Government, Unizik (2017)

Nigerian Writers Award/Young Writer of The Year 2015/2016

N.Y.S.C. Essay Competition 2012
SLAM Hero Youth International Award/Innovative Youth of the Year 2016

Anambra Exclusive Youth Choice Award/Youth Writer of the Year 2016

Award of Academic Excellence from The National Association of Public Administration Students (2016)

Inspire Award /Outstanding Youth in Academics 2017
NAPAS Academic Icon of The Year 2017
Anambra Campus Award 2017/Campus Writer of The Year 2017

Award of Excellence from The Society of Young Nigerian Writers 2016

Anambra Exclusive Youth Choice Award/Outstanding Youth of the Year 2017

Youth Writer of The Year 2016 NAPAS Essay Competition 2017

Starlett Entertainment Award/Creative Writer of the Year 2016

Young Author Award, 2018
Creative Crew Africa/Young Talent of The Year 2018, among others

Campus Best Writer 2018/Campus Best Journalist of the Year 2018

Best Secretary General of NAPAS (2018)
Young Achievers Award/Best Young Writer of the Year 2019.

He also has numerous Certificates of Merit, Award, Recognition, the most recent of which include:

Certificate of Recognition From The ImpactField Global Initiative (2018)

Certificate of Award from the Applex Art and Creative Crew Africa (2018) among others.

At the age of 21, Izunna was nominated for The Future Award Africa 2016/African Prize For Education, which is the biggest and most prestigious African Youth Award.

He has been published in many literary magazines, websites, and blogs.

Aside being a creative writer, Izunna is also an Igbo Language Activist who has played and continued to play great roles in sustaining and promoting the Igbo Language and culture. He preaches and takes the 'gospel' of Igbo language and the need for its sustenance to ever nook and cranny, ranging from schools to churches, Radio/Television Stations, and to other public places, being part if his own contribution and strategic measures to ensure that the Igbo Language does not go extinct as predicted by the UNESCO in 2012.

He has also been featured in many radio and television stations across the country on this mission.

Some of his debut articles like 'Say No To Igbo Extinction' and 'Asụsụ Igbo Amaka' among others, have also contributed immensely in this cause and in peaking the clarion call for Igbo Language sustenance.

In addition to these, Izunna is also a renowned journalist and columnist currently working with the Anambra Newspaper and Printing Coporation, the publishers of National Light Newspaper, Ka Ọ Dị Taa —which is the only Igbo Language Newspaper in Nigeria —and Sportslight Xtra.

He also writes for Igbo Radio which is an online Igbo Language news hub with its headquarter in Canada, as well as freelance for other media/publishing houses, both the online and print media.

Izunna is the Coordinator of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers q (Anambra State Chapter), as well as the founder/initiator of the "Chinua Achebe Literary Festival," which is an annual literary event he organizes in memory of Late Prof. Chinua Achebe, under the umbrella of Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra Chapter.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology which is an anthology annually published in honour of Nigerian literary star, Late Prof. Achebe, and which attracts entries and submissions from different countries of the world. The most recent of these anthologies is the "Arrows of Words" which was published in 2019, during the year's edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival.

During his undergraduate days, Izunna was part of the editorial team of the FAMASSA Magazine.

He is Ambassador of TFA Africa in Nigeria; the ambassador of Read Across Nigeria in Anambra State.

An alumnus of Unizik, he is also a former Secretary General of the National Association of Public Administration Students (NAPAS), as well as the current National Secretary General of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers.

In 2019, Izunna met and discussed literature with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, at a literary evening that climaxed the 2019 Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop, organized by the international literary figure, Adichie.