DAY AMERICA REMEMBERED FLORA NWAPA
In commemoration of Women`s History Month and on the eve of International Women`s Day, an international tribute was organized by The Flora Nwapa Society co-founded by Dr. Marie Linton Umeh, a distinguished professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York and author of the book entitled Flora Nwapa – A Pen and A Press.
Barrister Ugoji Adanma Eze Esq, the CEO/Founder of Engr. Aja Eze Foundation, Cynthia M. Horner, magazine editor/publicist and CEO of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc; Yasmn Wasti and Zeinab-the CEO of House of Travel,Inc. and co-founders of Domestic Harmony Foundation; African Views network; Marie Claudine Mukamambano, the founder of Kukindiho Rwanda Orphans Support Project; the African Union and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on March 7, 2011 at the African Union House to honour the legacy of Flora Nwapa Nwakuche.
Flora Nwapa (1931-1993) was a great educator, administrator, activist, humanitarian, the first African woman to be a publisher and own her own publishing house or press. Her first novel, Efuru was published in 1966 by Heinemann publishing company. In his libation to the memory of Professor Flora Nwapa, His Excellency, Ambassador Remongar Dennis, the deputy permanent representative of Liberia to the United Nations, eulogized Flora Nwapa for naming her press, Tana Press, after falling in love with River Tana in Tanzania.
He said, 'Flora Nwapa as an intellectual, travelled wide and far, she taught people and she also gained a lot of knowledge from the people at the places she visited. She fell in love with River Tana in Tanzania and she named her press Tana Press as an allegory to the river. As the water in the river flows, so should knowledge be flowing and be passed down from one generation to another by reading a book.'
Dr. Umeh described Nwapa as an activist, who, as a Commissioner for Health, Establishment, Lands and Survey in Enugu from 1970-1975, was committed to reuniting children with their families who were lost or have migrated to other places of the world during the civil war in Nigeria between Nigerian and Biafran soldiers. She believed children should live with their families who will nurture them to be responsible citizens in the community instead of living as numbers in orphanages.
Barrister Ugoji Eze remembered Flora Nwapa as her parents' friend and a great educator in Nigeria. Dr. Sabine Jell-Bahlsen, a renowned anthropologist, author and film producer eulogized Flora Nwapa as a detribalized Nigerian woman who was a trailblazer in literary world.' I was living and studying in Nigeria while Flora was living and studying in Scotland so we had like an exchange programme between both of us so we became close.'
Minister Plenipotentiary (Economic Affairs) of Tanzania, Modest J. Mero, spoke on African women, like Nwapa, who broke barriers in their various field and became role models for the other women in their generation and the next generation. Dr. Ngozi Achebe, a physician and author of the wave making novel, Onaedo paid her glowing tribute to Nwapa, who she used to call 'Aunty Flora', as a little girl in the company of her parents and her uncle, the legendary Chinua Achebe.
Olutosin Mustapha, the founder of Afro Heritage Venture, a 501 (c)(3) organization committed to improving education and culture in New York City and also the publisher of the New York City based Afro Heritage magazine whose slogan is Our Heritage, Our Pride, Our Future said: 'It is interesting to know that the great Nwapa, who I wanted to be like as a little girl also attended Queens College Lagos between 1951-1952; so, she was an OGQC just like me.'
The Deputy Consul-General of Antigua and Barbuda in New York, Honorable Omyma David, also paid great tribute to Nwapa, describing her as 'an achiever and role model to women all over the world.' Many guests, including the wife of the Algerian Ambassador to the United Nations, Queen Mother Dr. Deloise Blakely, who is a honorary mayor of Harlem, Dr. Remi, Hajia Fatima from Sudan and other speakers were not left out in the eulogy.
The ceremony was later in the evening at the Nigeria House President's Hall honouring people who have contributed to the literary community; peace and conflict resolutions; anthropology; women empowerment; education; youth development, and family unity, which were Flora Nwapa`s legacy, were honored. The Permanent Representative of Finland to United Nations, Jarmo Viinanen, was the chairman of the ceremony. He encouraged women to mentor and support each other. Some of the honorees were Ambassador Joy Ogwu, Nigeria's Permanent Representative to the UN, who dedicated her award to all the women in this world; Princess Olutosin Mustapha for her outstanding contributions to journalism in the international community and education of youth through her programmes and publication, Afro Heritage, and Dr. Seline Jell- Bahlsen.
Olutosin Mustapha in her acceptance speech quoted Frederick Douglass when he visited President Abraham Lincoln in the White House: 'Those who put sunshine into the lives of others will always have sunshine in their own lives….'