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By NBF News
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Prof. Okafor
In the international literary arena, his name rings a bell and back home in Nigeria he is a personality of high repute. But Prof Chinua Achebe, who is one of the rare living icons in the country, has continuously refused to take a national award given to him by the Federal Government, citing the sorry state of things in the country as his excuse.

However, this emeritus professor of English, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and now of the Brown University, New York, USA, has given firm words to the Faculty of Arts, UNN, which has scheduled an international conference and Chinua Achebe Annual Lectures, beginning from January 30, 2012 that he would surely be with them during the period.

Prof. Edwin E. Okafor, Dean, Faculty of Arts, UNN, who led a team of academics organising the conference and lecture series, comprising the Chairman, Local Organising Committee, Fr. Dr. Ikechukwu Orjinta; Kingsley O. Ugwuanyi (Secretary, LOC); Oyibo Eze (Chairman, Publicity Sub-committee); and Prof. Christian Onyeji (Chairman, Fund Raising Sub-committee) told Daily Sun that Achebe had written to confirm his coming to Nigeria in January to attend the conference and inauguration of the lecture series.

He, however, said they were in Enugu to essentially to make appeal to well-meaning Nigerians to come to the rescue of the faculty by donating funds for the staging of the international conference and inauguration of Chinua Achebe Annual Lectures with theme 'Emergent Issues in Humanities in Africa in the Third Millennium.'

Explaining why they decided to stage the conference, Okafor said that the Faculty of Arts of the institution is a creative faculty and would use the opportunity to showcase the talents they have in the faculty. Excerpts:

Make up of our Faculty of Arts
It is made up of central arts disciplines analyze, synthesize and project events, issues and societal minds.

Within the Faculty we have such disciplines such as Fine and Applied Arts, Music, Theatre and Film Studies, Linguistics, Igbo and other Nigerian Languages, Foreign Languages and Literary Studies and English and Literary Studies.

These as I pointed out above are creative discipline and it is odd to fine creative minds that do not showcase their products. It is when your creative works are showcased, viewed and appreciated that the artist would be said to have achieved his or her goal of affecting his\her audience.

Showcasing talents and our upcoming conference
The major avenues artists in the universities use to showcase their products are through conferences - local and international.

The forthcoming international conference of our Faculty is targeting this objective. Unfortunately, our Faculty made the last outing on this line and level in 1989; 22 years ago. And since then for one reason or the other, it has not been possible for us to showcase our rich academic harvests in an international forum such as we are planning.

Our choice of Achebe
Again, our Faculty has some sense of responsibility to guide and remind our people of their responsibility and expectations. We have sons and daughters who have distinguished themselves above most other people locally and internationally; such as Professor Chinua Achebe by inaugurating annual lecture series in his honour.

The non-establishments of such lectures and honour to Professor Chinua Achebe by us till now is a huge oversight which has to be corrected with deep sense of apology.

Happily Professor Chinua Achebe is a very fair and open-minded scholar. The excitement and promptness with which he accepted our proposal show that he is Igbo to the core. He will participate at this conference: his family will be there with him. We are looking forward that all illustrious sons and daughters of Igbo land will come to the University of Nigeria Nsukka during the conference to give honour to whom is due.

The cream of the Igbo leadership is expected at the forefront of this event because the conference by this theme is going to examine aspects of Igbo leadership. Some sensitive aspects of the conference theme are gender issues, which in our culture is a thorny one.

We are hopeful that the outcome of the conference is going to be landmark in our views and approach to societal values and issue.