By JAPHET ALAKAM & EBELE ORAKPO
The Nigerian Book Foundation (NBF), a non-governmental, non-profit book development organisation with a commitment to indigenous book development, in conjunction with the Anambra State Government led by Governor Peter Obi, held its maiden Literary Festival at the Women Development Centre, Awka, Anambra State.
Convener of the festival and President of Nigerian Book Foundation, Professor Chukwuemeka Ike said the festival was part of activities lined up to immortalize the late literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe through the revival of literary creativity amongst Anambra people as NBF believes that books build the nation.
The event which was funded by Anambra State Government has as its highlight, speeches from different writers, parade of Anambra literary stars and presentation of books by different authors to Gov. Peter Obi.
Day One of the festival was essentially a strategy session, with speakers working around the theme, ‘Sustaining the Legacy of Literary Creativity’ in Anambra State. Key Note Address was by Prof. Alex Asigbo, Dean, Unizik Faculty of Arts. Papers were also presented by Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Prof. Rems Umeasiegbu and Dr. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh
The festival also featured traditional dances and acrobatics by Metu Memorial School, Onitsha, and Paul University Primary School, Awka.Exciting debates between Queen of the Rosary College, Onitsha and St. John of God Secondary School, Awka, showed that Anambra has tremendous youth potential waiting to be harnessed.
The second debate featuring Christ the King College, Onitsha, was hot, albeit one-sided since opponents DMGS failed to turn up.“Mock News in English (Unizik Primary School) and in Igbo, by Chidera Okoli of Community Secondary School, Ndikelionwu, kept the audience clapping as tomorrow’s broadcasters shone.
Distinguished Anambra writers including Eze Ndikelionwu, Eze Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike, Ikelionwu XI, Igwe Obosi HRH Chidubem Iweka, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Peter Nwankwo, Chimalum Nwankwo, Odili Ojubuonu, Osita Ike, Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, Rems Umeasiegbu, Obu Udeozo, Greg Mbajiorgu etc interacted with hundreds of school children in attendance each day at the Women Development Centre venue, of the well-received festival. They were all presented Certificates of Recognition as Anambra Literary Stars, by Gov. Peter Obi, who specially commended Eze Prof Ike for being an excellent, untiring role model and mentor to many people in the state and globally.
The event also had in attendance notable writer, Prof. Nwosu, Nollywood actor, Wasky Oguegbu, Rev. Father Joe Barth Abba among others.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Nigeria’s first academic Senior Advocate of Nigeria said the festival had the capacity to revive the dwindling culture of reading among the people.
Governor Peter Obi in his speech extolled the creative qualities of Anambra people both at home and in the diaspora and urged for sustenance. He described Igwe Iweka as a rare personality who combines the leadership of his people with creativity and called on today’s writers to impact such creative excellence on the Anambra child, saying that the society we abuse today shall take revenge on us tomorrow.
He regretted that the society was suffering from misplaced values; hence, those who ordinarily should be regarded as dregs of society are seen as role models. He explained that this was part of the reason he made value re-orientation an integral part of his administration.
Obi said that for Anambra State to regain its greatness, conscious effort must be made to rediscover those that had made epochal contributions to the advancement of civilization in all sectors.
Obi recalled how he looked for people like Prof. Chike Obi and how the Government continued to assist them till they died.
Prof. Ike expressed hope that the person to succeed Gov. Peter Obi would continue offering support to literary creativity and ennobling activities as Obi was doing.