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Writers urge Soludo to name Anambra Airport, ICC, after Achebe

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By Ifeanyi Ndukwe

Young writers in Anambra State, under the umbrella of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter) have begged the state Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo to immortalize the late literary icon, Late Prof. Chinua Achebe.

The State Cboordinator of the group, Izunna Okafor made the call at the 2022 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture recently organized by the association in Awka, Anambra State capital.

Okafor, while describing the Anambra-born legendary author, Achebe, as a great literary export and pride of the state said it is unfair and unpleasant to the ear that the literary crackerjack who died since 2013 (9 years ago) does not have any single monument named after him in his homestate, despite his literary feats and legacies which the humanity and the society at large benefit from today.

He regretted that the rich and the politicians are more regarded, celebrated and immortalized in Nigeria today than intellectuals, and warned that such is highly contributory to the societal malady, change in the value system, and the ever-increasing rate of crimes in the society today.

According to him, intellectuals, such as Achebe, should be highly regarded and celebrated, to serve as motivation to the young ones and others who wish to toe their path.

He re-echoed the association’s earlier call on the state government to name the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri, and the newly-commissioned International Conference Centre in Awka after Achebe.

Okafor, an award-winning author and journalist, also urged the government to establish an international writers residency in honour of Achebe, as there are only two (privately-owned) writers residencies in the entire country.

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He disclosed that the annual Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture, which the association initiated in 2016, and the Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology which is an international anthology of poems and essay the association publishes annually in honour of Achebe are their own little ways of immortalizing the legend; even as he called on the state government to assist in the sponsorship of the event annually and to also turn it into a full-blown tourist attraction; as the event already attracts writers and participants from different countries of the world.

 

Okafor who recalled that Anambra State has produced many great literary figures (both old and young), also urged Governor Soludo to appoint some aides on Literary Matters, to serve as a link between the government and writers in the state.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Occasion and National Vice President of Ọhaneze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, described Achebe as a legend worth celebrating, and hailed Anambra young writers for initiating and sustaining the event over the past seven years and still counting. He enumerated some outstanding qualities that defined Achebe’s exemplary lifestyle and personality, and advised the students to emulate the great African writer.

Delivering the 2022 Achebe Lecture, a veteran author and journalist, Mr. Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, who x-rayed Achebe’s life and works vis-a-vis their impacts and significance, said he “lived in glory as the one-man institution who conquered the world for Mother Africa.”

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On his own part, the MD/CEO, Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, Sir Chuka Nnabuife said he holds Achebe and the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture to a great esteem, which, he said, has made him to miss every other event that falls in the same day with it, since the last four years now and still counting.

 

While commending the organizers, he also congratulated the writers from different countries of the world who contributed poems and essays in the 7th edition of the Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology unveiled that day at the event.

Themed “Literature, Intellectuals and National Development: The Achebe Model”, the well-attended event was graced by the first female Professor of Mass Communication in Sub-saharan Africa, Prof. Stella Okunna; the State Commissioner for Culture, Entertainments and Tourism, Mr. Don Onyenji; the State Commissioner for Information, Sir Paul Nwosu; the Traditional Ruler of Obosi, H.R.H. Igwe Chidubem Iweka; public affairs analyst, Sir Dennis Ekemezie; and award-winning author and actor, Reginald Chinedu Ofordile, among other dignitaries.

Aside special presentations by schools and individuals, other highpoints of the event include recognition of the entrants for the 7th Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, announcement of the winners of the 2022 Chinua Achebe Students Essay Competition (organised by the young writers), and the official unveiling of the 7th Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, entitled “Achebe the Soul Brother” (edited by Izunna Okafor), among other highlights.

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