Joseph Udeze, Awka
Anambra State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Don Onyenji, has called for the reintroduction of Chinua Achebe’s magnum opus, ‘Things Fall Apart,’ into the secondary school curriculum.
Mr. Onyenji made the call in his office while speaking during a courtesy visit by members of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter), who visited him ahead of the 2023 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture.
He emphasized the enduring importance of ‘Things Fall Apart’, which has been translated into over 200 languages worldwide; even as he underscored the cultural and historical significance embedded in the literary masterpiece.
Onyenji advocated for the re-inclusion on the immortal novel in educational programs, not only in Anambra State but also beyond.
According to him, the novel serves as a powerful vehicle for preserving and promoting Igbo and African heritage. He further urged educational authorities to recognize the book’s value in shaping the cultural and historical consciousness of the younger generation, in addition to its didacticity.
The Commissioner also lauded the author of the seminal novel, Achebe, extolling his literary prowess, while also emphasizing the need for aspiring writers to emulate Achebe’s originality, creativity, and impactful storytelling.
Mr. Onyenji expressed commended the Anambra State young writers for the initiation of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture, acknowledging the importance of such events in fostering literary appreciation and creativity among the youth. He assured the young writers of Governor Soludo’s government’s commitment to supporting initiatives that promote cultural awareness, intellectuality, and literary excellence.
The Commissioner also encouraged the young writers to remain original in their narrative and tell their own story, echoing Achebe’s commitment to authentic storytelling. He also pledged solidarity, emphasizing the government’s keen interest in nurturing and supporting the creative endeavours of the young writers in the State and the Anambra youths at large.
Earlier speaking, the Coordinator of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter), Izunna Okafor, said the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture, which was started in 2016, is a literary event annually hosted in honour of Nigerian literary icon, late Prof. Chinua Achebe, in celebration of his life, works, legacies, and posthumous birthday.
He said the event, which is in its eighth edition now, will feature the 2023 Achebe Memorial Lecture, to be delivered by the 2023 Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Mr. Peter Obi. Other features of the event, according to him, include drama, open microphone, announcement of winners of Chinua Achebe Essay Writing Competition, award presentation, as well as the unveiling of the 8th Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, “Anthills of Words”, which is an international annual anthology of poems and essays published in honour of Achebe; among other literary packages.
Okafor added that this year’s event, themed “Ten Years After… Remembering Achebe’s Legacies in Today’s Nigeria” would hold on Achebe’s date of birth, November 16th, at the Prof. Kenneth Dike State Central E-Library, Awka, starting at 10.am.
While noting that one of the major aims of the event is to keep Achebe’s memory alive, Okafor, an award-winning writer, also re-echoed young writer’s commendation to the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo, for immortalizing the late literary icon by the renaming the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri, after him; a gesture he described as quite befitting and highly commendable.
Joined by Angel Chioma Kalu, Okafor also made a presentation of a recent edition of the Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, titled “Achebe the Soul Brother” to Commissioner Onyenji, on behalf of the association.