HISTORY will again be made on Monday, November 16, 2020, as young writers in Anambra State set to mark Achebe’s 90th posthumous birthday with a literary festival and maiden memorial lecture.
The event, Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Maiden Memorial Lecture, is organised by the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra State Chapter, in memory of Chinua Achebe, a renowned Nigerian literary icon, also reputed to be the father of African Literature.
According to the coordinator of the society, Izunna Okafor, the Maiden Chinua Achebe Memorial Lecture, which is the first of its kind, will be delivered at the 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival.
He noted that the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival, which started in 2016, and which is its fifth edition, will feature lectures in memory of Achebe, dramatising Achebe’s selected books, open microphone/spoken word poetry, announcement of the winners of the 2020 Chinua Achebe Essay Writing Competition (sponsored by the Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, for secondary school students), art exhibition, award presentation, among other literary packages slated for the date.
The annual event, he noted, will also feature the official unveiling and presentation of the Fifth Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, entitled “Achebe: A Man of the People” (which is the association’s newest collection of poems and essays published in honour of Achebe). The annual international anthology, which is used to immortalise Achebe, Okafor says, contains poems and essays and reviews written and submitted by writers from different countries of the world, in response to a ‘Call For Submission’ earlier made by the association.
Izunna Okafor, who is also the initiator of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival, further disclosed that the 2020 Literary Festival, themed, “Chinua Achebe: Our Heritage in a New Normal” which is done in collaboration with Anambra State Library Board, will take place on Achebe’s date of birth (November 16) at the state library, in Awka, Anambra, Achebe’s home-state, starting from 10 am.
In his word: “The Maiden Chinua Achebe Memorial Lecture will be delivered at the event by Oseloka Henry Obaze, who is a very good friend of Achebe, a writer, art enthusiast and former Secretary to the State Government in Anambra State; under the distinguished chairmanship of the MD/CEO, Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, Sir Chuka Nnabuife, who is also an author, art curator and award-winning journalist.”
The lecture is expected to be declared open by Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, who will grace the occasion as the Chief Guest of Honour; while Prof. Peter Umeadi, art enthusiast and former Chief Judge of Anambra State will be a Special Guest of Honour.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (award-wining global literary icon), Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (NLNG prize-winning author), Uzor Maxim Uzoatu (author of “God of Poetry”), Odili Ujubuoñu (author of “Pregnancy of the gods”), Isidore Emeka Uzoatu (author of “Vision Impossible”), Okeke Chika Jerry (author of “The gods Are Hungry”), Rev. Fr. Ositadimma Amakeze (author of “The Last Carver”); James Eze (author of ” Dispossessed”), Paul Ifeanyi (author of “The Pregnant Virgin”), among others, are expected at the event.
The 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival will be transmitted live by DigiTV, and will also have the presence of the state’s Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr. Christian Madubuko; veteran Nollywood Actor, Bob-Manuel Udokwu; the Director General, Digital Entrepreneurship Office, Ifeanyi Anagoh, among other dignitaries, young and established writers from within and outside the country.
Meanwhile, Anambra State’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba has advocated that Chinua Achebe be immortalised for creating a firm moral order out of changing values of the society.
Adinuba said this when he received members of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra Chapter in his office at the Jerome Udoji secretariat complex, Awka.
He commended the young writers for their efforts to honour the novelist, Chinua Achebe, urging them to keep the good work going as they would help to shape the society in future.
Adinuba promised government’s support to the group, especially in their annual literary event, even as they plan hosting the event this year in memory of the literary icon.
Earlier, the leader of the young writers, Mr Izunna Okafor, said they would be organising the annual event on Nov. 16 in honour of late Chinua Achebe at the Dr Kenneth Dike State Library complex.
The theme for this year’s event is: “Chinua Achebe: Our Heritage in a New Normal” and a memorial lecture would be delivered by Sir Oseloka Obaze and other speakers.
“Our visit also is to urge the State Government to immortalise late Chinua Achebe as well as to promote literary activities and good reading culture in the state.
“The event also will help us to hunt for young talents in writing. We are also pleading with the government to establish writers residency here in Awka, where the young writers will be trained, publish their books and do many more.
“This will be a way of immortalising him so as to help to continue his legacy and contribute to National development.