By Ozoro Opute
CLIMBING up to the fifth floor is phenomenon people look up to in a country where life expectancy is not so long. The feeling can be both surreal and defining. That was how educator, book lover and promoter Ekineta Annette David-West felt on February 14, 2023 when she turned 50, although the celebration was held a day before due to a number of other clashing events. Larger-than-life photos showing her in different poses ushered select 50 guests into the glittering hall of The Golden Tulip, Government House, Onopa, Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, venue of the birthday celebration that had many friends and family from way back and even new friends and associates she recently acquired.
A dance freak in her younger days, David-West showed why she was once a queen on the dance floor, as she moved and twirled gracefully to the old tunes the DJ pelted the audience with from his turntable. His circle of friends also joined her on the floor and it was all fun rejoicing with her on her big day. Food and wine also flowed, courtesy of friends and associates who had put their heads together to ensure David-West had the best few hours of togetherness on her fifth decade of existence.
Also, testimony time came and her new friends had a rare glimpse of the lady book promoter. They shared memories from her childhood days, how much of a stickler to details she is, how tenacious she can be, even how troublesome she can be although with a dose of good naturedness. They spoke about how much she can stick out her neck for those she loves, how much of a good mother she is to her children, with the eldest child also affirming it in glowing terms, and how dependable an ally she can and how much she can cry as well as is natural with most humans. Guests got what could amount to an all-round summation of who and what David-West represents.
Those who spoke about the phenomenon David-West included actor and comedian, Basorge Tariah Jr., Barr. Maro Akpa, Mr. Sunday Agboola, Mr. David Ereboh, Mr. Preye Kenme, Chief Abel Ebifemowei, Mr. Ibiyekaribo Morgan Krukrubo, Mr. Anga Amachree, Bene Benibo, Mrs. Yvonne Iwo Brown, David-West’s elder sister, Mrs. Diepiriye Douglas, Eunice Okoloba, and her children Lydia Akpuluma, Christiana Akpuluma, and Margaret Akpuluma.
But the climax of ‘Annette@50: Merry to Make Impact’ birthday theme event was a summation of what would be her vision for the future. Having come thus far and made significant impact in her own way, what next for David-West? To give an idea what projects would occupy her mind in the next few years was journalist and writer, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou, who more or less unveiled the quintessential ‘Annette@50: A Life of Impact.’ According to the author of new poetry collection, Libations for Africa, making books and libraries available for public school children to broaden their horizon would be the new direction and vocation of David-West.
According to Ajeluorou, “As a school teacher, who deals daily with the depressing non-availability of quality books that should stimulate children’s appetite and deepen their interest in books, there’s the need to just do something to help. With governments not doing much to help the situation or limited in capacity, it has become a source of frustration and worry for an educator like David-West, who believes the best could only come from students when they have both formal and informal instructional materials readily available at their disposal. And having grappled with the situation for a while, a direct intervention seems the only option open. Yes, it’s a daunting task ahead, but that’s why your amiable host is enlisting you, her friends, associates and family, to join her in embarking on this journey with her, to be an ally in making impact in her community, in your community. With people like you as her friends and family, it is her hope that it’s doable, it’s possible to make impact in the lives of young people.
“She’s asking you to join her in helping to give young people a lift from criminality and other forms of vices to be where we are today, in this glittering hall. If we think back how we got here, it’s easy to see why we also need to extend a hand of fellowship to others to give them a good start in life, to where we are now and even beyond. So ladies and gentlemen, let’s all rise in oneness and give this project the boost it deserves. In a few weeks, months from now, Annette will come asking you for specific assistance. Be ready to give it unstintingly. Indeed, you can even volunteer to start with your alma mater. That primary school, that secondary school you attended, you can volunteer to build a library there, buy books and gift them to it. Annette will be your partner in the realisation of that dream project. That’s how humanity grows. You can do it. We can all do it. We have been placed in a unique position where we can do this and more to help. Let’s not hold back. The gift of the future is in your hands. Give it! Thank you.”
Thereafter, guests continued to make merry on the dance floor and the food and drinks and ponder how best to partner with David-West on her new vision of giving a helping hand to young folks on their quest to broaden their educational outlook.