IN what promises to be another literary reunion for authors and literary enthusiasts from across Nigeria and other countries, Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter) is set to host the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture 2021. The group’s Coordinator, Izunna Okafor, stated this in Awka, the Anambra State capital, while giving update on the society’s preparedness for the Tuesday, November 16, 2021 event, which is also Achebe’s birthday.
According to Okafor, Chinua Achebe Literary Festival, which is in its sixth edition, is an annual literary event held in honour of Nigeria’s literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe, in celebration of his life, numerous accomplishments and outstanding legacies in the literary and culture field. He further said the event, which started in 2016, will (as usual) hold on Achebe’s date of birth, November 16, 2021, starting at 11.am, at the usual venue —Anambra State Central E-Library, Awka. Many dignitaries are expected to be in attendance.
Okafor stated that this year’s Chinua Achebe Memorial Lecture will be delivered by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (ANPC), Sir Chuka Nnabuife, who is also a veteran journalist, accomplished author, and 2015 winner of Gulder Ultimate Chase. The former Chief Judge of Anambra State, Prof. Peter Umeadi, will chair the occasion.
In his word, “The event will feature the Achebe Lecture, drama, spoken word poetry, announcement of the winners of the 2021 Chinua Achebe Essay Writing Competition (endowed and sponsored by Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, for secondary schools), announcement and recognition of outstanding entrants for the 2021 Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, special reading, award/certificate presentation, among other literary packages slated for the day.”
He also added that the annual event will also feature the cutting of Achebe’s 91st posthumous birthday cake, as well as the official unveiling and presentation of the sixth Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, entitled ‘There Was a Man’, which is the society’s newest anthology of poems and essays published in honour of Achebe. The annual international anthology, Okafor explained, is the writers’ way of immortalizing Achebe, as it contains poems, essays, and reviews written and submitted by writers from different countries of the world, in response to a call earlier made by the society.
Okafor, who is also the 2015 winner of Nigerian Writers Award and brain behind the initiative, further disclosed that the 2021 Achebe Literary Festival has as theme ‘Remembering Achebe… in a Time Like This’ is expected to be receive top government functionaries and literary enthusiasts, including the Executive Governor of Anambra state, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, who is expected to declare the event open, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C-Don Adinuba, the state’s Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr. Kenneth Anierobi, Principal Secretary to the Governor, Sir Willie Nwokoye, as well as the traditional ruler of Obosi, His Majesty Igwe Chidubem Iweka, who will also serve as royal father.
Stating that President of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Mr. Camilus Ukah, will attend the event, Okafor further listed other guests to include Nollywood actor, Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Chief Press Secretaryr to Governor Obiano, author of poetry collection, ‘Dispossessed’ and winner of ANA Poetry Prize 2020, James Eze, author of ‘The gods Are Hungry’ and 2021 Anambra governorship candidate, Okeke Chika Jerry, (author of ‘God of Poetry’, Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, author of ‘The Last Carver’, Rev. Fr. Ositadimma Amakeze, author of ‘Vision Impossible’, Isidore Emeka Uzoatu and author of ‘The Pregnant Virgin’, Dr. Paul Ifeanyi.
Others expected are the first female Professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria, Prof. Stella Okunna,Head of Department, English Language and Literature, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Jane Ifechelobi, public affairs analyst, Sir John Ifejika, and international actor/award-winning author, R.C. Ofodile.
Okafor said of the liteary icon, “Achebe must be celebrated, and deserves to be celebrated even on daily basis”.
Born on November 16, 1930, Chinualumogu Albert Achebe is Nigerian literary legend and critic, who died on March 21, 2013 at 82.