Top scholars for [email protected] six-city celebration

AHEAD of the November 29th commencement date of the [email protected] celebrations, the Dr. Wale Okediran-led National Organising Committee (NOC) is pressing solidly ahead with preparations to ensure a hitch-free event in the six selected cities.

The golden jubilee of the novel, written in 1966 by the late Flora Nwapa, and published by Heinemann, would be loudly celebrated in Lagos, Maiduguri, Abuja, Enugu, Owerri and Oguta from November 29 to December 11, under the theme, [email protected]: A Celebration of Flora Nwapa and African Women Literature.’

As part of efforts to ensure a hitch-free celebration, local organising committees (LOCs), under the supervision of eminent scholars, have been constituted to aid the work of the NOC

Scholar and poet, Professor Hope Eghagha of the Department of English, University of Lagos, is head of the LOC in Lagos, while Dr. Razinat Mohammed is overseeing preparations at the University of Maiduguri. Professor Vicky Sylvester of the English Department, University of Abuja is head of the local organising committee in the FCT, Prince Paschal Mebuge heads that of Enugu and Mr. Camilus Ukah is chair of the committee in Owerri.

Also, keynote speakers, including Professor Bolanle Awe (Lagos), Prof. David Ker (Abuja), Prof. Zaynab Alkali (Maiduguri) and Prof. Akachi Ezeigbo (Enugu) have been contacted.

Not willing to leave anything to chance, members of the NOC, including Dr. Okediran, Prince Pascal Mebuge, Barrister Uzoma Nwakuche (Nwapa’s first son), Chinyere Obi-Obasi, Salamatu Sule, Akintayo Abodunrin, Isaac Ogezi and Ikeogu Oke have also paid courtesy visits to key stakeholders. The NOC, has amongst others, visited the managements of UNILAG, UNIABUJA, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC)  Abuja, UNIMAID and IMT Enugu, among other places.

Personalities and organisations, including the Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi;  Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha; NTA Enugu, Radio Nigeria Enugu, Ford Foundation Lagos, Nigerian Breweries Lagos, Goethe Institute Lagos, British Council Lagos and Chief Victor Umeh in Enugu, have also been visited to seek their cooperation.

Happily, the authorities of UNILAG, UNIABUJA, UNIMAID, IMT Enugu, NTA Abuja (for the use of  NTA Arena for the Children’s Carnival), NTA Enugu, Radio Nigeria Enugu, Ford Foundation and  Nigerian Breweries have since confirmed their support.

Similarly, eminent Nigerians, including the  Emir of Kano, Mohammed Sanusi, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, ex-military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd), Gen T.Y. Danjuma (Rtd), Bishop Mathew Kukah, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Senate Leader, Mohammed Ndume and Ministers of Education, Information and Culture, Mines, Women Affairs, Transport and Communications among others have been contacted for support.

Disclosing what else needed to be done before the conference opens on November 29, Dr Okediran said schools participating in the literary competition would soon be confirmed, while copies of ‘Efuru’ would be distributed to them.

He urged other individuals and corporate Nigeria to come on board and join in the celebration of both ‘Efuru’ and its writer, Nwapa, an assistant registrar at the University of Lagos between 1962 and 1964, a visiting Professor at the University of Maiduguri and three-time commissioner in the East Central State.

The [email protected] celebration will feature discourse and paper presentations, symposia, children’s carnival, writing competitions and drama sketches from the novel. The grand finale has been scheduled for Oguta, Imo State the birthplace of the  author on Saturday December 10 2016 with a cultural festival.

However, in continuation of his tour to cities that will be hosting the literary celebration, Dr Okediran was in Enugu State, and the first port of call was the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu where the team paid a courtesy call on the Acting HOD of the Department of Language Studies, Pastor Henry Aniugbo, who is also the Chairman of the LOC already set up by the Department to work with the Efuru’s LOC. After a warm welcome, Pastor Henry led the team to the Director of the Institute of Management and Technology, Dr Mrs Ojel Anidi.

In her welcome remarks, Dr Anidi, who is also an author, expressed her delight at the opportunity given to IMT to host the [email protected] event. She confirmed the news that the Institute’s Rector had already given his approval for the use of the institution’s ultra modern auditorium for the event.

She, thereafter, led the team made up of Dr Okediran (Chairman) Barrister Uzoma Nwakucha (Chair of the Flora Nwapa Foundation) Prince Paschal Mebuge (LOC Chairman Enugu) Mr Camilius Ukah (National Vice President ANA) Mr Ndubuisi Eneh (Chairman ANA Enugu) and Mr Ikeogu Oke to the Rector’s Office.

The Rector, Prof Austin Nweze, also expressed the determination of the IMT to host a very successful event. He confirmed his decision to empower the Department of Language Studies in giving the event a robust reception in the Institution.

The team was later taken on tour of the institution’s magnificent Conference Centre where the event is scheduled to take place. Also visited was the institution’s guest house.

In the evening of the same day, Dr Okediran visited the state governor, Rt Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in his office, where he briefed him about the preparations for the [email protected] event. Governor Ugwuanyi, a former Member of the House Of Representatives, Abuja, assured his guest and former colleague of the readiness of the Enugu State government to support the forthcoming historic event.

The team also visited Governor Rochas Okorocha at the Government House, Owerri.

The visibly elated governor, who welcomed the team to Flora Nwapa’s home state, took some time to go through Efuru, the book to be celebrated in Owerri on Friday Dec 9 2016.

Governor Okorocha, thereafter, promised the full backing of the Imo State government towards the success of the 6 City National event.