When Ebedi residents tapped from Prof Raji’s literary expertise

THE Ebedi International Writers Residency in Iseyin, Oyo State has continued to give writers across the world the opportunity to spend six weeks in a serene environment in Iseyin community in order to focus on their writings.

While the writers also work with secondary school students in select schools in the community, they also get the chance to be mentored by well-established writers and academics.

Recently, a professor of English from the University of Ibadan, Remi Raji, was at the residency to mentor the residents.

The residents, Hussaina Sufyan Ahmed, from Kaduna; Olaoluwa Oni, who came from the United States of America for the residency; Rachidatou Alfagani from Togo and Haneefah Abdulrahman, also from Kogi, used the opportunity of the residency to work on their different literary works which they would not have been able to do due to their daily busy schedules.

Speaking during the parley with the residents, Professor Raji, who is also a former president of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), first commended Dr Wale Okediran, the founder of the residency, for sustaining the project.

Professor Raji said it was only Dr Okediran’s passion for literature that is sustaining the residency, adding that it is also the first of its kind in the country.

The don added that Dr Okediran, who was also ANA president, has put Iseyin on the global literature map as more than 120 writers, including those from several countries in Africa like Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, United States, had benefited from the residency at one time or the other.

He said the serene environment that Ebedi provides is the greatest advantage for writers, just as he added that, “writing is a private affair, but it is when the works are published that they become public.”

While speaking, Ahmed, a freelance journalist, said she once had some domestic challenges and stopped writing. “Immediately I stopped writing, depression began to set in; I can now boldly say that writing is a therapy for me.

“I actually came to Ebedi to work on poetry, but then, I started writing plays which focus on violence. I am the character in my own writing.”

Oni, on her part, commended Dr Okediran for giving her the opportunity to come from the United States for the residency. She said her parents were initially worried about her, but those she met from the point of her arrival in Ibadan till she got to Iseyin made her feel very comfortable.

She said Iseyin, being her father’s hometown, was one of the reasons that propelled her to apply for the residency so that she could experience the town.

Alfagani, while speaking, said there was a lot of misconception about Nigeria in Togo, but added that since she arrived, she saw a completely different picture of the country.

She said she found Nigerians to be hospitable and always ready to assist, adding that she would take the true picture of Nigeria back to Togo.

Abdulrahman, in her remarks, also commended Dr Okediran for the opportunity, just as she added that her fellow residents have been wonderful people.

She said her work with secondary school students in the community was another way of giving back to the community.

Professor Raji then had a brief session with the writers, where he listened to them on the areas they are having challenges in their writings, just as he shared with them how to go about their work.

Also at the parley were leaders of the community, including the Baale of Barracks area where the residency is located, Chief Lawal Awojobi, who commended Dr Okediran for bringing glory to Iseyin.

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