As Organisers Name Outstanding Authors
Barely six weeks after the 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture held by the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (SYNW), Anambra State Chapter; the association has officially announced the release of its fifth edition of the Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, entitled "Achebe: A Man of the People".
Initiated in 2016 and organised by young writers in Anambra State, Nigeria, Chinua Achebe Literary Festival Festival and Memorial Lecture is an international literary event held in memory and honour of a foremost Nigerian literary legend, Late. Prof. Chinua Achebe, in celebration of his life, works and legacies in the literary field and beyond.
This year's edition of the event, themed "Achebe: Our Heritage in a New Normal" which held on 16th November, 2020, in Awka the Anambra State Capital, was also used to mark Achebe's 90th posthumous birthday as well as and the maiden edition of the Chinua Achebe Memorial Lecture, which was delivered by Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze (a published Author and Diplomat), to the a large throng of audience and participants who joined both physically and virtually from different countries of the world.
In the word of the Project Coordinator, Izunna Okafor, who is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology as well as the Coordinator of Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter), the event is an annual ritual, during which they also publish and unveil the annual Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology.
He said, "Every year, prior to hosting this literary festival, we usually open 'Call for Submissions’ online, through which writers from different parts of the world write and submit their poems, essays or reviews (strictly written in honour of Achebe) for the anthology. Those hundreds of entries are what we collate, vet, and publish into an anthology, which we usually unveil on the day of the literary festival.
"We did this in 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions of the event. However, in preparation for the 2019 edition of the event, we decided not to call for submissions for a fresh anthology, but to collate the three previously published collections and publish them as a single anthology, still in honour of Achebe. And that birthed a classic anthology and masterpiece "Arrows of Words" which we published and unveiled last year during the 2019 edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival.
"This year, 2020, in preparation for the fifth edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Maiden Chinua Achebe Memorial Lecture, we made another ‘Call for Submissions’ through which we received over a hundred submissions from writers across the world. It was the collation, selection, vetting, editing and the publication of those beautiful poems, essays and reviews that birthed this classic anthology entitled 'ACHEBE: A MAN OF THE PEOPLE'."
This year's anthology, he noted, features works of upcoming voices in the literary world as well as those of already announced writers from different countries of the world, including that of erstwhile winner of the Africa's biggest literary prize, the NLNG Prize, Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, among other prominent writers across the globe.
On what informed the title, Okafor said, "As usual, this year’s title of the anthology was informed by the contents of the entries (poems, essays and reviews) received and published therein, which do not only portray Achebe as a Savant, but also praise him as “Man of the People”, looking at his personality, works, achievements and legacies."
"Although the title somewhat coincides with the title of Achebe’s fourth novel “A MAN OF THE PEOPLE”; the two books are thematically unrelated. Also, Achebe’s ‘Man of the People’ title here in this anthology is absolutely different from that of Chief Nanga in the 1966 book of his –“A MAN OF THE PEOPLE” –which predicted the first Military Coup in Nigerian," he added.
Edited by Izunna Okafor, this year's edition of the anthology was not officially unveiled at the 2020 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival And Memorial Lecture, which as usual, held on Achebe's date of birth, November 16, as a result of failure and disappointment on the part of the publisher, who Okafor noted, was eventually discovered to have predetermined to 'make a mess of the Literary Festival, by withholding the expected story (the anthology) and telling his own story'.
He also revealed that legal action is being taken to re-write the publisher's story, who, he further noted, is still yet to release the hardcopy of the anthology. Okafor however noted that the softcopy of the anthology has been published, and is now available online here and here; hence this official unveiling and release of the anthology.
According to him, the association is also pleased to announce the names of the authors of outstanding works in this year's edition of the anthology, as it annually does, in keeping with one of the promises it made in the ''Call for Submissions' used to secure the entries, and also in recognition of the ten outstanding authors in the three categories of poetry, essays and reviews.
These authors and their works he announced as follows:
Wisdom Ogbonna Offor (Chinua Achebe); Jimoh Taofik Adekunle (I Say, 'Ndo' Obo Dike); Mwiti Christopher (The Great Manoeuvrer's Oeuvre); Jude Chukwuemeka Muoneke (The Icon of Hope); Athol Williams (His Lines); Enitan Abdultawab (A Man of the People); Ibe, Kelechukwu K. (Achebe's Voice in Historic Nigeria); Ordinary Justice (Ifemelu); Akachi Adimora-ezeigbo (Wisdom of Words); Chidozie Emesowum (There Was a Country); Amaka Oguejiofo (Eagle on the Iroko); Innocent Chiemezie Ohaekwe (Achebe and the African Society); Goodness Chinweoruebube Akubueze (The Impacts of Achebe's Work and Lifestyle on All: A Personal Experience); Samuel Ephraim Edward (Dinner for Our Hero); Chanima Wijebandara (Chinua Achebe the Eminent Jurist in the Garb of a Novelist); Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha (The Embodiment of a Transgenerational Writer – A Focus on the Life of Chinua Achebe); Christopher Precious (Things Fall Apart); Ayokunmi O. Ojebode (Ájobí And Ájogbé: Fracture and Restructuring of Nigeria in Chinua Achebe's Selected Folktales); Ogonna, Divine Amarachi (How Chinua Achebe's Works Respond to the Question of the Authenticity of African Literature):Tony Oneweek Muonagor (Indelible Marks); Odogwu Emeka Odogwu (A Better Honour Than Gold); Samuel Edet (Marriage is a Private Affair); Obinna Tony-Francis Ochem (Chinụa Achebe's Literary Legacy: Re-examining Chigozie Obioma's Works); Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema ('There Was a Country': Chinua Achebe's Undying Love for Nigeria that Dealt Him Blows); Anusha Pillay (Love and Free Choice in 'Marriage Is a Private Affair'); Ohita Afeisume (Things Fall Apart: Reflections); Usman Bashir Abubakar (A Sojourn Through Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart': A Literary Criticism); Anodo Rejoice (For Our Sake); Gimbiya Ekene Galadima (Nna Anyị: Our Father); Jesse D. Bitrus (Chinua Achebe: The Father of Modern African Literature); Isah Aliyu Chiroma (The Founding Father of Modern African Literature)