The Anambra chapter of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers has appealed to the state government to immortalize late Professor Chinua Achebe for his legendary work in literary arts.
Chairman of the Anambra chapter, Izunna Okafor, made the appeal during the sixth edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture held in Awka on Tuesday.
Mr Okafor said that it would be great if the government renamed the newly-commissioned Anambra International Airport after Mr Achebe.
He said his great personality deserved such recognition.
“The happenings of this present time, the ever-deteriorating standard of leadership, the unimaginable quest for power in our society today, the need to respect, honour and value intellectuals in a time like this.
“Achebe’s absence and the need for more people like him in a time like this and such other realities, necessitate remembering Achebe, his works, words, actions and personality characterised by patriotism, dignity, equity, justice and strong hatred for corruption.
Mr Okafor urged the government to establish a Chinua Achebe Writers Residency.
He said the late Achebe was a beneficiary and fellow of other writers residences in other countries of the world before his demise.
“There is only one Writers Residency in Nigeria and that is the Ebedi Writers Residency in Iseyin, Oyo State. It is privately owned by Dr Wale Okediran. Therefore, it will not be overdoing it to also immortalise him with one.
He requested that the government appoints aides on literary matters who would stand as a bridge between writers – both young and established and the state government.
“Anambra has many exportable brands of star writers and deserves to create such a vital office to encourage and empower them both intellectually and financially.
“This will also help to raise other Achebes who will replace the man whose honour we are here today for,” Mr Okafor said.
The association, in collaboration with the Anambra State Library Board, and under the leadership of Nkechi Udeze, organised a maiden memorial lecture, poetry performance, unveiling of Chinua Achebe Poetry Essay Anthology to celebrate the revered author.
Ms Udeze said that the celebration of Achebe’s excellence is worth doing, to encourage young people to have the culture to work hard.
She appealed to the young people to develop an interest in writing and reading to bring out the inner talents to enrich themselves and to bless humanity.
In his keynote address, Chuka Nnebuife, an author and journalist, said that Achebe was an iconic name in Africa as well as world literature.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, a former chief judge of Anambra state, Peter Umeadi, advised the young writers present at the event to imbibe the serenity of the library as it would aid their literary life.
Professor Umeadi commended Anambra State Library for its partnership with the Society of Young Writers as it would help in speeding up the writing and reading culture of young people.
The traditional ruler of Obosi, Igwe Chidubem Iweka III, who is also a writer and author, rendered a poem titled “When will the Messiah come” and “Where is your hair,” encouraged the young people to take their destiny in their hands.
Mr Iweka cautioned the people on the use of hard drugs, saying such habits would only lead to their destruction.
The first female professor of Mass communication, Stella Okunna; the national president, Association of Nigerian Authors, Camillus Ukah; Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Creative Art, Bob-Manuel Udokwu; Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Secondary School Education, Paul Ifeanyi, and Ifeayinwa Uzoka, an author, were present at the event.
Some schools were present and made a lot of poem and drama presentations.
The late Chinua Achebe was born on November 16, 1930, and died on March 21, 2013, at the age of 82 years.
The theme for the 2021 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture was “Remembering Achebe In a Time Like This.