Nigerian writers converge on Lagos this week
Members of the Nigerian literary community under the auspices of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) will converge on Lagos on October 25 for the 37th annual international convention of the association.
This year’s convention, which is being hosted by the Lagos State chapter of ANA, will last through October 28 and, according to Akin Adeoya, chairman of the Local Organising Committee appointed by the association’s national executive to supervise the preparations, Lagos is set to host a resounding convention that would be counted among the best ever.
Yemi Adebiyi, ANA Lagos chairman, said at the inauguration of the LOC earlier in the year that Lagos, being the Centre of Excellence, was fully ready.
“Of course, you know Lagos is Centre of Excellence. Therefore, writers should expect the best convention from Lagos. We are fully prepared and we encourage all delegates to attend this memorable event. It is going to be a great opportunity to meet the great heroes in the media, business and politics. Mega city, Lagos is welcoming the delegates,” Adebiyi said.
Denja Abdullahi, ANA national president, concurred, saying there was no cause to doubt what Lagos could do.
“It is an opportunity to prove their mettle. The state chapter is making good effort. Recently, Steve Ayorinde, Lagos State commissioner for tourism, art and culture, announced that Lagos is waiting to witness several art-bound events this year. He mentioned LABAF, ANA convention and others. This shows that the state government has been carried along. It is definitely going to be a great experience,” said Abdullahi.
Themed ‘Literature, Megacities and Mega-narratives’, the convention keynote address will be delivered by Karen King-Aribisala, a professor in the Department of English, University of Lagos.
Similarly, ‘Hardground’, the award-winning play by Ahmed Yerima, celebrated playwright and former general manager of the National Arts Theatre, has been chosen as the official play for the convention.
Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, is billed to declare the convention open at opening ceremony on October 25.
During a courtesy visit to his palace in Lagos by the LOC, Oba Akiolu, who also accepted the offer to be the royal patron of the association, prayed for the success of the convention.
“I pray for a successful entry and exit of all participants at your convention. I wish you success and pray that no evil shall distort or destroy the success of the entire programme. And out of my tight schedule, I will find time to not only attend, but to support you beyond the period of the event,” he said.
Not long ago, Abdullahi, the association’s president, led a three-man team to a meeting with the Lagos chapter at Eagles’ Park Hotel, Ikeja. Others in the team were Maik Ortserga, assistant general secretary, and Wole Adedoyin, PRO South.
The two-day meeting, which had in attendance Adeoya, the LOC chairman, Adebiyi, ANA Lagos chairman, and other members of the state chapter and the LOC, was to review the level of preparations for the convention whose activities would hold mainly in the Ikeja area of the state.
It looked at the chapter’s level of preparedness, especially in the areas of welcome cocktail, grand opening ceremony, the convention drama, AGM, accommodation for delegates and special guests, publicity, security, books and photos exhibition, excursion and breakfast at the Lagos beachside, transport and logistics and grand awards dinner.
Getting the hosting rights for the convention, of course, was a dream come true for ANA Lagos. This would be the first time in 25 years that the Lagos chapter would host the convention. The last one it hosted was somehow dissipated because of the death of the then president of the association, the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed by the Sani Abacha military junta. Previous requests from the chapter for the hosting rights had been rebuffed on grounds that it had failed to put its house in order, no thanks to a leadership crisis that grounded its activities for a long while. And so, Lagos is leaving no stone unturned to ensure everything goes as planned.
“So many things happened in ANA Lagos between the 1980s and 1990s, but we survived them all. We have put the past behind us. Now virtually all the members of the association are willing to do their best to push it forward,” Adeoya, the LOC chairman, reportedly said in a recent interview.
“With what we have done so far and what is on the ground, I believe that this is going to be one of the best, if not the best, annual conventions that ANA has ever organised in the country,” Adeoya said.
“In terms of accommodation for the expected guests, which has always been a big issue, I can tell you that we have already done more, as of one month to the event, than any other state chapter of the association had ever done. Most of our venues are already booked down, for example, and most of our events have been resolved,” he said.
And so, to ensure a memorable convention, ANA Lagos kicked off with a number of pre-event activities that, it hoped, would deliver the magic of the state to delegates from across the country.
These include the Patrons’ Night held at the Freedom Parks, Lagos on September 9. Tagged ‘An Evening with ANA Patrons’, the patrons’ night, according to Adebiyi, ANA Lagos chairman, was held to honour distinguished persons who had made contributions to the growth of the association as well as was to appreciate individuals and corporate organisations for their support towards a successful convention.
ANA Lagos also plans to hold a Colloquium on Digital Publishing scheduled for October 24-25.
Feyi-Abiodun Oyeniyi, public relations officer II, ANA Lagos, and spokesman for the local organising committee, said the colloquium is in honour of the late Tayo Aderinokun, former managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), who was a patron of ANA Lagos, a philanthropist and a passionate lover of creative arts.
Oyeniyi said the colloquium would, among other things, see the critical review of creative writing and the publishing industry in Nigeria. It would feature many high-flying scholars and representatives of corporations and in turn explore the benefits and profitability of digital publishing to writers, rather than the usual hard copy which makes the industry and practitioners prone to all sorts of abuses and exploitation, particularly by pirates.
He said both the colloquium, with the theme ‘Monetizing & Globalizing the Writing Craft’, and the 37th ANA International Convention being hosted by the Lagos chapter have been endorsed by the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NACCI).
He said Felicia Otolorin of Google Nigeria, Patrick Enaholo of Pan African University (PAU), and Okechukwu Ofili, chief executive officer, OkadaBooks, were some of the speakers lined up to examine and proffer solutions to problems and prospects of the writing profession in Nigeria.
“Other speakers at the event are Messrs Seun Williams, a Lagos-based legal practitioner, Dr. Sola Olorunyomi from the University of Ibadan, Chukwuemeka Godswill of Boldscholar Research Limited, and Ugo Okoye of iC Concept, a digital book marketing firm,” Oyeniyi said.
As the D-Day draws closer, and as writers from across the country get set to ‘invade’ Lagos, all eyes are on ANA Lagos to live up to its promise.
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