Awka Literary Society extols Soludo for naming airport after Achebe

The Awka Literary Society (ALS) has commended the governor of Anambra State, Prof. Charles Soludo for renaming the Anambra International Airport Umueri to Chinua Achebe International Airport, Umueri.

The Society which is made up of novelists, poets, playwrights, literary critics, publishers and professors of literature observed that renaming and redesignating the airport built by the governor’s predecessor, governor Willie Obiano was a historic foresight which has endeared Governor Soludo to writers and workers of the imagination across the world.

They lauded Soludo for showing a remarkable sensitivity to an important issue that had eluded successive administrations at both state and national levels.

“This is a monumental gesture that is bound to reverberate for generations to come. For decades, we had waited for Chinua Achebe to be honoured. We watched helplessly as previous governments named monuments for people whose legacies pale in comparison to Achebe’s. We are happy that Soludo has demonstrated a presence of mind that has erased our anxiety,” the writers declared.

According to them, “No one in living memory is more deserving of that honour than Chinua Achebe. Achebe’s entire oeuvre defines the place of the black man in the world, restoring the dignity that was plundered and stolen by the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism. When Africa was positioned as the heart of darkness in the imagination of the West, Chinua Achebe beamed brilliant rays on the continent for her better understanding and acceptance. He was indisputably the greatest thinker out of Africa. And we are happy that he has been finally honoured by his own people.”

Speaking further, the society observed that by honouring Achebe, the government of Anambra State has placed him among an eclectic tribe of writers and thinkers whose countries made the right decision to honour and immortalise. 

“Achebe is now in the company of Gabriel García Márquez of Colombia who was immortalised with a life-size bronze statue in Cuba. He is also with Rabindranath Tagore who has a street named for him in Tel Aviv and the Philippines Jose Rizal who has both a statue and a park in Manilla,” the writers declared.

The Society however expressed optimism that the renaming of the airport for Achebe would serve as a catalyst for a repositioning of the arts in Anambra State. “Our dear state is home to some of Africa’s finest writers, painters and thinkers. But there is no structure or physical evidence on the ground to represent this. A visitor to Anambra State would be hard-pressed to accept that this is the home state of Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie, Christopher Okigbo, Cyprian Ekwensi, Chukwuemeka Ike, Chika Okeke Agulu, Ben Enwonwu, Chidozie Ogbalu and many others,” they further observed. 

Calling for further action by the government,  Awka Literary Society advised the state to invest in building infrastructure that would support creativity and the arts in the state. “We need a proper arts village that will accommodate a writers’ residency, a theatre, e-libraries and an exhibition hall to harness the creative energies of our youths,” they further declared.

In the past eight years, Awka Literary Society has been a leading promoter of literature and the arts in South East Nigeria. The Society has successfully hosted a series of poetry festivals in honour of the poet, Christopher Okigbo in his hometown of Ojoto in Anambra State, attracting renowned poets across Nigeria, the UK and Canada to pay a poetic homage to the poet who fell to the Biafran War. 

The Society also curates special evenings for budding poets, novelists and singers in Awka to help them find their authorial voices and strengthen their hold on their art.

Co-founded by the novelist, Odili Ujubuoñu and the poet, James Eze, Awka Literary Society has continued to curate ideas, initiatives and programmes that will change the artistic landscape of South East Nigeria and lend a handle to the dreams of young writers and other workers of the imagination.

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