Today in #TheLagosReview

Chinua Achebe Literary Festival to hold this Weekend

All is now set for the 2019 edition of the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival which will hold this Saturday in Akwa, the Anambra State Capital.

This was contained in a statement issued by the State Coordinator of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, (Anambra State Chapter), Mr. Izunna Okafor who is also the convener of the event.

He said the event will draw the participation of literary enthusiasts and figures, writers of all class, and intellectuals from different parts of the country, and will feature, among other literay packages: lectures in memory of Achebe, dramatizing of Achebe’s selected books, Open Mic/Spoken Word, Chinua Achebe Essay Writing Competition (for secondary school students, sponsored by the Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation), unveiling and presentation of the Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology entitled “Arrows of Words” (which is the association’s newest collection of poems and essays published in honour of Achebe), award presentation, and many more.

According to him, the literary festival which holds annually since 2016 is organized by the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, (Anambra State Chapter) in honour of Nigeria’s literary legend and father of the African Literature — Late Prof. Chinua Achebe who died in March 2013, in commemoration and celebration of his immense contributions and legacies in the literary field.

While unveiling the 2019 theme of the event — ‘Intellectuals And National Development: The Chinua Achebe Approach’ Izunna described it as apt, given the rueful position of Nigeria today on the developmental ladder, and the envisaged roles the intellectuals have in fixing it, using Chinua Achebe as a benchmark.

It would be recalled that Late Achebe, until his death, was a die-hard chauvinistic countryman who, with his wealth of knowledge, contributed immensely in propelling the developmental wheel of his country Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. He was also an intellectual with integrity, as evidenced by his two-time rejection of the country’s second highest award for intellectual achievement and contribution to National Development —the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic — in 2004 and 2011 respectively, simply because he perceived things were not going the way they should in the country, as under-development, corruption and impunity were the order of the day.

‘This auspicious theme,’ Izunna says, ‘will be further dissected at the literary festival by an international award-winnig actor and author R.C (Reginald Chiedu) Ofodile who will be the lead paper presenter and Guest Lecturer at the event.’

He further disclosed that the literary festival which is done in collaboration with the Anambra State Library Board will be declared open by H. E. Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, who will grace the occasion as the Chief Guest of Honour.

The statement reads in part: “Other guests and literary enthusiasts expected at the literary festival include: Senator Uche Ekwunife (Senator, representing Anambra Central); the state’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Hon. C-Don Adinuba; Chief Oseloka Obaze (author and former guber candidate); Mr. James Ezeh (Chief Press Secretary to the Governor); Sir Chuka Nnabuife, (author of ‘Mbize: Rage of Red Earth, and MD/CEO, National Light Newspaper); Chief Uche Nworah (Author of The Long Harmattan Season, and MD/CEO, Anambra Broadcasting Service); Rev. Fr. Ositadimma Amakeze (author of The Last Carver); Okeke Chika Jerry (author of The gods Are Hungry); Odili Ujubuoñu (author of Pregnancy of the gods); Uzor Maxim Uzoatu (author of God of Poetry); Isidore Emeka Uzoatu (author of Vision Impossible)”

Furthermore, it enumerated the Royal Fathers of the day to include:

H R.M Igwe Alex Uzor Onyido
(The raditional Ruler of Ogidi Kingdom)
H.R.M. Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike
(The Traditional Ruler of Ndikelionwu)
H.R.M. Igwe Chidubem Iweka
(The Traditional Ruler of Obosi)
The statement reads: “Participation in the 2019 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival is absolutely FREE and open to all.

Date: 16th November, 2019
Venue: Prof. Kenneth Dike Central E-Library, Awka, (Beside Aroma Junction).
Time: 10.am

SOWORE, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW

Following the blatant refusal to release Omoyele Sowore, despite meeting the requirements of the bail, Wole Soyinka speaks out against the dearth of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Nigeria.

It should become abundantly clear by now that Civil Society organisations, committed to the entrenchment of the Rule of Law and the defence of fundamental human rights must come together. This is not a new cry. They must meet, debate, and embark on a binding pact of tactical responses whenever these two pillars of civilized society are besieged by the demolition engines of state security agencies. The sporadic, uncoordinated responses as in the case of Omoyele Sowore, the absence of a solid strategy, ready to be activated against any threat — these continue to enable these agencies in their mission to enthrone a pattern of conduct that openly scoffs at the role of the judiciary in national life. Result? A steady entrenchment of the cult of impunity in the dealings of state with the citizenry – both individuals and organizations. The level of arrogance has crossed even the most permissive thresholds.
It is heart-warming to witness the determined efforts of “Concerned Nigerians” in defence of these rights. Predictably, the ham-fisted response of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) continues to defy the rulings of the court. The weaponry of lies having been exploded in their faces, they resort to what else? Violence! Violence, including, as now reported, the firing of live bullets. Why the desperation? The answer is straightforward: the government never imagined that the bail conditions for Sowore would ever be met. Even Sowore’s supporters despaired. The bail test was clearly set to fail! It took a while for the projection to be reversed, and it left the DSS floundering. That agency then resorted to childish, cynical lies. It claimed that the ordered release was no longer in their hands, but in Sowore’s end of the transfer. The lie being exploded, what next? Bullets of course!
Such a development is not only callous and inhuman, it is criminal. It escalates an already untenable defiance by the state. As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose. And now – bullets? This is no longer comical. Perhaps it is necessary to remind this government of precedents in other lands where, even years after the event, those who trampled on established human rights that generate homicidal impunity are called to account for abuse of power and crimes against humanity. The protests for Sowore’s release go beyond only acts of solidarity, they are manifestations of the judgment and authority of courts of law, under which this nation is supposedly governed. Either it is, or it isn’t. The answer stares us all in the face. The principles that now fall under threat implicate more than one individual under travail. They involve the very entitlement of a nation to lay claim to membership of any democratic, humanized union.
Enough of this charade, nothing more than a display of crude, naked power. Release Omoyele Sowore and save us further embarrassment in the regard of the world. An apology to the nation by the DSS and the judiciary would also not be out of place. It would go some distance in redeeming the image of an increasingly fascistic agency and reduce the swelling tide of public disillusionment.
Let the rule of law reign. Failing that, have the honesty to proclaim the death of ordered society. Then we’ll all know just where we stand.

Wole SOYINKA
WS Foundation for the Humanities
Abeokuta, Ogun State
November 12, 2019

‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ opens with star-studded premiere

The movie Living in Bondage: Breaking Free shook Lagos last Saturday when it premiered in the presence of many a Nollywood practitioner helping to redefine Nollywood greatness. Not only was the star-studded attraction of Nollywood’s greatest everywhere one turned, Afro-beat top stars and diverse bigwigs from the world of business also showed up in their numbers. Indeed, with the premiere of Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, diamonds and bling stepped from stretch limo to embrace the finest red carpet.

Special guest Obi Asika said it best in describing the experience as: “Pure class. Living In Bondage: Breaking Free is pure, unadulterated class. From the magnificent guests to the jaw-dropping red carpet, and best of all, a movie that I consider Nollywood’s best ever, Living In Bondage: Breaking Free without doubt took it there. Thank you, Play Networks, for a movie of sheer creative genius. And to my dear brother, Charles Okpaleke, thank you for the vision. You sure took it there.”

Kunle Afolayan joined in commending Ramsey Nouah “for a world-class directorial debut. I would hate to compete with Living In Bondage in 2019. This is an all-round creative genius.”

Uche Jumbo, Chioma Akpotah, Niyi Akinmolayan, Funlola Aofiyebi and other Nollywood greats added glowing tributes to a movie widely adjudged as ‘possibly Nollywood’s greatest ever.’

Living In Bondage: Breaking Free, sequel to the 1992 blockbuster, follows young Nnamdi Okeke on his earnest quest for fame and fortune. This breathtaking cinematographic experience has since been released in cinemas nationwide on Friday, November 8, 2019.

Caine Prize celebrates 20th anniversary with special anthology

The Caine Prize for African Writing has released a special edition anthology, celebrating 20 African short stories that have won the prize since inception in 2000. So far, several Nigerians have won the award, including Helon Habila (2001), Segun Afolabi (2005), EC Osondu (2009), Rotimi Babatunde (2012), Tope Folarin (2013), and most recently Lesley Nneka Arimah (2019).

On their website, the Caine Prize said “2020 will be both a year of reflection, and the year we mark our 20th anniversary, it is the year that we look back on 20 years of bringing African stories to a wider global audience. A year of unique and carefully crafted stories which transport readers from their own lives and their own realities into worlds conceived by the imaginations of some of the world’s most talented and innovative writers. There are many Africans and many African experiences, perhaps the beauty of the Caine Prize is that it reflects the plethora of African identities which exist. From South Africa to Sudan, male, female, gay, straight, rich, poor on the continent, in the diaspora, rural, urban there is a story to reflect all our experiences. The Caine Prize is special because it has allowed a continent that is often objectified to reclaim its agency and speak for itself.”

Ben Okri OBE, Vice-President of the Caine Prize Council, said: “Whether it is the celebration, the marketplace, the bus stop, the ritual, the family, the funeral, comradeship, grisly death, sexual awakening, the short story catches the experience, holds it at an angle, illuminates it.”

Ellah Wakatama-Allfrey OBE, Chair of the Caine Prize, said: “It’s very exciting to be able to share an anthology which encompasses the wonderful literary contributions that have shaped the Prize over the past 20 years. We enter the twenty-first year of the Prize with excitement, and look forward to reading more electrifying literature from all over Africa in the years ahead.” Through its workshops, anthologies and events the Caine Prize has provided a platform for African writers to share their work and hone their craft. Awarded annually to the best short story written by an African writer, the prize has supported and rewarded outstanding African literature for 20 years.

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