The International Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) is scheduled to commence from 12th-15th November, 2015 at Arewa House, Kaduna State. It is exactly nineteen years when Kaduna hosted the last Convention, being once headquarter of the northern Nigeria, a city where the late Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, lived.
The venue of the event would surely be a source of inspiration for teeming writers that would attend the convention. Arewa House is the place where Ahmadu Bello lived with his family and where he was assassinated during 1966 coup that saw the end of the first republic government in Nigeria. The main resident where he lived with his family has now converted to hostel for postgraduate students and researchers. Of course, Arewa House will surely be a source of inspiration for writers.
In 2010, I stayed there for a retreat and when I was taken round the whole house, I found myself imagining life in the early 1960s when Sardauna was living his full life. His museum, office and residence would definitely be a monument that writers would like to see.
At the end of the day, many writers would go home with so much to write about the Sardauna and the North in general.
The 2015 Convention is very important to the Nigerian writers and would no doubt attract large delegates from all parts of the country. First of all, it is an election year that normally attracts good number of delegates. Secondly, the elections would involve two big elephants that are well-known in the Nigerian literature and beyond.
To me, since Dr. Wale Okediran vs Dr. Emman Shehu election, the association has never had a hot contest than this year’s election. Lastly, the Convention has its theme as: The Local and Global Textures of New Nigerian Writing, which would also generate debate and assessment of the journey so far on new Nigerian writing.
As I earlier said, many writers attend ANA convention during election year just to add number or try to influence elections. This year shouldn’t be different, as ANA is trying to make extra arrangements to cater for the large delegates. That is one of the reasons the national body is requesting a list of delegates that would be attending the convention from each state.
The two big contestants are very good friends that worked hand-in hand in the past for the development of Nigerian literature. They are no other than B.M Dzukogi and Denja Abdullahi. The two comrades have vast credibility and peculiarities to lead the association. In fact, they were close to each other because of the vision and mission they shared in common on the Nigerian literature, which bind their relationship. In 2005, when ANA Kano was invited to Minna for All Schools’ Carnival of Arts and Festival of Songs (ASCAFS), we came together and strategized on Kano Convention that brought Denja Abdullahi as Secretary General of the association.
I was not happy when I saw how the campaigns for power led to utterances by the candidates and their supporters, which endanger the future of this movement. Thanks to Dr. Wale Okediran for intervening, by bringing the teams together to make peace for the sake of the association. Yes, the association should be the first in consideration. Just like the peace meeting between the former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammad Buhari before the general elections, which yielded positive result, we hope to see such development in the association, because in an election there must always be a loser. Let’s hope the struggle for the power won’t affect the friendship and the association after elections. ANA lost Dr. Emman Shehu when he was defeated by Dr. Wale Okediran in Kano and Owerri. He seized from attending all ANA functions across the country.
The Convention will host Professor Harry Garuba of the Centre of African Studies, University of Cape Town as a guest speaker. I am expecting a lot from the speaker, to discuss about new Nigerian writing. As someone who is with the Centre of African Studies, I expect him to critically assess Nigerian writing including its indigenous literature.
New voices have emerged in the Nigerian literature, but what are the achievements made locally in promoting the new writers? To me, we are yet to harness the opportunity of local writing in Nigeria. On the other hand, some of these new writers were published abroad by the big publishers; some had won awards or even made to the final list of prestigious awards. But the true of the matter is that we need real assessment of Nigerian literature in the global texture, to know the exact achievements so far made.
For long, I have been arguing about lack of genuine publishing houses that are willing to promote new writing in Nigeria. Most of the giant publishers in the country are after big names; they keep repeating and promoting old texts that were produced decades ago. That is what paves the way to self-publishing in the country, because the new writers want their writings to be read. And those that succeeded in doing that lack means of circulating and promoting their works.
Whoever emerges as next ANA President has a lot to do in that aspect. The association that is said to be the largest writers’ association in Africa is expected to be a role model for many writers’ association across the globe. We are hoping to see new ANA which would give room for new writers and their creative works to flourish. We want to see ANA that would link up with governments and private organisations to organise regular writing workshops, colloquiums and residencies. It is unfortunate that 2015 NNLG for Children Literature has no winner for lack of credible entries as the panel of the judges argued.
I am very optimistic that things would change for the better, but we have to work very hard with our total commitment and honest. I want to see new Nigerian writings that would get recognition home and abroad. A period that will attracts the right promotion and global networking for the new Nigerian writers.