Dr. Okediran addressing the gathering
Read Across Nigeria (RAN) is an initiative conceived by Wole Adedoyin (a member of ANA Oyo) with main aim of promoting reading culture among Nigerians across the country. The initiative came at the right time when parents and teachers are complaining of falling standard of education, which is solely as a result of poor reading culture among contemporary youth. It is a well-known fact that our education system will not prosper when the nation’s teeming youth lack reading culture, which is recognised as a key to development in whatever capacity. The problem of poor reading culture is merely one of the reasons that motivated the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) through Yusuf Ali (SAN) to introduced National Literary Awareness Campaign. The campaign is now doing well in reviving reading culture, through various literary programmes.
The initiative of Adedoyin was introduced to celebrate National Reading Events in honour of one of icons of literature in Nigeria in person of Hon. Dr Wale Okediran, former national president of ANA, who turned 61 years on the day of the event, which was 14th April, 2016. The initiative was accepted nationwide, as many writers across the country adopted it and organised series of reading activities to commensurate with the birthday of the comrade.
The celebrant, Okediran is a multiple award winning writer, a medical doctor by profession, and one time Member of the House of Representative. His writing career started way back in his secondary school where he was an active member of the school’s press club and debating society. At the University of Ife, he edited a campus newspaper, Rip Off”. He has published till date twelve novels out of which nine are adult fiction and three are for children. Many of the books are on the reading lists of several Nigerian Universities such as the University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nasarawa State University and University of Maiduguri among others.
Kano events through RAN were held at the American Corner, Murtala Muhammad library, Kano. Series of activities were organised for period of five days. The activities include radio interviews to promote reading culture, school sensitisation reading tours, books donations, creative writing workshops, prize presentations and a special reading. RAN programmes were supported by four organisations, namely: ANA Kano, Adamu Joji Publishers, Whetstone Arts and Translation and Services and BASKY Languages Konsultants.
During that workshop, Dr Okediran facilitated English fiction writing for secondary school students, while Ismail Bala of the Department of English and Literary Studies taught students poetry writing. Abdulkadir Badsha Mukhtar, former ANA Kano Secretary and staff of Bayero University Press, represented Prof Yusuf M. Adamu and taught writing in Hausa. At the workshops, a number of exercises were conducted for the emerging writers to grab the writing skills taught by the facilitators.
The special reading session has featured some prominent Kano-based writers and poets. It was held in a mixture of Hausa and English, which served as a variety of artefacts for the teeming audiences.
Zahra Tabiu, a young novelist opened the session when she read from her first novel, “Desire and Destiny. The book was read by a number of students during ANA-Yusuf Literary Event. Ismail Bala presented a poem titled “Both Together and Each Alone”, while Safiyya Ibrahim Abdulhamid, a poet of two collections, “Jewel from the New World” and “Destined by the Rhythm” from presented an excerpt from her latest book. Others writers that presented their works in English include, Tijjani Muhammad Musa (The Young in Man), Mrs Fatima Aminu Yahya (Little Butterfly), Ammar Femoh Sesay (After the Sun of Victory), Sameera Ali (Design on Paper), Nazir Kallah (Beauty), Aliyu Abdullahi (A Full Round Moon), Taufiq Aminu Yahya (The Great Nightmare), and Sani Isa Yau (Skep Fell of Quiff).
Those that read in Hausa at the event are Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah, with a poem titled “Ranar Haduwa”. Abdullahi Kangala presented a poem, “Budurwar Wawa”, Maude Rabiu Gwadabe “Ni da Bakuwata” while Danladi Haruna presented a short story titled “Daren Zuwa Ingila”. Other presenters in Hausa include a poem “Habiba” by Yaseer Kallah and a short story titled “Zeenatu” by Khalid Imam.
Another interesting part of the reading session was the way young ones who are expected to take a lead of better tomorrow were supported to be among the presenters. Ammar Rabi’u presented “A Message for President Muhammad Buhari” (a piece of advice for the Nigerian president); Muhammad Rufa’i Jega presented a story titled “My New School”; while Mukhtar Bashir read a beautiful citation of the celebrant, Dr. Wale Okediran, from a book of fifty Nigerian writers.
In his goodwill message, Bala Muhammad a season journalist and lecturer with Department of Mass Communications, BUK commended the organisers of the programme for colourful occasion. He also hopes to see more of events in Kano where young people would be availed opportunity of attending literary activities. Muhammad called the attention of ANA Kano to be more focus on these literary activities. “It is the only way to keep both young and old people busy, which would boost their creativities and literary skills.” Muhammad stated. He also congratulated Okediran for the honour and his achievements.
In his response, the honouree of RAN, Dr. Wale Okediran was overwhelmed with the initiative, which was accepted nationwide in his honour. Okediran argued: “ANA already has an annual National Literary Awareness Campaign which has been ably supported for the last few years by my good friend, Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN). Therefore, I expect the Read Across Nigeria (RAN) Project to be a worthy addition to this important activity. I have also been informed that the RAN Project will be an annual event which will be used to honour different authors on a yearly basis.
Dr Okediran called the attention of parents and guardians to impart the culture for reading to their children, because it is part of their responsibility. He further said. “Let us all resolve in ourselves to read to our children and wards on a daily basis. Through this, we shall inculcate in them the very important culture of reading.”
In the contemporary Nigerian literature, the name Okediran couldn’t be ignored when talking about promoters literary activities. Apart from being one time president of ANA, Okediran was the founder of Ebedi Writers’ Residency, which he established in his hometown of Iseyin six years ago. The programme has successful hosted many writers home and abroad who had also used their time of stay to mentor young students in the community. This is a great development that has laid a landmark in Nigerian literature.
The celebrant saw the residency as initiative that has motivated others to emulate. “This development has inspired other prominent writers such as Wole Soyinka to establish writers’ residencies in their states.” He said.
The programme was rounded up with a vote of thank from the coordinator of the programme, Khalid Imam who thanked his team members such as the Secretary of the event, Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah and Danladi Haruna for their role in making the programme successful. Imam also thanked all the facilitators, dignitaries, writers and organisations that supported or attended the programme, and for making it a colourful and historic occasion.
Before the closing prayer, ANA Kano reminded all that it holds two Creative Writers Fora every month at the Murtala Muhammad Library, Kano – the Hausa Session on the first Sunday of the month at 11am; and the English Session on the last Saturday of the month also at 11am.