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Garden City Literary Festival (5)

It is quite interesting to end my lessons learnt from the Garden City Literary Festival, 2011.

I vehemently believe that this country,Nigeria, will be a better place to live in if the generation of youths and children alike are given this sort of training. Youths should be focused and work hard to get what they want. No cutting of corners.

Nigeriawill grow from strength to strength; the corruption and unfruitful, unrewarding policies will be thrown down the drain. Let me ask this simple question: Is there any leader, Chief, politician, student, lecturer, layman, name it, who have considered the plight of others and remain unrewarded? No! Many have been rewarded, even though some others pass away without any reward, their children live to eat of the fruit of their labour. That is food for thought for you and me.  Am working hard just like every other hard working youth and I believe that your struggles, in striving to affect our society, our immediate environment, will be rewarded soon.

My humble advocacy to his Excellency continued thus, “ ‘The Total Girl’ has been approved by three states (Rivers, Ebonyi andEdo) for use in secondary and primary schools; but that is not my main purpose of coming out to contribute in this interactive forum with your Excellency. Having taught French language in several nursery and private schools inRiversState. I have observed that the public primary schools do not take part at all simply because they are not taught French language. Yet the oil companies and French companies sponsor some of these competitions and our children in the public schools are deprived of these benefits which their private counterparts enjoy. Moreso, the ministry of education is in collaboration with the Alliance Française, an internationally recognized educational institution that links cultures, and enables graduates from that school to have an edge over all others. French is an international language and international language is an asset. Following these facts how would you encourage holders of the Alliance Française to be incorporated into the civil service so they can groom these children since French teachers are scare and difficult to come by at times?”

The second point I raised was that of writing: “Youths in other fields of studies, beauty pageant contestants, music, comedy, oil and gas, agriculture and the like have received support of all kinds, how will the government support creative writers to excel? How possible can their works be included in the lists of free books for primary and secondary schools?” I was passionate about the points I made because of the pains some youths are passing through. Some of them shared their struggles with me, the challenges they face in having publishers to publish their works.

Finally, I told His Excellency, “Your Excellency, in order to stay focused and legalize my activities with children and youths I have been able to found an NGO, ANGELA AND THE RISING STARS INITIATIVE with the motto ‘NURTURING THE CREATIVE MIND’, focused on Boy and Girl Child Education, Resuscitating the Reading Culture of our youths, HIV/AIDS, Breast Cancer awareness, creation and prevention, foreign language encouragement and promotion of indigenous languages and moral education.”

I then handed over the organizational profile as well as the points I noted on the plain sheet in case I did not get the opportunity to say something, as earlier mentioned, thanking him for the privilege given to me to speak.

In response, the number one man in the state, the vibrant, articulate and visionary governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, in his usual friendly manner asked, “Do you know literature is the best subject in the world? Everything hinges on literature. In short it is my best subject. By the way, (he turned to me) let me ask you, have you ever attended the Garden City Literary Festival”? He asked me! “No”, I replied. “You see, you need to attend the festival so you will know how the present regime has contributed to improve the reading culture and encourage all creative writers….. Go and register”. He commanded me.

I was really glad, went back to my seat and pondered on the command to go and register. When the days business was over I left for Rev. Dic-Etta Gospel Outreach where I fellowship Mondays. At the road side atKampalabus stop where I went to buy air time, I was asked by the sales lady, “Sister, excuse me o! na you I see for television wey Governor Amaechi call out to come speak? I was irresponsive, held on for a while, and then with a smile on my face I answered, yes! “You hear wetin him talk, go register o! no waste time o!” She recommended me.

“Thank you very much I will go and register,” I replied her. At the fellowship Rev. Dic-Etta commended my preparedness, focus and the faith I ran out with and prayed God’s blessings and remembrance for me. Then came Tuesday 19th April, I went out and voted my literary motivator, Governor Amaechi.

It’s a pretty long story how everything went, or how God guided my footsteps. I was thinking how to go about it and couldn’t remember that I have to log on to the website. Then at the open Mic session of the Seaview Poetry Club on Rhythm 93.7 fm PH, my co-poets commended and congratulated me for the bold step. One of them gave me the contact of the centre manager of the Rainbow Book Club (RBC) Mrs. Menezor Daniella, whom I met the following week after the Open Mic Session. She warmly welcomed me. I told her about the event at the government house with his Excellency during the youth forum and how he commanded me to go and register. She told me about the book club and previous events. She gave me a copy of the event programme of 2010 which I took home and carefully studied, went back the following week with a letter of possible collaboration. As God will have it, the Director of the festival, Mrs. Koko Kalango was in town and in the office. Mrs. Menezor Daniella gave her my letter and made it possible for me to meet her. We discussed and she finally told me that the registration will be on line. This I did in the proceeding weeks and finally got a reply to participate at the 2011 edition of the festival.

Interestingly I attended the festival starting from Monday the 12th of September to Saturday the 17th. I participated actively, asked pertinent questions and made meaningful contributions. I was a group leader in two occasions  (i) with Lindsay Barette poetry session and Femi Oke’s story writing for radio/television broadcast, did a song in French during the birthday party of Elder Lindsay Barette, a seasoned journalist, poet, writer and author whose charisma and approach to all the sessions was appreciated and remains ever green in my memory, and that of my friends.

Without mincing words, the festival gave me the opportunity to meet with world class authors, poets, writers, educationist, students, workers from all walks of life, agencies like the RSSDA, Alliance Française, the American Corner, Publishers and a Nigerian born John Ikpeme who is studying in Ghana and who wisely travelled all the way from Ghana just to attend the Garden City Literary Festival.

What more can I say? I was privilege to meet Rev Jesse Jackson, IlyasTunc, Ama Aata Idoo among others. How about the lessons derived from the team  Mrs. Koko Kalango and Mrs. Menezor Daniella together with their team were humble, captivating, caring, enthusiastic, not tensed up amidst the stress and were always on the move. The children’s session was yet another experience seeing brilliant, intelligent, thinking and impressive leaders make meaningful contributions.

Finally, I am most grateful to all who have impacted me and will remain ever grateful to His Excellency who gave me the motivation. Thanking Radio Rivers who moulded me via the airwaves and the warm mentoring of Miss Medline Tador, GM, under whose positive influence I was privileged to have my maiden book, ‘The Total Girl’, presented to the public by Her Excellency, Dame Judith Amaechi, a symbol of love, hope, humility, elegance, a role model.

I am glad I obeyed Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. I registered!

Let’s not put away the small but mighty weapons  the pen and papers. With them we can correct the ills of society; we can make the world a better place to live in, we can motivate. Literature can change the world. Let’s be positive, think positive, act positive.

Borrowing a leaf from the words of the governor, I will also say that I have come away with deeper insights and a renewed sense of the vital links between literature and politics and society. I have gained and have deeper thirst for knowledge. I will keep writing. I will keep striving. I will continue to be creative.####

Angela Inyena Anietie

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