Bayelsa ANA boss bows out in style

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A prolific writer, Michael Afenfia recently bowed out as the Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors  (ANA), Bayelsa State chapter. During his reign, poetry poured in torrents to wet Ijaw land; prose cracked the endless walls of papers and drama was never in short supply.

Afenfia undoubtedly proved his mettle leaving big shoes for his successor and first female chairman of the association in the state, Mrs. Bina Nengi-Ilagha to step in. The new chairman is the wife of Nengi Josef Owei, an author of many interesting and sometimes controversial epistles, one of which once got him into jail.

The former chairman, an unassuming, soft-spoken and articulate orator wrote his name in gold. He ushered in an era of seamless literary activities, which kept the genres of literature burning in the hearts of the initiated and uninitiated. The period resurrected and resuscitated the works of art and celebrated accomplished writers from Ijaw extraction.

In fact, fresh young writers emerged on literary stage; old accomplished ones got their grooves back and persons who exited the literary world came back with big bangs. Many award winning events were held to reward outstanding writers in the fields of literature. It was a source of motivation that wired literary spirits in the state.

Indeed, Afenfia bowed out in style. He organised a unique poetic event that brought award-winning and experienced poets to Yenagoa, the state capital. The event, which was held recently, showcased literary talents in a deliberate effort to make the state a preferred destination for literature. A globally celebrated poet, Amu Nnadi, was made the focus of the event.

Nnadi, whose latest collections of poems, the Field of Echoes, has been receiving global accolades, brought a team of budding literary talents to add colour to the Bayelsa event. In a crowded hall, the poets, who accompanied Nnadi from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, thrilled their audience with performances.

But Bayelsa lived up to the occasion. The state had many talents on parade. Their voices wafted sonorously from the stage compelling their audience to listen in tranquillity.

Nnadi shared his experience of how he rose from his dislike to poetry to become a celebrated poet. He also performed a poem he wrote to immortalise the late former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieseigha. In fact, he was a pillar of motivation for rising literary stars in the audience.

Indeed, the event, a Special Poetry Reading Featuring Amu Nnadi, was a memorable parting shot organised by Afenfia. The outgone chairman said the event was in line with his vision when he took over the mantle of leadership of Bayelsa ANA.

He said: “When we took over, we sat down and thought of the direction to take ANA Bayelsa in the next  two years. Two things were prominent for me. The first was the ability to identify young talents and mentor them.

“We have had a couple of events that involved children in secondary and primary schools. Only recently we got two teenagers from Bayelsa to represent the state at the national event in Niger State Minna. On that front we have recorded some measure of success.

“The second thing was to make Bayelsa the capital of literature, the capital of poetry, prose and drama in Niger Delta. If we didn’t achieve that goal in the first one year or second year, we have accomplished it today with this event because we have succeeded in bringing out everybody in Bayelsa who is a poet.

“We have even brought an award-winning poet all the way from Rivers State to be with us here today. It is worthy of commendation. But ANA Bayelsa will not take the glory alone because we have a lot of associations working with us”.

Afenfia also said his leadership conceived the idea of building fun into all their literary activities. “We also dreamed of bringing an element of fun into what we do as creative people. Something connects us and one cord unites us and that is our love for poetry”, he said.

He said the event was first in the history of the state. He said it brought all the poets and people with creative minds in the state to share their talents and pass a message that Bayelsa is a home of creative talents.

Afenfia said: “Bayelsa is more than the negative that is sometimes portrayed about the state. We are more than kidnapping, armed robbery and the militancy that takes place in the creeks.

“This is what we are, the talents displayed today, the messages behind the poems and presentations. It is the Bayelsa story that we are telling. A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Gabriel Okara at 96 and people were like whether there would be a renaissance of poetry again in the state.

“But this event has answered that question definitively. Bayelsa is blessed with abundance of talents and that is the story that we should begin to tell. People go to UK to watch football matches because they have created an industry out of soccer.

“We want to create an industry out of the talents that God had given us. So that people can pay money to come to Bayelsa and watch these talents and become entertained, informed and educated.

“We did a lot of things with young people. We had a lot of competitions where talents were mentored. Beyond the dinners, award ceremonies, those times we went to school to organise competitions for them, those times we identified talents and made them a part of us are our greatest achievements”.

Culled from here

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