By Yemi Adebisi
Inchelon, South Korea was finally crowned the 2015 World Book Capital City (WBCC) on Thursday April 23 at the expiration of the tenure of Port Harcourt, Nigeria which has held on to the prestigious honour for one year.
In her hand over speech, coordinator of 2014 Port Harcourt WBCC, Mrs. Koko Kalango said Nigeria and South Korea would continue to collaborate together as outstanding cities of the world of business and arts.
She however lamented on the tragic incidents that befell the youth of both countries during the book year, the scenario she described as being grievous.
“Nigeria became the World Book Capital amidst mixed feelings of joy and grief. Nine days before this historic occasion, over 200 girls were abducted from a high school in Chibok by Boko Haram, an islamist extremist group that believes western education is evil. It seemed ironical that the book was being brought to focus, against the backdrop of a retrogressive and dangerous movement directly opposed to the ideals of the World Book Capital initiative. Such tragedy, if anything, should challenge us to continue to work to rescue our society from the grip of those who stand against the progress and liberty education brings,” she said.
The plight of the missing school girls, according to Kalango, was given prominence by Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate for literature, Professor Wole Soyinka, in his keynote address at the Port Harcourt World Book Capital opening ceremony where he called on the Nigerian Government to ‘bring back the pupils’.
“Two days after the Chibok girls were kidnapped, 304 people, mostly students from the Danwon High School, here in South Korea lost their lives in a boat mishap when the MV Sewol sank just off your coastline. A year has gone by but the pain and agony of these tragic incidents remain with Nigeria and South Kore.”
In her assessment, the one-year book fiesta added immeasurable value to Nigerians as it enriched the cultural diversity of her youth among others.
“We had a rich and varied array of programmes for a wide reach and maximum impact. There were programmes for children and youth, arts and culture, library and community development and deliberate plans for sustainability beyond the World Book Capital year. The support of our local, national and international partners was critical in enabling us actualise our objectives. Indeed, today, we can see change taking place – ‘Rivers of possibilities, rippling from the city of Port Harcourt, through the country Nigeria, to the continent of Africa.'”