Young Writers Hail Soludo’s Renaming Of Anambra Airport After Achebe,
Society of Young Nigerian Writers (SYNW), Anambra State Chapter, have expressed their heartfelt appreciation to Gov Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo for his decision to immortalise the late Nigerian literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe with the renaming of Anambra Airport after him.
The commendation came after Soludo renamed the Anambra Airport after Achebe during the 2023 Independence Day celebrations at the Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, as a way of immortalising him.
In a reaction, Mr Izunna Okafor, the Coordinator of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra Chapter said the news was met with joy and admiration by the group.
Okafor who said this in a Statement, said the Governor’s decision signified the recognition of the enduring importance of literature in society.
He said that the Young Writers in Anambra State had, for years, been advocating for the immortalisation of Achebe, through their annual event, the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture, which started in 2016.
The event, held annually at the Anambra State Central E-Library in Awka, also features the unveiling of an international poetry/essay anthology known as the Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, which the young writers annually publish in honor of Achebe.
He also revealed that the 8th edition of this anthology, while usually receives entries from writers from different parts of the world, would be unveiled during the 2023 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture, slated for Nov. 16.
According to. Okafor, for years, the young writers have passionately appealed to the government to immortalize Achebe.
“Each year during the Festival, we reiterate our call for the government to immortalise Achebe, emphasising the injustice of neglecting such a world-class intellectual.
“We lamented the demoralising effect this had on upcoming writers and observed that while politicians and moneybags were celebrated and immortalised, literary champions like Achebe had not received the recognition.
“In recent editions of the event, we re-echoed this same call, urging the Anambra Government to rename the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri, after Achebe.
We also called for establishment of of an International Writers Residency in his honour, since there are just two (even privately-owned) writers residencies in Nigeria.
“Despite our persistent appeals, our pleas fell on deaf ears until the conclusion of the immediate-past administration of Chief Willie Obiano.
However, we remained unwavering in our quest, even during the tenure of Gov. Chukwuma Soludo.
“Today, we express our gratitude to Mr Governor for heeding our call and fulfilling one of our requests to immortalize Achebe.
This act is not only a precious and best Independence Day gift to Anambra writers, but to writers nationwide and beyond. By granting this request he has won our hearts and support as young writers. We cannot thank him enough for this profound gesture.”
While expressing their appreciation, the young writers called upon Soludo to consider fulfilling the second part of their request, which is the establishment of the Chinua Achebe International Writers Residency in Anambra State.
Okafor, an award-winning writer and journalist, said, “This residency would be of immense importance and impact.
“Many of us have been fortunate to participate in writers’ residencies across Nigeria and worldwide, and we long for such a prestigious institution in our beloved state.
“As we prepare for the 2023 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture scheduled for Nov. 16 this year, this additional announcement by the governor would be a dream come true.”
“Governor Soludo’s decision to immortalise our role model, Prof. Chinua Achebe, demonstrates that being an intellectual is a noble virtue deserving of recognition.
He has broken the jinx and inspired us to follow in Achebe’s footsteps by solving and granting this our age-old request, the Governor has proven to us that Solution is here.
This legacy is already etched in the sands of time, and posterity will forever remember the governor for such a historic act,” he said.
On his own part, the National President of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Mr Wole Adedoyin, described Achebe’s immortalisation in Anambra as a dream come true, especially for young writers in the State, whom he attested, had been on the forefront of the call for such honour to be done to the literary champion.
Adedoyin, who commended Anambra young writers for sustaining the call through their annual activities, hailed Soludo for granting this request in less than two years of his administration.
“It is very great news, and governor Soludo has done marvelously well,” Adedoyin said.