The euphoria that is always experienced when the Association of Nigerian Authors,ANA, gathers every year for their yearly convention remains the same , despite many set backs within the association , the pandemic that engulfed the world, COVID-19 , and the EndSARS aftermath in Nigeria .
This year’s convention which took place in Kwara state, was a celebration greeted with almost care as delegates arrived on the 3rd of December with facemask , while some quickly went to wash their hands as they got down from their buses . Many notable Nigerian writers graced the occasion , which was also viewed virtually. Notable Nigerian writers who graced the convention include Professor Olu Obafemi, Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Akachi Ezeigbo , Sunday Ododo amongst others.
On the first night of the ANA Convention, there were poetry recitation by a handful of ANA members who came in from different chapters of the association. While some of these recitations were based on the EndSARS movement ,on the role the leaders of Nigeria must play to ensure the safety , well-being and employment of the youth in this country, some others based their poetry recitations on ancient myth and togetherness of the association.
On the second day of the ANA convention, Ilorin woke up slowly as harmattan was gradually descending into the city, participants were seen in small groups at Mustapha Akanbi Foundation,African People’s Hall looking at the array of books on display to buy , before the Programme began.
Chairman Association of Nigerian Authors Kwara State, Adebayo Abdul-Rahman Aderinoye in his address welcomed said though there is a global pandemic COVID-19 but ANA has been able to weather the storm.
Chairperson of the 39th ANA convention , Mrs Harriet Afolabi Oshatimehin, in her welcome address to participants at the convention, said ANA has a crucial role to play in the development of the economy, noting that to a large extent the reading culture of the people has digressed. She said the youth of today are leaders, and ANA must revive the reading culture.
President of ANA, Camillus Ukah said the theme of this year’s ANA convention, ‘In search of a Better world:Literature as a catalyst for National Development, was carefully chosen because literature occupies a cardinal position in the advancement of the human cause.Ukah said this regime of ANA is deeply worried about the continuous decay in our world and has therefore chosen this subject matter of a better world as its thematic focus.
Ukah noted that though many organizations have frozen their annual activities this year because of the global pandemic ,ANA has doggedly held its annual programme. ANA President noted that this year’s convention is built on the commitment of hard work, and his administration understands the generations of sacrifice that have kept ANA elevated amongst its peers.
Ukah stressed in his address at the 39th convention of ANA that a better world is the product of development and its the role of literature in development that advices the conviction that the subject can catalyse the realization of the better world that we all desire.
In the goodwill message Professor Olu Obafemi said he was delighted to be at the 39th ANA convention, stressing the fact that historical moments like this can never be forgotten. He referenced the era when Ken Saro Wiwa was murdered and no one chapter wanted to take it upon itself to host the annual ANA convention , he took it upon himself to host it, noting that he has hope in this convention.
Professor Femi Osofisan’s words were not too far from Professor Olu Obafemi who said he is particularly happy that ANA is able to host its annual convention after the crisis the organization had last year. On his part , another goodwill message which came during the 39th ANA convention was from Dr Wale okediran , secretary general of Pan African writers association, who commended the planning committee of the 39th ANA convention, who had just three months to plan for the convention .
In one of the interactive sections at the 39th ANA convention, Mallam Denja Abdullahi in his address, said ANA needs to look for other ways to promote itself, the media has a role to play , there can be cooperation with government authorities without jeopardizing the integrity of ANA , what the association truly stands for.
At the AGM, which took place at the faculty of Arts at University of Ilorin, issues around the ANA were discussed amongst filing annual returns, getting identity cards for ANA members.
The awards night brought color to the convention with some Nigerian writers going home with their prize, while some others it is a new beginning for them to try again, work much further to clinch the prize another year.
It started with ANA fellowship Awards given to Professor. May Ifeoma Nwoye , Professor Chinedum Uzoma Nwajiuba and Mallam Al-Bashiq
For poetry the first ANA prize 2020 was jointly won by Abiodun Bello’s “Orere: Songs of a Thousand Tides” and James Eze’s “dispossessed”. The winner of this year’s ANA Prose Award was Eagle Drive by Terna Abu while for Drama was Broken Reed by Clementina Kezie. There was also a new prize for Nigerian Secondary Schools named after the late Ikeogu Oke and the winner of that prize was “I See the Future” by Chris Gonoh.