By Gerald Ede
IT was again a time of celebration and reflection on the literary journey of the renowned writer, critic and snail-sense feminism theorist, Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, as the crème de la crème in the academia and literary world converged on Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (AE-FUNAI), Ebonyi State, for the public presentation of a masterpiece on the literary icon titled The Writer in the Mirror: Conversations with Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo. The book, a definitive collection of interviews of the consummate scholar and mentor to many, was edited by Dr. Evelyn Urama, a lecturer at the Department of English and Literary Studies, AE-FUNAI. It was the second time in four years that a book on the unassuming literary doyenne would be publicly presented in AE-FUNAI, a clear testament to her ever-green relevance in the academia.
The event had in attendance the Vice-Chancellor of Coal City University, Prof. Sam Icha-Ituma and the book’s chief presenter, Apostle Nnamdi Mbaigbo and other principal officers of the university. Other dignitaries that graced the occasion included the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Zjil Nwangele, the Vice Chancellor of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, represented by the university’s DVC Academic and husband of the book’s editor, Prof. Johnson Urama, the Vice Chancellor of Coal City University, Prof. Afam Icha-Ituma, and book’s chief presenter, Apostle Nnamdi Mbaigbo, Professors Amanze Austin Akpuda, Collins Ubochi and C. Nnorom of Abia State University, Imo State University respectively, event’s guest speaker, Dr. Patrick Oloko, President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Mr. Camillus Ukah, who also represented the Secretary-General of Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), Dr. Wale Okediran, Evangelist Sunday Asogwa, the celebrant’s sister and Mother of the Day, Prof. Chinyere Okunna, and the celebrant’s husband, Prof. Chris Ezeigbo. The event commenced after an opening prayer by Prof. Michael Onuu.
The Vice Chancellor of AE-FUNAI and chief host, Prof. Elom, who declared the event open, recalled his enthusiasm for literature in his secondary school days, even though he was a science student, and thanked God and the husband of the celebrant for ‘loaning’ her to the university. He described the celebrant as a huge blessing to AE-FUNAI and thanked her for choosing to remain with the university despite other opportunities elsewhere. He said he still identifies with literature and would continue to support literary activities in the university.
In his opening address, chairman of the occasion, Emeritus Professor Olu Obafemi, who was represented by the DVC Academics of AE-FUNAI, Prof. Dennis Akoh, eulogised the immense literary contributions of the celebrant and prayed God to keep her for AE-FUNAI and the academia for many more years. He also praised the efforts of the editor of the book, Dr. Urama, whose humble submission to the mentorship of the celebrant, he noted, made the publication of the book possible.
Dean, Faculty of Humanities and event’s co-host, Prof. Romanus Ejiaga, enthused about the celebrant’s diverse mentoring roles in the faculty and described her as a mother to all. Then the Head of Department, English and Literary Studies, Dr. John Otu, expressed joy about the event and enjoined guests to enjoy the moment it provided. This was followed by a performance of the celebrant’s poem ‘Ram Syndrome on Insecurity’ by students of the department, with co-ordination from a lecturer with the department, Mr. Mascot Nwakanma.
The guest speaker and former student of Adimora-Ezeigbo, Dr. Patrick Oloko, expressed pleasure at the opportunity to be present, saying the presence of many science-based professionals at the occasion was a vivid illustration of the umbilical relationship between science and literature, a relationship, he noted, the literary subgenre of science fiction makes even more vivid. He further remarked that the celebrant always builds an ‘institution’ of relationships wherever she goes, noting particularly the strong bond that has existed between her and all the 12 PhD students she supervised over the course of her lecturing career at the University of Lagos. He also said the editor of the book was privileged to be associated with Prof. Adimora-Ezeigbo and praised her noble efforts in collecting and editing the interviews in the book.
In a citation by one her former PhD students, Dr. Benedict Onuora Nweke, the academic qualifications and impressive career trajectory of Adimora-Ezeigbo, including her advocacy for women’s rights, gender equality and prolific literary productivity awed the audience. Dr. Nweke described the celebrant as a retired but not tired accomplished academic and writer, who has written works in all the literary genres, in addition to numerous critical essays and articles. The citation highlighted some of the literary awards of the celebrant, including the ANA literary prize and the NLNG-sponsored The Nigeria Prize for Literature, which she also currently chairs its board.
The book’s editor, Urama, noted with delight the important mentoring roles of Adimora-Ezeigbo, whom she called her second mother since she joined AE-FUNAI in 2015. She expressed joy at being associated with Adimora-Ezeigbo and recalled the celebrant’s unwavering support and training she has received as an editor of AE-FUNAI creative writing activities prepared her for the task of editing the masterpiece on the literary icon. She further thanked her family, friends and members of staff of the English and Literary Studies Department of AE-FUNAI who supported her to make the book presentation a reality.
The book was officially unveiled after an imaginative and highly engaging review by Otu. Thereafter, Adimora-Ezeigbo thanked all the guests and expressed deep appreciation to the AE-FUNAI’s vice chancellor, whose understanding and magnanimity made the occasion a success. She also expressed her love for Ebonyi, the host state of AE-FUNAI, describing Abakaliki as a second home she would always love to live in. Dr. Christy Chukwu offered the closing prayer.
* Ede is a final year student of Department of English and Literary Studies, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (AE-FUNAI), Ebonyi State