Okowa congratulates ANA Prize winner, Stephen Kekeghe, urges him to do more

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 Poet appreciates governor, tasks him on facilities to support talented Delta youths

By Godwin Okondo

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has continued his felicitations with citizens of the state who are doing well and bringing uncommon honour to the state. He recently congratulated the author of ‘Rumbling Sky’, Dr Stephen Ese Kekeghe, for emerging joint winner of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Prize for Poetry 2021. Similarly, when Isoko-born Othuke Umukoro won the Brunei International Poetry Prize last April, Okowa had equally congratulated him for bring glory to the state.

Stephen Kekeghe

Kekeghe, a lecturer of English at Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, who had previously lectured at the College of Education, Warri, was conferred with the prestigious award at the association’s 40th Anniversary and International Convention in Abuja. Okowa’s felicitation with the Imode-born poet from Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State was conveyed in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba. Okowa said Kekeghe, a researcher with bias in inter-disciplinary studies, medical and environmental humanities, post-colonial and gender studies as well as creative writing, was one of Nigeria’s rising literary giants, adding that the best was yet to come from him.

The governor lauded the poet whose first and second degrees were obtained at Delta State University, Abraka, and University of Ibadan, for his brilliant contribution to poetry genre and for bringing honour and fame to himself and to Delta State.
“On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I congratulate Dr. Stephen Ese Kekeghe for emerging joint winner of the ANA Prize for Poetry, 2021,” the governor said. “As a state, we are particularly proud of your sterling contributions to the development of the literary world and it is our prayer that you work harder to win more laurels.”
Kekeghe is also the author of ‘Pond of Leeches’, a play which has been staged in several universities in Nigeria and ‘Chants of Memories’, a collection of poems already published in different print and online outlets. Other creative work by the award-winning poet are also at advanced stages of completion.

Kekeghe expressed joy at the chief executive of his state’s heartwarming wishes for his poetic accomplishment, saying how much honoured he felt at being acknowledged in his home state where his journey as a creative writer began. He commended the governor for upgrading three institutions to university statuses in the state, saying it was a remarkable move that will reposition the state for greatness.
However, Kekeghe appealed to Governor Okowa to rejuvenate the arts industry by building world class facilities that will promote all the domains of artistic expressions – creative writing, theatrical performances, music, dance and comedy. He lamented that with the state’s array of talented stars in all areas of the creative industry – from literature to Nollywood, comedy to performance arts, music to fashion, and more, the state does not have any supporting facility to assist her teeming and talented young people to excel.

The poet noted that the capital, Asaba was yet to have a single befitting theatre, as theatrical performances meant to entertain the governor like late Prof. Sam Ukala did with his award-winning play, ‘Iredi War’, are held at the restricted state executive chamber. Kekeghe expressed confidence in Governor Okowa’s ability to resuscitate the arts industry by way of building world class institutions. 
He also expressed the hope that Okowa will still use his remaining few years in office to create something monumental for the creative sector that he will be remembered by. Only in creating structures for the arts and culture sector, Kekeghe emphasized, that lasting legacies can be guaranteed. Kekeghe argued that it was not too late for Governor Okowa to start projects like building three world class theatres and museums spread across the three senatorial districts of the state to cater for the abundance of youth talents. He also noted that such facilities have the double benefits of creating jobs for youths in the state who are prune to restiveness on account of lack of opportunities to direct their brimming energy.

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