Four female African writers open Ebedi’s 2023 literary calendar
THE Ebedi International Writers Residency in Iseyin, Oyo State, founded by the current Secretary-General of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) and a former president of the Association of Nigeria Authors (ANA), Dr Wale Okediran, kicked off its 2023 literary calendar with the admission of four female African writers.
The writers, Justica Anima (Ghana), Fatima Salihu (Nigeria), Anatu Ben-Lawal (Ghana) and Ramatoulie Onikepo Othman (The Gambia), were last Saturday hosted to a reception by the founder of the residency, Dr Okediran; his wife, Mrs Idowu Okediran; prominent indigenes and residents of Iseyin community, students from different secondary schools where the residency is located and lovers of literature.
In his welcome address, Dr Okediran, who travelled down from Accra, Ghana, to open this year’s residency calendar, walked down memory lane about how it all started in 2010.
He said the idea was to provide a conducive environment for writers to work on, or complete their works in a period of six weeks.
“And since the residency opened its doors to residents 13 years ago, over 180 writers have attended the residency.
“We have also had several literary giants, including Professor Wole Soyinka, visiting us at one period or the other.
“Now, apart from the fact that the residents use the period to focus on their work, the society also benefits as they mentor our younger ones, especially secondary school students, and this has gone a long way in making them discover their hidden talents,” Dr Okediran said.
In his remarks, the chairman on the occasion, who is a prominent lawyer and an indigene of Iseyin, Alhaji Ahmed Raji (SAN), welcomed the residents to Iseyin town.
Raji described the residency as a personal sacrifice of Dr Okediran to boosting literature on the African continent, just as he urged the residents to utilise their time well so they will able to complete the tasks they set for themselves before travelling down to Iseyin.
The lawyer, who was represented by a former chairman of Iseyin Local Government, Alhaji Saheed Alaran, therefore, described the residency as a project of all Iseyin indigene.
“The Ebedi project, although initiated by Dr Okediran, is a project of all Iseyin indigenes. This initiative brings about a cross-fertilisation of knowledge, because as the residents are learning from the community, our students are also learning from the residents, especially those from Nigeria.
“Through the foreign residents, our students now have ideas of other cultures and this is a good thing.
“I, therefore, want to commend Dr Okediran for his commitment to the project,” Barrister Raji said.
Also, a member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Shina Peller, commended Dr Okediran for his resourcefulness and commitment to the development of Iseyin town through literature and politics.
“Dr Okediran had occupied the seat I occupied now and he had contributed immensely to the development of the federal constituency.
“I am, therefore, happy with his antecedents and what he is currently doing to put Iseyin on the global literary map,” Honourable Peller said.
In his lecture entitled, Creative Writing and Residencies, the Head of Department (HOD), Sokoto State University, Dr Nureni Fadare, spoke on the roles of residencies in creative writing, saying it is a place where writers can move away from their day-to-day activities and have the time to themselves to focus on their literary works.
Dr Fadare then highlighted those things expected from writers as they strive to complete their works.
A community leader, Prince Olalekan Olawale, challenged former residents to come together and support the efforts of Dr Okediran.
“The residency belongs to everybody now, including former residents, and it is important everybody comes on board to find ways for it to continue to thrive.
“Dr Okediran has solely been responsible for funding the residency, but he cannot continue to do it for ever, and that is why I suggest that efforts must be put in place to look for support in the area of funding for the residency,” Prince Olalere said.
The residents then spoke about their plan during their stay in Iseyin.
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