By Henry Akubuiro
The Afe Babalola Auditorium, University of Lagos, Akoka, recently played host to the national body of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), led by Mr. Camillus Ukah, for its investiture ceremony of Dr. Bukola Ladoja, the President of Reading Awareness Society for Development in Africa (RASDA), as “ANAAmbassador”.
In a colourful event attended by dignitaries from Oyo State,, Lagos and Ogun state governments, and chaired by Chief Kola Karim, CEO, Shoreline Group, the Agbaoye of Ibadanland, the latter said he had followed the former First Lady of Oyo State’s love for education for years, lauding her for using her office to promote reading in the state.
ANA President, Ukah, in his remarks, noted that the ANA A-Book-A- Child project was aimed at resuscitating reading culture from the foundation stage, even as he enjoined donours to support the project by donating books to the association, who would, in turn, shared them to young endusers nationwide. He reminded all that the 40th ANA Convention would be held in ANA Writers’ Village in Abuja later this year for the first time. He charged the ANA Ambassador to win more hearts for the association and continue to encourage reading culture in Nigeria.
Highlighting the importance of literature to the society, Mr Ukah said, “Ideas, it is said, rule the world, but it’s creativity that rules the world, and that has to do with reading. The movement from analogue to digital is a function of creativity, and literature nurtures creativity, because literature deals with imagination, and the story in our imagination is what guides us.”
Mr. Ukah said, since inception, when ANA was founded by Professor Chinua Achebe and other eminent writers, the association had continued to nurture budding writers, young and old, to ensure that literature flourished in Nigeria.
He described Ibadan as the centre of creativity in Nigeria, for it was in the University of Ibadan that the Achebes, Soyinkas, Clarks and Okigbos of this world honed their craft.
He also noted that Ibadan had produced ANA presidents and had continued to be one of the most active chapters of the association till date. Little wonder, Dr. Ladoja came from there.
In his remarks, the Oyo State Chapter Chairman of the ANA, Mr. Taslim Abiola Layonu, said it was a deserving honour to Dr. Ladoja, a promoter of reading and books.
He declared, “There is no doubt that our honoree has distinguished herself as a highly remarkable woman of substance. She is imbued with a super intellect,” adding that her “acumen, capability, capacity and dexterity to mobilise and arouse the interest of our young teeming population towards imbibing reading culture is unparalleled.”
In her response, Dr Bukola Ladoja said she grew up reading books but was disappointed that youths of today paid little attention to reading books. Reading, she said, was the easiest way to empower a child. She, therefore encouraged students to be voracious readers.
“I support what the ANA President said on reading a book a day, seven books a week, and 52 books a year for our children. The benefits they will derive from doing this are enormous.
She told the audience she worked as a journalist and expanded her horizon in higher education. That exposure, she said, contributed to her being who she was today. “We should go back to reading,” she echoed. “Children, are you listening to me? If you don’t know, you won’t know. She enjoined all to be part of history by encouraging the young ones to read. “Let’s support ANA’a A-Book-A-Child.”
Dr. Wale Okediran, PAWA Secretary-General, who spoke virtually from his Accra base in Ghana, said PAWA would synergise with the new ANA Ambassador to promote literature across the African continent.
Senator Ladoja, husband of Dr Ladoja, said he was delighted that his wife was chosen for such honour from Africa’s largest writers’ guild. He assured his wife would serve ANA well in her new role.