By Ovat Abeng
Society of Young Nigerian Writers (SYNW), Anambra State Chapter, has commended Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo for renaming Anambra State International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri, after late Prof. Chinua Achebe.
The commendation was contained in a statement signed and made available to Journalists in Awka on Monday, by Mr. Izunna Okafor, coordinator, Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Anambra State Chapter.
The statement reads in part;
“We, the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (SYNW), Anambra State Chapter, joyfully commend and celebrate the esteemed Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, for his extraordinary decision to immortalize the late Nigerian literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe. This historic act was unveiled on Sunday, October 1, during the 2023 Independence Day celebration at the Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, the capital of Anambra State.
“The news of renaming the Anambra State International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri, after Prof. Chinua Achebe filled our hearts with boundless joy. It is an affirmation of the value and significance of literature in our society.
“As young writers, we have consistently championed the call for the immortalization of Chinua Achebe through our annual program, the Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture. This initiative, which we initiated in 2016, serves as a platform to honor Achebe’s enduring legacy. We hold this event at the Anambra State Central E-Library, Awka, where we also unveil an international poetry/essay anthology (Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology) annually in his honor. Writers from across the globe participate in this initiative, and we are excited to announce that the 8th edition of the anthology will be released this year, coinciding with the 2023 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture.
“Each year during the festival, we passionately reiterated our call for the government to immortalize Achebe, emphasizing the injustice of neglecting such a world-class intellectual. We lamented the demoralizing effect this had on upcoming writers and the youth. We observed that while politicians and moneybags were celebrated and immortalized, literary champions like Achebe had not received the recognition they deserved.
“In recent editions of the event, we re-echoed this same call, urging the Anambra State Government to rename the Anambra State International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri, after Achebe, and to establish an International Writers Residency in his honour, since there are just two (even privately-owned) writers residencies in Nigeria, and given that Anambra, being a home and cradle of many world-class writers, ought to have, at least, one writers residency.
“Despite our persistent appeals, our pleas fell on deaf ears until the conclusion of the immediate-past administration of Chief Willie Obiano. However, we remained unwavering in our quest, even during the tenure of Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo.
“Today, we express our deepest gratitude to Governor Soludo for heeding our call and fulfilling one of our requests to immortalize Achebe. This act is not only a precious and best Independence Day gift to Anambra writers, but to writers nationwide and beyond. By granting this request he has won our hearts and support as young writers here in Anambra State. We cannot thank him enough for this profound gesture.
“While thanking the Governor for fulfilling one part of our request, we respectfully appeal to him to consider fulfilling the second part of our request — establishing the Chinua Achebe International Writers Residency in Anambra State. This residency would be of immense importance and impact. Many of us have been fortunate to participate in writers’ residencies across Nigeria and worldwide, and we long for such a prestigious institution in our beloved state. As we prepare for the 2023 Chinua Achebe Literary Festival and Memorial Lecture scheduled for November 16th this year, this additional announcement from our dear Governor would be a dream come true.
“In conclusion, Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo’s decision to immortalize our role model, Prof. Chinua Achebe, demonstrates that being an intellectual is a noble virtue deserving of recognition. He has broken the jinx and inspired us to follow in Achebe’s footsteps. By solving and granting this our age-old request, the Governor has proved to us again that Solution is here. This legacy is already etched in the sands of time, and posterity will forever remember him for such historic act.”