Umezurike, Ibrahim, Chukwumerije light up Enugu BookJam
A regular literary feast has arrived the rolling hills of Enugu. Since early 2016, the newly formed Enugu Literary Society (EnLS) has brought the Coal City alive with Open Mic readings and contemporary literary discourse. Recently, the readings went up a notch as the society organised the first Enugu BookJam – a special reading featuring established and aspiring authors.
The Enugu Open-Mic Reading/Book Jam is the brainchild of Radio Nigeria Enugu National Station in collaboration with Enugu Literary Society. It serves as gathering of art lovers to showcase their works and talents in diverse artistic forms.
Held at Radio Nigeria, Enugu, the BookJam featured award-winning writers, Uche Peter Umezurike from Owerri and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim from Abuja. Hosted by Mr. Ken Ike Okere and Mr. Dike Chukwumerije, the event was in two parts: the BookJam, which featured Umezurike and Abubakar, and the Open Mic reading for short stories, poetry, spoken word, songs and drama. It featured South East’s finest poets, spoken word artists and writers.
Ibrahim and Umezurike are both award-winning, contemporary writers who have distinguished themselves. Ibrahim is on the longlist for The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2016 for his book, Season of Crimson Blossoms.
The authors fielded questions from the audience about their life, their writing process, challenges, triumphs and future plans. Ibrahim, who is also a journalist, said, “I studied art and it gave me the courage to walk up to people, ask them questions and without wavering, they start talking”.
Umezurike, author of Aridity of Feelings and The Runaway Hero, noted that he started writing when he was at the lowest ebb of his career and that writing has prevented him from going into depression.
According to him, “We should encourage the younger generation to take our culture seriously. The world is evolving and it’s a knowledge industry”.
Both authors had a crowd of adoring fans.
At the Open Mic session, Zonal Director Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Enugu National Station, Mr. Okere urged Nigerians to work collectively for the preservation of the country’s literary culture for its development.
Since inception, the event has not only captured upcoming artists but also caught the attention of notable literary personalities such as spoken words giant, Mr. Chukwumerije but a reputable book publisher like Chief Uche Anioke of the Acena Bookstores.
Also, Mr. Okere said the BokJam idea was to create a forum for relaxation, where individuals could enjoy the beauty of the written and spoken word. According to him, the arts – music and literature – were the parameters used in determining the civilization of any society and it behoved everyone to cultivate the habit of reading.
“We must make efforts to move our society away from just a society purely concerned about eating, drinking, making money, and trading. The arts and literature help us get into the final phase of life,” he said.
The event also featured captivating performances from young artists, such as Miss Amarachi Atama, who offered a soul-spinning rendition in Igbo on some societal issues. Another up-coming spoken-words artist, Uka Chukwumerije had his piece about Nigeria’s ills and how they overcome them.
“This is not the nation/ our leaders had wished/ but when you refuse to develop your area,/yet you fly your kids abroad/ to treat malaria,/not when you cannot marry he/ because you are Igbo/and she is from Calabar./Not when I can buy a product/because it is made in Aba/and not when she cannot get a job/because she is Yoruba”.
Others included a little girl, Amarachi Agbo, whose presentation centred on “August Meeting and the materialistic way most women view it” while another emotional writer, Miss Joyce Agbo, in her short story, painted a vivid picture of the pain and trauma, which rape victims undergo in the society.
Highlights of the occasion included a book exhibition, special interactive session between the audience the two award-winning authors, Ibrahim and Umezurike.
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