Professor Remi Raji, ANA President, was all smiles at the end of the reading. It was the first time, since he became the Nigerian writers’ guild boss in 2011, a chapter of the association would be hosting him in a reading session as a guest writer.
Recently, the Abuja chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), in line with an established tradition of hosting quality writers in its guest reading sessions, hosted Professor Raji, Thursday, July 4, 2013, at the Savannah Suites Hotel, Abuja.
It was a memorable day for the teacher of Literature and Creative Writing in the Department of English, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where he doubles as the Dean, Faculty of Arts. Expressing his appreciation to ANA Abuja for considering him for the guest reading, he said as it was the first time to be so honoured in Nigeria.
His citation, read as the event started, spoke volumes of his literary merits, including being the author of six volumes of poetry: A Harvest of Laughters (1997), Lovesong for My Wasteland (2005), Gather My Blood Rivers of Song (2009) and Sea of My Mind (2013).
Reading from his poetry collections –Gather my Blood Rivers of Song and Sea of my Mind, Remi Raji proved the teacher in him by turning the session into a participatory one, as members of the audience joined him in a lively reading session.
The Open Mic session saw different poets reading their poems, while members of the troupe, One House Crew, led by Time Bello, performed to the admiration of the ecstatic audience.
Mr. Oluwaseun Odukoya of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Abuja, in concert with a team of performing artistes, did a marvellous dramatic rendition of the poem “Sea of My Mind” in English and Yoruba.
Similarly, members of Junior ANA (students from the FCT College of Education, Zuba), led by their HOD, English, Mr. Abdulmalik Yusuf, rendered a beautiful song in praise of the union of older and younger members of Abuja ANA. The day’s swansong was performed by Dike Chukwumerije, the acclaimed Master of the Spoken Word, in Abuja literary circle.
Present on the occasion were members the National Exco of ANA: Mrs Chinyere Obi-Obasi and Ahmed Maiwada, as well as some members of the diplomatic community.
On behalf of the host association, Mr. Izuchukwu Okeke, a journalist, thanked all for making the event, promising that ANA Abuja would soon kick-start its monthly reading/critiquing session in the Lapour Hotel, Utako Abuja.
Commenting on his impression of the event, an elated Edwin Orhibabor, who chairs the association in Abuja, said: “It was a well-packaged event befitting of a celebrity in the person of Professor Remi Raji. Hosting the president of ANA in my time as the Abuja Chair, to say the least, is a remarkable highpoint in the annals of ANA. I am happy to be part of history that gives credence to the promotion of literature, reading and writing for development.”
Raji has been a visiting professor and poet to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Universities of California at Riverside and Irvine, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Stockholm’s University, Sweden; Cambridge University, UK; and Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. His poetry has been translated into French, German, Catalan, Swedish, Ukrainian, Latvian, Croatian and Hungarian.
The scholar-poet has featured in a number of major literary festivals, including Poetry Afrika (South Africa), Barcelona Forum, Mahalta Poetry Festival and the Mediterranean Poetry Festival (Spain), Berlin Poetry Festival (Germany), and the Lviv Book Forum (Ukraine), among others.
He was African editor of Drumvoices Revue –Journal of Contemporary Arts and Literature (1999-2010). His latest academic publication is entitled Playful Blasphemies: Postproverbials as Archetypes of Modernity in Yoruba Culture (2012).