The President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Mr. Camillus Chima Ukah has described the Mamman Vatsa Writers’ Village as the biggest writers’ resort in Africa.
The President made the statement recently at the August edition of the Mbari Series, the monthly writers’ parley, at the Mamman Vatsa Writers’ Village, Mpape, Abuja.
He said the present level of development of the Writers’ Village was achieved by his administration’s policy of development by progressive addition.
In his words, “We have been able to realise the magnificent Chinua Achebe International Conference Centre, a functional secretariat with offices for principal officers, a hotel, a physical library with shelves that can take thousands of books, an E-library with over 200 million books, and the Institute for Creative Writing and Film Studies, which is ready to take off any time soon.”
Mr. Ukah further explained that the 50-room capacity hotel is now functional, and that the hotel area has been redesigned to accommodate more facilities in addition to apartments that are still coming up.
“We have made tremendous progress, in fact, magical progress. And this has consolidated the leadership of Nigerian literature in the continent and beyond,” he said.
Speaking on the Mbari Series, Mr. Ukah said it is very dear to his heart and that reviving it is one of his greatest achievements as the President of ANA.
He said, “We are creative people and critical thinkers, the main content of our calling is intellectual. And that is what we have achieved by reviving the Mbari Series, which was initiated by our founding fathers at Ibadan in the 1960s. Today we have a very vibrant Mbari Series where you have writers and other intellectuals coming together to rub minds on critical issues of literary and national interest. It has become an intellectual hub for Nigeria.”
He said the August edition of the Mbari Series was dedicated to the renowned writer, intellectual, social critic, Professor Udenta O. Udenta, on his 60th birthday, because he was one of the brains behind the revival of the parley.
According to him, “On my coming into office, I undertook familiarisation visits to stakeholders in Abuja. Professor Udenta was among the people I visited, and it was in his house that the idea of reviving the Mbari Series was mooted through casual conversation. And very quickly we started. I hosted the first edition and then he took over the hosting. He has been hosting for close to two years now.”
He stressed that Professor Udenta has made a lot of financial and intellectual commitment to the growth of literature and deserved to be celebrated.
The President thanked members of the ANA exco, the congress and the elders, stressing that the achievements recorded wouldn’t have been possible without their cooperation and support, given the fact that he assumed office amidst leadership crisis.
He said, “My resolve was that one moment of crisis should not define the association which has been very illustrious. Hence, I decided to go beyond the extra mile to move ANA forward, especially by ensuring the development of the writers’ village, which was also one of the major points of controversy and concern. I thank the ANA land developer for his unwavering commitment all through my tenure. I’m happy that with the cooperation of all the stakeholders my two-term tenure is coming to an end on a successful note.”
On the current state of ANA state chapters, he said, “We have achieved stability in the branches where there were misunderstandings before. They are now running smoothly.”
He added that the national secretariat is currently undertaking membership revalidation and soon there would be an authentic register of members with a central ID card from the national secretariat, and new members could be added online.
The August Mbari Series, themed ‘Writers in Politics – A Dialogue on Literature, Politics and Nationhood’, featured literary discourse, readings, drama performance and the presentation of Professor Udenta’s book, Revolutionary Aesthetics and the African Literary Process.
The occasion was attended by many renowned writers, including Professor Emeka Aniagolu, who moderated the event, and Malam Denja Abdullahi, the immediate past ANA President, who served as one of the discussants.
* Sumaila Umaisha is a writer based in Abuja