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2015 ANA Presidency: My Personal Thoughts

Posted: Jun 22, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Maryam Bobi

Many things will make 2015 Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) presidency interesting: it is a contest of friends; it is a contest of our fathers, and it is a contest of competent people all through. But most importantly, the contestants are genuine, serious and credible writers. They all have their outreach across chapters; they have friends in all the regions. It is exciting that the contest is between Uncle Baba and Mallam Denja. If you think it is going to be messy then you are mistaken. 

Uncle BabaHowever, my personal thought is not on the above but constantly fixed on one thing; the choice of the Vice Presidents by the leading contenders. Mallam Denja has Mr. Camilus as his partner while Uncle Baba chose Dr. Ngozi Chuma Udeh the Dean of Arts, Anambra State University as his partner.
Mr. Camilus is one of the close fathers we have in ANA. We have countless of them, some of whom are not members here but have performed different roles in our journey to becoming writers, especially we the females. Permit me to mention a few of them: Uncle Diego, Uncle Ahmed Maiwada, Uncle Kamar, Dr. Okediran, Mallam Denja, Mr. Camilus, Prof. Remi Raji, Dr. A K Babajo, Mallam Salihu Bappa and many others.

Of course, the level and intensity of their participation in our growth and development vary. I must pick out three whose presence in our lives is legendary. They are Uncle Ahmed Maiwada, Uncle Diego and Mr. Camilus. They are always with us at the Hill-Top Art Centre, our home. Uncle Ahmed financed the entire seven anthologies published for seven schools in Minna in 2007, he financed the publication of Zainab Manko’s ‘Penalty of an Orphan’ while still in secondary school. Thanks to Uncle Baba’s ability to work with people from different
backgrounds.  His involvement in our growth is a whole subject for a book. Mr. Camilus visits us regularly at the Art Centre, he has presented papers on us abroad for over two times, he has done so in Nigeria too. Uncle Baba has also visited Imo State to commission Art centres in two schools.

We have learnt a lot from these exchanges of our fathers. As for Uncle Diego, whatever Uncle Ahmed , Camilus and others have done in our lives, they are only building on top of his.
When Daily Trust (Weekly Trust) started as a Newspaper, Uncle Diego was one of her pioneer staff. Saddiq Dzukogi, still in Primary 5 was featured by Uncle Diego. He contributed poems to the Weekly Trusters; I also contributed stories then. Today, we are being counted as writers in Nigeria. So, if Mallam Denja becomes the President of ANA with Mr. Camilus as the Vice President, I would have nothing to lose except one thing; the closeness of a female writer towards becoming the President of ANA.

Although, I am yet to decide who will take it, but this constant thought of having a female President for ANA is becoming naughty in me.
Dr. Ngozi Chuma Udeh is Uncle Baba’s partner. The mistake you will be making is to think that his choice was political. I read Isaac Ogezi’s response to his post announcing Dr. Ngozi as his partner on facebook.

“This is a masterstroke,” he had exclaimed.  But checkout Uncle Baba’s life with us as young writers around him, he loves to be balanced in his affairs. Personally, I think his sympathy for the girls is more. He has never hidden his preference for the girls. He says so regularly to all of us, he has said so in his books Young Couples, Young Home and Sex is Beautiful. Even if Saddiq is standing there he will tell you that boys are no children. He once caused aggravated scorn at our Assembly ground in Hill-Top Model School, Minna while I was the Head Girl.

He was addressing the congregation as the Duty Master for the day:  “I love girls more than the boys because they are more obedient and they come 1st in the class position.” The male
teachers didn’t like the public ‘condemnation of the male’. But Uncle Baba has strong will to say what is on his mind, all the time. He has never been afraid as far as I know. So, partnering with Dr. Ngozi as the Vice President is a natural way of Uncle Baba’s life. Ok, look at the first set of books in the Minna Literary Series – three boys, three girls. That’s Uncle Baba for you.
Over time, many have wondered, including some men why Prof Akachi, Prof Zainab Alkali, Chinyere Obi-Obasi, Maryam Okediran, Dr Ngozi  Chuma Udeh, Chief Charry Ada or Lola Shoneyin have not become the President of ANA.

If women actually believe in their strength as a gender that can attain quality and heights in life and in the writer’s body then they appear to a friend and sympathiser Uncle Baba. This might eventually be the straw that will break many backs,  come October 2015. And where is the convention holding, anyway?

Bobi is the author of Bongel.