By Hammeed M. Bello
The University of Abuja is holding the Abuja International Conference on Language and Literature with a focus on Odia Ofeimun’s works to commemorate the author’s unrelenting zeal and determination to bring a change in the ethical, social and cultural life of the Nigerian people.
The conference is a platform that brings together researchers for cross-fertilisation of ideas on intellectual and national development in all spheres captured by the writers and critics towards national reconstruction.
The theme of the conference is The Writer in the Evolving Democracies and is billed to hold from September 15 to 18 at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja. Tagged the OFEIMUNCONFAB, the conference has other sub-themes which include language, politics and literature, performing arts, language and globalisation, dictatorship and creative imagination, human rights and reorientation through literature, feminism, Marxism and the new sexism.
Others are the poet and civil war discourse, gender advancement and critics, psychology language and literature, conflict resolution and the advancement of peace in literature, engineering infrastructural development, democratisation and good governance in creative arts, language, literature and sustainable development and ethnicity, racism, religion and democracy.
Participants at the conference are expected to submit an abstract of more than 250 words to email@example.com. Author are expected to include their sub-themes, name, title address, e-mail and phone numbers using MS word, New Times Roman font size 12 with double line spacing.
The conference participation is expected to cut across disciplines including arts and humanities, linguistics and communication arts, literature and theatre arts, psychology and sociology, social science, law and religion.
And as was once succinctly captured by Chimamanda Adichie, writers use the medium of storytelling to empower, empathise and to humanise, and the poems of Odia Ofeimun undoubtedly fall in this category.
Odia, like Adichie, conveniently falls into the category of Nigerian writers who could be described as contemporary post modern, or in some sense transcendental artists in that both writers attempt to experiment with a particular genre of literature and give it some unique character.
While Adichie concentrates on prose fiction in telling her stories using elegant language and alluring style, Odia more often prefers the dramatic poetry which he renders with finesse and candour. This perhaps justifies the international recognition accorded both writers for their excellence in storytelling.
Odia had won the Fonlon Nichols award administered by the African Literature Association and given to an African writer every year for excellence in creative writing and for positive contribution to the struggle for human right and freedom of expression.
Author of eight collections of poems and numerous essays on political analysis and cultural criricism, Ofeimun’s most recent volumes include Go Tell the Grenerals, A Boiling Caracas and Other Poems and I Will Ask Questions With Stones If They Take My Voice, and Lagos of the Poets, a poetry anthology.
In 2008, a collection of his poetry was published in Spanish translation. Odia is no doubt a leading proponent of the socialist realist tradition of poetry who has demonstrated the writer’s total commitment to the radical transformation of society caught in the unholy and rapacious embrace of neo-imperialist and neo-colonialist social order.
Odia is certainly among the flag bearers of a generation of angry Nigerian writers whose works protest alienation in all its forms. Odia was born in Iruekpen-Ekuma in Edo State on March 16, 1950, and in 2000, he published three volumes of poetry to mark his 50th birthday anniversary: A Feast of Return under African Skies, Dreams at Work and other Poems, and London Letter and Other Poems.