Pawa holds annual lecture
Professor Femi Osofisan, the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) Vice President for West Africa, says there is the need for African leaders to go beyond meetings and summits on the proposed one African state in order to see to its realization in the possible shortest time.
Prof. Osofisan noted that: “African unity is not about meetings and cocktails by Africa leaders “; instead it is about taking pragmatic and realistic steps towards cultural, economic and political integration among African states.
Prof. Osofisan made the observations when he delivered the fourth PAWA Annual Lecture on the occasion of the celebration of the 15th International African Writers’ Day recently at the Naguib Mahfouz and Wole Soyinka Courtyards, PAWA House, Accra.
Speaking on “Shifting the gains of the glass: The African Dictator and the making of African Unity”, Prof. Osofisan has emerged as one of the leading contemporary creative writers and the media for not researching enough to expose the rot and negatives in the policies of African governments which have been the bane of the African continent.
He said even though some African governments prosecute and harass some writers for expressing dissenting views on policies, writers must muster all the courage they are capable of to expose the negatives in government policies in order to develop the African continent.
The idea of continental African Unity which has continued to offer itself as a viable and feasible possibility, was not because of “random political attempts but rather largely because of the works of literature that the writers produce’’, paid glowing tribute to celebrate African writers such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Kofi Awoonor, Ama Ataa Aidoo and others.
He further noted that, one of the ironies of the history of Africa was that, as soon the ‘‘colonialists retreated, the call for Africa Unity faded to the background’’.
That, he attributed to the fact that the major players and combatants in the quest for African Unity were sidelined or booted out to power early citing the overthrow of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sekou Toure of Guinea as examples.
He further mentioned the regimes of Presidents Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya as drawbacks in the struggle for African Unity as they saw their countries as their bonafide properties.
As far as realization of African Unity is concerned, he said the contribution of the African writer cannot be over emphasized because it was the “African writer who contributed most to sustain the vision of the continental unity”.
He further observed that, “literature is the glass of history which provides a mirror by which people see themselves” and therefore challenged African writers to make “literary interventions more conscious and more ideologically determined in the heart of African Unity”.
Prof. Akilagpa Sawyerr, the Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities (AAU) who was chairman for the lecture, in his remarks, congratulated African writers on their creative quality of mirroring universal truths by posing the ills in their respective countries, and further charged the African writer to “create ideas which change other existing ideas.
The Secretary-General of PAWA Prof. Atukwei Okai in his remarks hinted that, PAWA was in talks with other institutions to organize a six month course in playwriting for students and the public in general.
The Secretary-General said that, the PAWA Annual Lecture was instituted as part of PAWA’s efforts to “sensitise the African people to the basic truism of their common destiny through literature”.
He paid glowing tribute to the previous speakers, in the persons of Prof. Mazrui, Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Literature Laureate from South Africa and the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Zimbabwe, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira.
As tradition, Professor Osofisan was presented with a plague of the PAWA emblem as well as the PAWA stool of Royalty, with PAWA’s Logo embossed on it after the lecture.
Times Weekend Page: 13 Saturday, November 24, 2007