Garden City Literary Festival 2010

The 3rd Garden City Literary Festival (GCLF) took place from Wednesday 8th to Saturday 11th of December 2010 in Port Harcourt with the theme Nigeria: 50 Years of Post-Colonial Literature.

Special guest writers proposed for the festival were Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and Nobel Laureate Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio. Le Clezio could not make it but sent a video recorded message.

The Festival was opened by the Executive Governor of Rivers State the Rt.Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi on Wednesday 8th December at the University of Port Harcourt. A keynote address on the theme; Nigerian Literature @ 50: Challenges and Prospects, was delivered by Professor Olu Obafemi of the University of Ilorin. Over 1350 people turned out at the Ebitimi Banigo Hall where the event held. A Literature Conference, which followed immediately after, was facilitated by the Association of Nigerian Authors.

A highlight of the festival was an International Conference and Press Forum with Nobel Laureate Prof.Wole Soyinka which took place at the Senate Chambers of the University of Port Harcourt. Theme of the Conference was Literature and the Challenges of the 21st Century. Another highlight was an awards gala where 50 outstanding Nigerian writers were honoured. In attendance was the vice President of Nigeria Engineer Namadi Sambo as well as the Minister of Education (State) Ologorun Kenneth Gbagi.

Other events were the Garden City Book Fair, a photo exhibition, interactive sessions between authors and readers, writers’ workshops (for adults and children), an arts workshop for children, drama presentations. An essay competition for primary school students in Rivers State on the topic Nigeria: 50 years from now had held earlier in the year and the best three students were awarded prizes.

Also part of the GCLF 2010 programme was a 2 days’ workshop of non-fiction writing with Reuben Abati; Prose writing with Helon Habilaand Adaobi Nwaubani; and Poetry and Drama with Zainabu Jallo.

There were two seminars; The Rise of Social Media Use and Its effect on the book industry in Nigeria, moderated by US-based author Myne Whitman and it had as discussants notable publishers such as; Bibi Bakare (Cassava Republic), Muhtar Bakare (Farafina), Bankole Olayebi (Book Craft), and Austin Onwubiko (Africana First Publishers).  The Business of Writing, the other seminar session, was chaired by novelist and scholar, Eze (Prof.) Chukwuemeka Ike.

The festival had Role Models read to children. M.D. MNet Africa, Mrs. Biola Alabi engaged 100 children for almost 2 hours as she read from the book The Legend: Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.  Writers who read to the children were; Prof.Wole Soyinka (from Ake his childhood memoirs), Zainabu Jallo and Kaine Agary (from Jaja of Opobo).

The Children And The Environment (CATE) Team, author Sola Alamutu and six others, took 100 Children, (fifty senior primary and fifty junior secondary school) through a two day Creative Writing/Arts workshop around the theme My Nigeria Story.

On the last day of the festival the children showcased what they had learnt in the workshops through art, dance and drama. Mrs. Kalango then presented the over 200 students with a ‘bag of books’, donated by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency.

Drama presentations at the festival were Femi Osofisan’s Love’s Unlike Lading and Odia Ofeimun’s.  A Feast Of Return.


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