It was an evening of enlightenment, entertainment and fun at the June book-of-the-month reading ofPort Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014. The monthly reading designed as part of the activities marking the World Book Capital year held on Sunday 29that the Royal Banquet Hall, Hotel Presidential.
Teeming lovers of literature started trooping to the venue one hour before the event slated for 3.00pm. It was a gathering of members of the Rainbow Book Club, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), students from tertiary and secondary institutions as well as lovers of books and drama from across the Garden City.The reading was moderated by Michael Asuquo comprising of two discussants Kemi Hughes and TeingoInko-Tariah;all members of the growing ‘Port Harcourt Writers Hangout’.
This Child Will Be Great (the book-of-the-month) was a re-opening of the early life and adventures of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf andher emergence as the first woman president in Africa. It recounts the struggle for power in Liberia, JohnsonSirleaf’slife in exile abroad and the fight to curb corruption and reinstate hope in Liberian citizens for a better African Polity.No doubt JohnsonSirleaf’s memoir captured in the pages of the book was a great source of inspiration for all and a model for African women to emulate. The review revealed that though she was a mother of four, she was undaunted by the trials and turbulence that greeted her in the pursuit of her dreams.
Audience response was such that added live and euphoria to the discourse as some members shared highlights of lessons learnt from this stallion of Liberian descent.
Capping the reading was the performance of The Scourge. It is an unpublished experimental play written and directed by Dan Kpodoh, artistic director in residence for the Arts Village, University of Port Harcourt. The play makes a social commentary on the pandemic HIV AIDS. Mirroring in on the lives of characters such as Tammy, Jane and Muobo, the performance was a critical dissection of the pains, anguish and societal dehumanization victims of the disease go through.
The somber-toned performance replete with tear evoking choruses and pathetic ‘tom toms’ of the drum brought the audience closer to the trauma and neglect affected persons suffer in the society. Employing the theatrics of experimentalists such as GerzyGrotowski, Konstantin Stanislavski and a blend of creative directorial concepts, the play punctuated on finding a panacea to the scourge. Without deviating from the title of the book in focus, and the theme of possibilities for the World Book Capital year, the play enunciated the obvious hope in sight for HIV AIDS victims climaxing in a unity dance.
As Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, joins the league of octogenarian writers this July his magnum opus Ake: The Years of Childhood doubles as the book of the month and drama performance.
Drama performance of The Scourgeat the event
Guests at the June reading.