Sunday, 22 February 2015

How Ukala’s Iredi War connects demolition of Ekumeku, other statues in Delta State



By Anote Ajeluorou


Ekumeku War statue at Asaba was destroyed to make way for Zenith Bank roundabout, and later a flyover bridge. I nearly led a one-man riot to protest that vandalisation of our national patrimony!” That was how award-winning author of epic play, Iredi War, Prof. Sam Ukala, put it while expressing his bitterness at the demolished Ekumeku War statue in Asaba. It was while recently celebrating him for winning The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2014, worth USD$100,000, sponsored by NLNG, at Delta State University, Abraka.
  His book threw up the question of abysmal neglect and even destruction of commissioned sculptural landmarks that beautify Delta State to the consternation of art lovers and scholars alike. Iredi War echoes such destroyed or neglected statues, as Ekumeku War echoes similar concerns in Ukala’s award-winning play in Asaaba people’s historic struggle with the white man in the early 1900s. Ojife statue also at Asaba and Delta Panorama in Warri and others adorning entrances to the state are not spared the same fate.
  Ukala’s play particularly helped to raise questions about the state government’s neglect and poor attitude towards artistic objects scattered around the state. Dr. Nelson Edewor, who is chairman, Society of Nigerian Arts (SNA) and teaches at the Department of Fine Arts, DELSU, and Ukala then charged the Dr. Emmanuel Uduahan-led Delta State Government to immediately relocate, re-erect and rehabilitate all demolished landmark sculptural objects in the state.
  Specifically, the two dons at the state-owned university urged the state government to re-erect Ekumeku War statue in the state capital, rehabilitate Ojife statue also in Asaba, remake or relocate Delta Panorama and rehabilitate all neglected sculptural works in all entry points to the state.
  It was Edewor who raised the issue of demolished and abandoned sculptural works while responding to Ukala’s Iredi War’s play, a historical narrative of Owa people and their battle with the colonial powers that sought to subjugate them. Edewor said the play reminded him of similar wars wagged by Asaba people against the British colonial powers in 1900s, a war that Ekumeku statue helps to immortalise, as reminder of that historic struggle in Asaba people’s encounter with foreign powers.
  According to Edewor, “Ekumeku War statue at Asaba was pulled down for no reason at all. But with Ukala’s book that part of our history has been restored. Pulling down Ekumeku is a disservice to visual arts society in Delta State. We have protested against it and made representation to government that it be restored. Restoration of that statue is very important to the cultural life of the people”.
  For Edewor, the historical essence of Ekumeku War is inestimable and that only its restoration would make sense, saying, “For its historical essence, we desire Ekumeku War statue’s replacement on any acceptable location within Asaba, as consented to by the community’s royalty. Ekumeku War sculpture was made by Mr. Augustus Iweke in 1995 at Inter-Bua roundabout; it was destroyed in 2010. A giant Christmas tree first replaced the statue, then Zenith Bank advert, which was eventually demolished for the flyover bridge under construction.
  “Also, the over 20-feet Delta Panorama made by Mr. Mike Igbowe and situated at Effurun roundabout in Warri went down. Delta Panorama was replaced with a mere water fountain. Last year it was also cleared off for a flyover bridge under construction”.
  In a meeting with Delta State Commissioner for Art, Culture and Tourism, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Edewor, as chairman of SNA had charged, “(We) further decry the high rate of assault on public sculptures and monuments, with special focus on Ekumeku War and Delta Panorama public sculptures that adorned Asaba and Warri metropolises. This assault, the society believes, has grave consequences as abuse on intellectual property law and assault on social image”.
  The state government’s neglect of statues erected at strategic parts of the state is another source of worry for the visual arts teacher and art practitioner. According to Edewor, “Government’s neglect of monuments or their destruction is insupportable. The Ojife statue at West-end roundabout in Asaba is falling apart already. All statues at all entrances to the state are in similar state of disrepair. Government must act to restore these sculptures to their glory days to beautify the state”.

AT the symposium, Ukala and Yeibo took opportunity to respond to the honour bestowed on them by their fellow academics. ON his part, Yeibo expressed gratitude for the honour accorded him when he said, “I’ve always regarded Abraka as my home. The event is unique and I’m blessed.” To the students in the hall, he said, “You’re on the right path; put in your best in whatever you do, as students, as aspiring writers and you will attain success.”
  Ukala also expressed gratitude to English and Literary Studies Department for honouring him. According to him, “The department is cultivating, fostering what we see in older universities – academic culture! How can offices be shut at 4pm, even the library in a university? At University of Ibadan, offices are still open till 1am. The coming of Darah has changed things at Abraka.”
  Ukala also responded to Omoko’s criticism of his play and explained that the time lag was justified, as the telegram didn’t arrive when it should and that the white feared juju given the circumstances of its happening and what was at stake.
  He, however, praised the nobility of Igboba in not only standing up to the white man, but offering himself to be punished along with his subjects, as the hallmark of leadership. “Igboba didn’t allow his subjects to be chained or hanged without offering himself first, as the hallmark of good leadership,” he stated.
  Dean, Faculty of Arts, DELSU, Prof. Austin Anigala, who was represented by Prof. Grace Orji-Ogwu, thanked the two prize-winning authors for “representing us well. Ukala has gone beyond the university to let the world know that this university is grooming men and women of distinction. The Faculty of Arts is proud of its men and women. Darah just came back from the National Conference. More is yet to come.”
  Sadly though, not even a 10-minute drama skit was performed to serenade a master dramatist of Ukala’s stature. Clearly, it would seem Ukala’s department (Theatre Arts) merely watched from the sidelines while another (English) claimed him in celebration.


With New Horizons Concert Series, MUSON lifts jazz music offering



By Anote Ajeluorou



Although music is a universal language that transcends boundaries, classical jazz, as popularised at Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre, Onikan, Lagos, is viewed by a majority of music lovers as somewhat elitist. Thus it sometimes struggles to attract as much audience as it should in spite of quality training and skills its performers are being exposed to on a regular basis.
  New Horizons Concert Series MUSON’s new Artistic Director, Mr. Tunde Jegede, has conceived, apart from preaching jazz gospel to many, is also aimed at democratising jazz and making it music to be loved by all, especially with the infusion of essential African musical elements.
  At a press briefing to herald the new concert series last week, both Jegede and MUSON’s General Manager, Mr. Gboyega Banjo, explained efforts being made to take the gospel of jazz to all parts of Nigerian in spite of the challenges that ambition poses.
  Jegede’s New Horizons kicks off this Sunday, February 22, with unique themes. The other three performances are scheduled to hold on Sunday, March 29, April 19 and June 14. Time for all shows is 6pm. The first concert this Sunday is an exploration of jazz and its African Connections featuring Nigeria’s spoken word artists such as Venus Bushfires, Age Beeka, Imolayo Balogun and the Art Essemble of Lagos.
  Jegede said the first concert “is a meeting point between jazz and music from here, a connection between Africa and the Diaspora.”
  On Sunday, March 29, the focus will be on Africa Messiah, which is a contemporary opera by Jegede. It brings African and baroque music together for the first time. It is the story of “the messiah in parallel to the historical trials and tribulations of African people through millennia and told in poetic narrative.” It will feature MUSON Choir and the Samadhi Essemble and will be conducted by Sir Emeka Nwokedi. This concert, Jegede also noted, “is also a meeting point between African and Western classical music; I will play the kora in it. Most of the work I do is a meeting point.”
   On Sunday, April 19, performance theme is After the Dream, which is “an opera of celebrated arias put together by the soprano soloist, Ranti Ihimoyan, and features American opera diva, Laverne Williams and some of Nigeria’s finest opera singers, including Guchi Egbunine, Fatima Anyekema and Chika Ogbuji”. The third concert, a soprano, “is classical work adapted to a storyline, which has an access point,” Jegede stated.
  On Sunday, June 14, performance theme will be Emidy: He Who Dared to Dream, a “concert centred around the life and times of the 19th century composer and violinist, Joseph Antonio Emidy, who traversed three continents from Africa to South America and Europe. The concert features Jegede, Diana Baroni and the Indian multi-percussionist, Renu Hossain.” According to Jegede, “There is a balance between folk traditions and classical music.”
  These four Sundays promise a unique “taste of Jegede’s operatic, jazz and chamber music” and his “unique synthesis of classical jazz and traditional music, which embodies the legacy of African Classical Music idiom.” This is more so, as Jegede’s New Horizons “embraces jazz, classical opera and African music” and made unique by the array of local and global talents billed to perform.

THE coming of Jegede to MUSON has the bonus of making jazz music more democratic. According to him, “Classical music internationally, has a problem; it has difficult time reaching out to non-classical music enthusiasts. So programming is key; we have to have a clearer way of programming. I combine jazz and spoken word, and this is to say that MUSON has more than jazz music.”
  In order to mitigate the challenges of spreading the gospel of jazz to unbelievers of the music genre, Jegede said MUSON was mulling creating more outreaches to get classical jazz to non-traditional places and non-enthusiasts. “There could be more outreach work to get jazz music outside of here (MUSON Centre) to the public; that could be started next year. Taking MUSON to Abuja, Port Harcourt or Abuja or elsewhere would take time because of the commitment involved to get it out there.
  “Outreach programming is important; it has to be done. We have to go out and play music. I would like for musicians here at MUSON to go out and collaborate with music departments in universities”.
  Banjo said the appointment of Jegede as Artistic Director of MUSON was spot on, as he said, “From our experience, Jegede’s appointment was an immediate hit, as they say in music, in what he has done when we hired him. From our experience also you only have to motivate young people in this country and they will exceed your expectations.”
  On the need for MUSON to take music to public places outside of the centre, Banjo noted, “We’re actively wrestling with that idea. Given the geography of this country, it would be good for us to have branches or partners out there. What could happen is that we could replicate MUSON in Abuja or Port Harcourt – two strong cases to look at.
  “Another thing is aggregating a critical mass of people in those places take the initiative and MUSON partners with them to establish it there or MUSON takes concerts to those places and it generates interests. Those things could happen in the fullness of time. It will be ideal, no doubt. Right now, we look as if we’re Musical Society of Lagos rather than Nigeria!”

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Enahoro, a patriot at 80, by Anote Ajeluorou


How does it feel to be 80?
  I’ve been incredibly cheered by so many people calling to congratulate me. Therefore, my answer should not be mistaken for grouchiness. Let us say you’ve lived your life on an exotic island. There were glorious periods of laughter and gaiety. Although there were also periods of painful failures; life, for the most part, has been a fulfilment. Then you are 80. You can remember the distant past as though yesterday. You wonder where all the years have gone. You cannot understand the fuss about being 80 – until someone offers you a tot of cognac and you shake your head and confess shyly, “I don’t drink anymore.” Your body, like the calendar, reminds you you’re an old man!

How would you say exile has treated you?
  A simple question not easily answered. I fled Nigeria at 31. Although I’d travelled halfway round the globe before then I count that time as the moment a new life began for me. I gained the welcome anonymity I did not have in Lagos. I could go back in time and enjoy the life of a young adult that I’d missed. I was a citizen of the world with freedom to travel in Africa and explore Europe. The downside was a sense of not belonging.

At 80 perhaps it is time to return home or don’t you think so?
  Apart from extended visits in the early part of this decade, I spent altogether seven of the forty-nine years since 1966 in Nigeria when I twice tried to resettle in the 1990s. It didn’t work out.

Independence night in 1960 left a bitter taste in the mouth of many like you so much so that you stayed away from the celebration. What political significance did that moment have for the country ever since?
  The precise moment that Nigeria became an Independent state was at the stroke of midnight on Saturday, October 1, 1960.  I was editor of the Sunday Times waiting in the office for pictures of the handing over of the Constitutional Instruments by Princess Alexandra, Queen Elisabeth’s cousin, to Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa; so I had valid excuse not to be at the Race Course venue to witness the historic moment. However, it is true that I was not overly keen to be there. It just didn’t seem right that those who fought hardest for Independence were outcasts. It so happened that they boycotted the ceremony. Maybe that was a signal for the bitterness that soon engulfed the early post-Independence years. 

Some say that journalists have partly been the cause of Nigeria’s problems. A colleague of yours at the Daily Times writing in Drum, according to you, partly caused the mayhem in 1966. How have journalists fared in reporting your country ever since?
  A misplaced humour by my friend, Nelson Ottah, with a photo montage that went seriously awry was blamed among other things for the killing of Igbos in the North. I didn’t see the joke in the picture mount-up or in its accompanying write-up, but that did not justify the terrible slaughters that ensued. In the wider picture of the record of the Nigerian Press, I don’t think the Press should be held responsible for the malaise in the country. Some people will say, he’s bound to say that; isn’t he? He’s one of them! But in fairness, what the Press does is hold up a mirror to the society at large. The Press should not be blamed when some people don’t like what they see.
  However, I’ve since learned that there is such a thing as self-censorship. I left Nigeria all those years ago believing in the absolute truth of the slogan “publish and be damned”. I came to learn that even in the Western world whose media boast that they have absolute freedom, there is an addendum. When it comes to reporting Africa the gloves are usually off, however. Africa is still the Dark Continent in the minds of many readers. Foreign reporters feed into that, albeit with a revised stereotyping. We don’t eat missionaries any more; instead, we are universally, individually, collectively corrupt and incompetent, and dependent on foreign aid. The visiting foreign reporter is an intrepid do-gooder who wants to save Africans from themselves. Unfortunately, our indigenous Press hold them as role models.   

Nigeria descended into war in 1967. Was it unavoidable?
  In theory all wars are avoidable.

You played a part in that war on the side of Biafra. Do you regret it? What part did that play in your going into exile?
  I was already abroad before the crisis became a war. My sympathy was for the struggle of the Igbo people. I made that known wherever my travels took me. That was as much part as I played. I would have been happiest if the war became a stalemate so that a just and proper end to the dispute could be negotiated. It happened that Biafra lost the war. Gowon said there was no victor, no vanquished. The Igbos have been reintegrated into the Federation. It suggests that the story is ended. If you want to take an absolutely cynical view you would remind yourself that most of today’s established nations were put together by force of arms. The great democrat Abraham Lincoln fought and won a civil war that kept the U.S. as one and indivisible nation.
  Nonetheless, someone like me might reply that in the modern age it ought to be possible to build a nation on a foundation of consent and trust. We see ethnic conflicts and separatist movements all over the world, even among enlightened and sophisticated societies. There is the current crisis in Ukraine where thousands have died. There is the lingering undercurrent of French-Canadian “nationalism”; the Basques in Spain; the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq. Closer to our experience is the demand for Scottish Independence. The nationalists lost a recent referendum but I don’t believe it is over for good. Even so, what struck me was that after 300 years of the termination of Scottish Independence; 300 years of “Great Britain”; three hundred centuries, during which Scotsmen and Englishmen bestrode the world jointly as subjects of a common sovereign, and together built an empire on which the sun never set; and despite the negative propaganda hurled at the nationalist campaign – including EU and US subtle and not so subtle interventions – as many as 45 percent of the voters asked for Independence!     

Your former colleague, the late Chinua Achebe wrote his last book, There was a Country that sparked so much controversy back home. What was your assessment of the book in the light of events of the civil war?
  Chinua Achebe was not my colleague. In fact, I can’t remember that we ever met and had a conversation. I’ve read the book. I’m glad he wrote it. It was how he saw things. It spoke for him. The fact that it caused so much controversy was proof that he touched certain nerves. That didn’t include my nerves.

In spite of the war Biafra was able to deploy its resources such that it developed its own technology to fight the war. But in spite of the fact that Nigeria won the war and despite the benefit of the oil boom, it can’t make a bicycle as yet. What do you think accounts for this?
  You are spot on. An admirable achievement of Biafra was the creativity it inspired among a population on the brink of decimation. The old saying that necessity is the mother of invention was ever so true about the Biafrans. But when they re-joined an economy which seeks to create wealth not by building or planting things but in importations, a curse of the oil boom, an economy in which business acumen means angling for contracts to make a quick buck, the creativity inspired by the Biafra spirit ended very quickly. At any rate it had never caught on in the rest of the country. “Waiting for Federal allocation” should be the motto of every state finance ministry in the land!

You wrote Then Spoke the Thunder some 10 years ago. At 80 do you still feel there are gaps that need to be filled? Is another memoir coming?
  I can’t see another memoir or the need for one. But there is a bitter story I want to tell, if I can work out a humorous way of telling it. It’s very much in my head.

Nigeria is holding another election next month. What are your fears and expectations?
  My hope is that we avoid violence. My fear is that the losers will automatically claim that the elections were rigged.

Between the two Presidential candidates – Jonathan and Buhari – who do you think is the better suited for the job?
  I’ve never voted in a political election in my life.  I thought I could not honestly say I was transparently objective and neutral if I cast a vote for one side or the other. I’ve always stopped short of concerning myself with who the better candidate is. I concentrate on watching out for transparency in the electoral process, on fairness and I patiently await the decision of the electorate.

When DELSU celebrated literary feats of Ukala, Yeibo




By Anote Ajeluorou (Just back from Abraka)


The Niger Delta region has become a metaphor for ambivalence in Nigeria’s chequered history. This is reflective of seemingly contradictory offerings that come from the oil-rich region, which is at once a nightmare zone of oil wealth despoiling the flora and fauna, hotbed for militancy just as it is a fertile land of artistic expression and creative enterprise.
  However, it was the latter virtue that formed the basis for celebration last Thursday when professor of drama, folklorist and playwright, Sam Ukala and poet, Mr. Ebi Yeibo were honoured in a symposium at Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka. It was at the instance of Department of English and Literary Studies, with the Head of Department, Dr. Sunny Awhefeada, rightly claiming Ukala as their own and urged him to return to base. Yeibo graduated from the department some years ago.
  Ukala was celebrated for winning NLNG-sponsored The Nigerian Prize for Literature 2014 in the drama category with his play, Iredi War, which examines a historical moment in the life of Owa people of Delta State. He’d received his prize a week before in Lagos. Yeibo, on the other hand, was honoured for winning the poetry prize of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) also in 2014, with his collection, The Fourth Masquerade. While Ukala teaches drama at DELSU, Yeibo teaches English at Niger Delta University.
  The event, which had the entire English Department, staff and students, in attendance, with a large number of academics from all the humanities, had former Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian and professor of Oral Literature, Gordini G. Darah, as chairman. However, Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Hope Eghagha didn’t show up as advertised.
  Darah noted that the symposium was the only way they could celebrate those who excel in the marketplace of ideas, as the two academics had done in the field of writing. According to him, “This is our way of celebrating our own creativity in the marketplace of ideas. It’s an expression of DELSU in the creative world. We’re in a corner in terms of news and we might need to amplify ourselves first before we can be heard.”
  Darah further remarked on the grimness in the political season and submitted, “We’re in a season of anomie with campaigns going. We’re the only people as writers, who are licensed to criticise them. Ukala’s prize is equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Literature won by four Africans so far. Wole Soyinka in 1986; Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt in 1988, Nadine Gordimer in 1991 and J.M. Coetzee in 2003, both of South Africa. What Ukala has won in terms of monetary value is a Nobel Laureate. You (Ukala) will never be poor again!”
  Darah then went on to praise the two writers and said they represented the creative ferment the Niger Delta is noted for in all fields of creative endeavour in the country. “The two writers represent artistic creativity in the Niger Delta,” he said. “Ever field of creativity is peopled by Deltans. Ukala can be said to be among the third generation of writers in Nigeria like Odia Ofeimun, Kole Omotoso, Tanure Ojaide and Femi Osofisan. Among the globally recognized of this generation are Ukala, Tess Onwueme and Zulu Sofola. We’re honouring both, as part of contributing to national economy and national debate and to make sure that art does not perish. This is a celebration of our own Nobel Prize. All of us should challenge ourselves; you will also win in your own area and you’ll be celebrated!
  “We all know that it’s the artist who remakes the world with his craft. In all societies, it’s the intellectual, the artist who are celebrated more than those who own property, because the artist never dies!”
  Darah promised that the symposium would be a regular part of the life of the department, as the memory of two late literary dames – Maya Angelou of the U.S. and Nadine Gordimer of South Africa – would form the subject of the next symposium.
  Chief convener and HOD of English and Literary Studies, Awefeadah said after reading Iredi War he knew it would go places, saying, “We’re celebrating Ukala for writing a tour de force. Ukala rightly belongs to English Department where he took his first degree at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, which gave him an enclave to carve a niche for himself, before delving into drama.”
  On Yeibo, Awhefeada simply said, “Nigerian literature, Abraka has arrived!” He then poured libation saying, “Let their endeavour continue to inspire our generation.”
  Dr. Godfrey Enita of Theatre Arts Department, DELSU, spoke on ‘Sam Ukala’s Iredi War: Celebrating a History of Resistance and a Nation at Crossroads’ while Steve Kekeghe of English Department, College of Education, Warri, spoke on ‘Yeibo’s The Fourth Masquerade: Allegiance to Homeland or Nation? A Writer’s Dilemma’. Enita provided a dramatic aspect to proceedings when he taught the audience the song on page 40 of Iredi War, to which the audience lustily sang.

THERE were discussants on the two books, who further expounded on their themes.  For Pleasure Igugu, “Ukala’s Iredi War establishes a counter-discourse of colonization, which says Africans don’t have a culture worth upholding. The white man came with the bible in one hand and fire in the hand; he deluded the black man with the bible and burnt up their culture with the fire. The post-colonial approach is that the playwright is writing back. It is also applicable to our own society, with the majority being oppressed by their government.”
  Igugu also spoke on polygamy in the play, with Igboba’s younger wife, Nwoma always wondering why the king prefers the bed of the aged wife to hers. Igugu put it down to the “vagaries of polygamy, which is one of the concerns of feminism, as it concerns the treatment of women in African society”.
  Henry Unuajohwofia submitted that characters in the play have fragmented personality when examined through the lens of psychoanalytic frame. He argued, “The white men were determined, courageous, resilient and expressed love for his country. They fought, died, retreated and fought again.” However, the party of the cowards belonged to the Africans, with some betraying their own people. Unuajohwofia also stated that the play also presents lessons of heroism, with Igboba appearing to be na├»ve in his assessment of the white man and considered him a friend rather than the enemy he truely was.
  He also located the theme of Iredi War in the prism of today’s globalised politics, and how the African continues to be a victim of forces outside of himself. However, Unuajohwofia praised Ukala’s play for its two dimensional format in using the “best of static western theatre and the best of moving African theatre to form folkism”. He also commended the spirit of resistance of Igboba and the entire Owa people against alien imposition and advised all to take a cue from them.
  Closer home, and in seeming tongue-in-cheek analogy, Unuajohwofia linked the emergence of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa as governorship candidate in Delta State in the forthcoming elections to the continuing ascendancy of Owa, setting of the play, in the power equation of their time, both past and present.
  Peter Omoko, who teaches English at College of Physical Education, Mosogar, said although Ukala’s Iredi War is recreation of African unity from the Owa people’s point of view in massing together to fight a common enemy, there appeared gaps in the narrative. He pointed at the time lag in delivering the telegram in the play and how impossible it was for the imperialist power to retreat from a juju cast by one of Igboba’s wives that struck a native police dead. Omoko accused Ukala of idealising Africa, saying, “The attempt to idealise the heroism of the African is not right.”

Interrogating The Fourth Masquerade, a poetry collection that uses the motif of the masquerade to give voice to the oppressed of the land, a graduate student of English, Mr. Karo Ilolo, said Yeibo is decidedly tilted towards an allegiance to homeland rather than to the nation, as the nation comes under intense fire for failing to protect the weak from being oppressed, reason for the masquerade’s anger.
  According to him, “Yeibo is decidedly tilted towards homeland having gone through the pain of the region, having gone through the violence of the Niger Delta. The Niger Delta of Gabriel Okara and JP Clark is different from the Niger Delta of Yeibo, who is unapologetically vituperative, sad and angry as the language shows.”
  Critiquing the title of the collection, Ilolo said, “Does it coincide with the time Nigeria is at crossroads with the Fourth Republic, and not sure which part to take? And is Yeibo a militant? In this collection Yeibo is facing his own dilemma”.
  Also for Kennedy Edegbe, “Yeibo is one of the strong, forceful voices that has come out of the Niger Delta. Yeibo’s work shows his commitment to his homeland. Now, he talks about contemporary issues, and shares his pain of happenings in the Niger Delta, the open paradox of life in the region. The behaviour of politicians is not spared. Even Boko Haram is not friendly to Nigeria. So, we see the motif of masquerades generally. This work has come to prompt us to action and to act decidedly on the side of justice.”

ON his part, Yeibo expressed gratitude for the honour accorded him when he said, “I’ve always regarded Abraka as my home. The event is unique and I’m blessed.” To the students in the hall, he said, “You’re on the right path; put in your best in whatever you do, as students, as aspiring writers and you will attain success.”
  Ukala also expressed gratitude to English and Literary Studies Department for honouring him. According to him, “The department is cultivating, fostering what we see in older universities – academic culture! How can offices be shut at 4pm, even the library in a university? At University of Ibadan, offices are still open till 1am. The coming of Darah has changed things at Abraka.”
  Ukala also responded to Omoko’s criticism of his play and explained that the time lag was justified, as the telegram didn’t arrive when it should and that the white feared juju given the circumstances of its happening and what was at stake.
  He, however, praised the nobility of Igboba in not only standing up to the white man, but offering himself to be punished along with his subjects, as the hallmark of leadership. “Igboba didn’t allow his subjects to be chained or hanged without offering himself first, as the hallmark of good leadership,” he stated.
  Dean, Faculty of Arts, DELSU, Prof. Austin Anigala, who was represented by Prof. Grace Orji-Ogwu thanked the two prize-winning authors for “representing us well. Ukala has gone beyond the university to let the world know that this university is grooming men and women of distinction. The Faculty of Arts is proud of its men and women. Darah just came back from the National Conference. More is yet to come.”
  Sadly though, not even a 10-minute drama skit was performed to serenade a master dramatist of Ukala’s stature. Clearly, it would seem Ukala’s department (Theatre Arts) merely watched from the sidelines while others claimed him in celebration.