Wole Adedoyin is the National Publicity Secretary, South, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). In this interaction with ABDULHAFEEZ T. OYEWOLE, he speaks on ANA’s programmes, and what it takes to run a vibrant writers’ body.
What activities does ANA have for the year?
I always tell ANA members that Mallam Denja Abdullahi’s Presidency is a continuation of Wale Okediran, Jerry Agada and Remi Raji’s Presidency though he served under all these past presidents as general secretary and vice president respectively.
When Mallam Denja Abdullahi came on board as ANA president, he didn’t cancel or stop what he met on ground; instead he built on them, improved on them. He did not, because he wanted to take glory and praises from members, start his own initiatives.
ANA has a tradition and Mallam Denja Abdullahi has been building on this tradition.
There are lots of new innovations and programmes he has brought into the activities of ANA. There are numerous literary activities which we have set aside for this year. Literary activities like our annual ANA/Yusuf Ali Literary Campaign Project; Authors Groove; ANA/AE-FUNAI International Conference and Creative Workshop; ANA Council of Chairmen and Secretaries Meeting coming up in April; A Book A Child Project; 2nd Edition of the ANA Young Authorship Conference; Computerisation of ANA Membership Database; and official commissioning of the Mamman Vatsa Writers Village among others.
What does people attending ANA/AE-FUNAI International Conference and ANA international Convention this year stand to gain?
The ANA/AE-FUNAI International Conference is one of the new initiatives birthed by Mallam Denja-led administration, now in its second edition.
There are lots of benefits apart from the Certificate of Participation which will be given to individual participants. I attended that of last year’s Conference. It was quite educative, entertaining and informative. The creative workshop series is conceived as a medium for offering skill training to generality of interested people, who might have deep interest in developing their creative skills, but do not necessarily hold graduate degrees in these areas.
These workshops, among other things, always provide opportunities for professionals and distinguished writers to engage younger writers in creative enterprises. The workshop is an avenue of gathering skills in the following areas: poetry, prose, drama, drawing/painting/tie & dye.
The theme for last year’s conference was: Expanding Frontiers: Nigeria’s Creative Writing in the 21st Century and the conference provided scholars the opportunity to articulate as well as interrogate new trends and the stylistic evolutions of Nigerian literature in the 21st century.
The 2018 edition of the Conference was held between June 18 and 19 at the Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo (FUNAI), Ebonyi state, with Dean, Faculty of Humanities, FUNAI, Prof. G.M.T. Emezue, as Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee.
The 2018 also featured prominent writers and literary scholars like Prof. G.M.T. Emezue; Dr. John Out; Prof. JOJ Nwachukwu Agbada; Prof. Ogaga Okuyade; Late Oke Ikeog; Dr Ismail Bala; Dr Camillus Uka; Prof. E.E. Sule; and Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba.
The theme for this year’s edition is: Nigeria’s Literary Criticism in an Expanding Space of Creative Writing and Digital Production in the 21st Century and the conference will hold from July 2-3.
On ANA International Convention, the theme for this year’s convention is: Literature, Nationalism and the Poetics of National Integration, which will hold from October 31-November 3, but we are yet to decide the state that will host.
What is ANA about its moribund chapters?
In our National Executive Council meeting held in Abuja on January 26, 2019, the issue of non-functioning chapters of the Association and chapters where elections have not been held for years were thoroughly debated. At the meeting, the house committed to assign sole administrators for the following chapters: Ondo Chapter has former ANA President and Trustee, Prof Kole Omotoso of Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo state; Nasarawa Chapter has Prof Idris Amali of Federal University, Lafia; Gombe Chapter has Prof Nereus Tadi of Gombe State University; Sokoto Chapter has Prof Asabe Kabir Usman of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; Kaduna Chapter has Dr Audee T. Giwa of Kaduna State University, Kaduna; and Bauchi Chapter has Umar Saleh Gwani.
However, though appointment was put on hold for Anambra Chapter they were given not later than March 31 to conduct elections.
How has the experience been as ANA National Publicity Secretary, South?
The job is not easy, very tedious. It’s like a full time job. My job is not only posting. Sometimes I write press releases, update and edit blogs, attend some chapters’ readings, update ANA Facebook groups, update ANA WhatsApp groups, among others.
Before my emergence as ANA PRO I thought you would just be elected and be given something to post. It goes beyond that. Under the Mallam Denja Abdullahi I got to know that ANA elective positions are not mere official titles. There are lots of works to be done.
Till tomorrow, I always wondered how my predecessors ran their office. Elective positions in ANA are not meant for lazy people. And thanks to Mallam Denja Abdullahi, he gives me free hands to do anything I want but under certain guidelines and rules.
What have you done differently since you assumed duty?
Like I said earlier, ANA has a literary tradition which we have been building on. The publicity guidelines and rules as laid down by the association’s founding fathers which are enshrined in the association’s constitution are still there. What we are doing is modernising and building on them.
When I resumed my position as ANA National PRO the first thing I did was to create a publicity blog called ANA Publicity Blog for sensitising and publishing latest news in ANA. This is quite different from ANA official website.
The idea behind creating it is to archive ANA activities like literary events, press releases, picture of events, interviews, reviews online.
You will agree with me that one of the problems militating against ANA is lack of records but now if you want to read about any ANA event, press releases, interviews and articles written about Mallam Denja Abdullahi’s second term kindly visit ANA Publicity Blog. The resources are there. I’ve archived some of our activities on this blog.
Other blogs created by this administration for archiving ANA annual literary projects are: ANA-FUNAI International Conference and Creative Workshop – https://ana-funai.blogspot.com/; ANA/Yusuf Ali Literary Awareness Campaign 2015-2018 https://yusufaliliteraryawarenesscampaign.blogspot.com; Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) – Authors’ Groove-https://authorsgroove.blogspot.com/; ANA’s A-Book-A-Child Nationwide Project- https://anaabookachildblog.blogspot.com/; and Nigerian Writers Series-http://ananigerianwriterseries.blogspot.com/.
What would you say made you function better in this capacity?
When I assumed this position, ANA President, Mallam Denja Abdullahi, gave me all I needed. He equipped me with the necessary tools that would make my job very easy and convenient.
Another strategy is extending our PR tentacles to the state chapters. Sometimes when there is no news to work with at the national level, I publicise the activities of the state chapters. Promoting the activities of the state chapters using ANA national platforms started during Denja Abdullahi’s regime.
Many of the state chapters don’t have the wide publicity platform as compared to that of the national. That is why we are assisting some of them to publicise their monthly literary events.
I experimented with my state chapter (Osun) and it worked. Majority of ANA Osun new members got to know about the chapter through the national publicity platform.
It’s election year in the writers’ association are you presenting yourself for second term?
I have not completed this tenure now. To be candid, after this I am no more interested. There are lots of people aspiring to this position. It is better to do your best and leave the rest. Just have it in mind that whatever you do during your tenure, history will never forget you.
What’s your take on the death of Prof. Pius Adesanmi?
It’s very saddening. We had met once or twice, so, I was shocked when I heard the news. He was a good scholar and an excellent writer. May his soul rest in peace.
How hectic is the running of a writers’ body as ANA?
Oga, it is not easy. Please go and check Mallam Denja Abdullahi’s head, you will see grey heir there. Sorry, I’m not referring to the title of his award winning book o. I’m referring to his hair now surrounded by grey hair despite having a bald head. That is ANA for you. That is what ANA has turned him into. Sometimes, I ask myself what these people are looking for in ANA Presidency.
I always feel for him especially after ANA convention: settling debts from his own purse; facing harassment; negative and side talks about him by ANA members and more.
ANA is like a country with different tribes and sects. ANA is not like a political party where you beg politicians to support your cause. It is not where you make money for yourself. It is where your money will be drained for a good literary cause. To Denja Abdullahi, future of ANA is what is important and that is always our watchwords.
Abdulhafeez T. Oyewole contributes from Kwara state