By Kazeem Ugbodaga
On 20 September, 2017, the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan, Oyo, Southwest Nigeria will be agog as Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, governors, academics, poets and several others will gather to celebrate the golden jubilee of the demise of veteran poet and teacher, Christopher Okigbo.
Okigbo, born on 16 August 1932 died in September 1967. He died fighting for the independence of the botched Biafra.
The event is being put together by the Christopher Okigbo Foundation, COF in conjunction with the University of Ibadan through the Departments of Classics and English. The celebration of the life and time of Okigbo, packaged in form of a conference will hold on 20 and 21 September at different venues at the University of Ibadan.
At a news conference on Monday to unveil events for the posthumous celebration and conference in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Dr. Wale Okediran, Chief Advisor, COF said the theme of the two-day conference is: “Legacy of Christopher Okigbo-50 Years on.”
He said the opening ceremony of the event would take place at the Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan on 20 September while there would also be a book launch and the unveiling of thee UNESCO Plaque at Cambridge House, 20 JoepBerkhout Crescent, Onireke, Ibadan by 5.00pm.
Okediran disclosed that a keynote address would be delivered by Soyinka at the event, under the chairmanship of Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike while the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Achebe Agbogidi would be the royal father of the day.
Expected at the event are: Ambassador Judith Sefi-Attah (Okigbo’s widow), John Pepper Clarke, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra State; former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, Okigbo family members; Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Abel Olayinka; Prof. AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, Vice Chancellor, Kwara State University; Prof. Ayo Banjo, Prof. Remi Raji; Prof. Ernest Emenyonu, Prof. Romanus Egudu; Odia Ofeimun, Prof. Femi Osofisan, Prof. Niyi Osundare, among several others.
According to Okediran, “the conference will continue in the evening of 20 September with a Gala soiree hosted by Chief JoopBerkhout at Cambridge House, Ibadan, assembling Okigbo’s contemporaries, fellow poets, entourage, members of the cultural industry and institutions worldwide that have been instrumental in upholding his memory date.”
He said the conference would be rounded up with the presentations of papers at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan on 21 September.
Okediran stated that the paper presentations would be handled by three panelists, adding that the first panel would be chaired by Prof. Ayo Banjo; second panel by Prof. Dan Izevbaye and the third panel by Prof. Abdulrasheed Na’Allah.
He added that the foundation would re-launch the Okigbo Price for Poetry which is expected to kick-off next year with an improved price for the award.
Also speaking, President, COF, Obiageli Okigbo said the foundation over the years had been propagating the ideals of Okigbo, which she said was truthfulness, fairness, justice, among others.
Executive Editor, The NEWS/PM News, Kunle Ajibade eulogized the quality of Okigbo, saying that he was the Regional Editor of Transition magazine which was cosmopolitan in spirit.
“There were two magazines at that time, but he preferred the Transition magazine because of its cosmopolitan spirit . The magazine competed with the best in the world. He infused the magazine with cosmopolitan influence,” he said.