Chuma Nwokolo Jnr is not a stranger to these parts nor our literary community having done a workshop here at the State University alongside Geoff Ryman as well as having readings at the university’s Writers’ League and this great body too – all with Geoff. He is known to most of us personally but permit me to tell us a bit more of what we all know.
Chuma Nwokolo Jnr was born in Jos in the year 1963. He is a graduate of Law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. A founding managing partner of the Law Firm, C and G, he was called to the Bar in 1984. His first novel was published by Macmillan in 1983. Very little is heard of that novel these days – we even wonder the name. Nwokolo is more known for his publishing of African-Writing (online and in print), a literary magazine that has featured several literary lords and ladies from across the African continent. Thus, it is needless to mention that he has a very active web presence blogging at http://blogs.african-writing.com as well as having several essays, short stories and poems on diverse websites. Need anyone say that Chuma (as he is fondly called by several, older and younger, friends and fans) is also on Facebook and Twitter?
He has a collection of poetry, a few novels, African Tales at Jailpoint (1999), One More Tale for the Road (2003), Diaries of a Dead African (2003), and his recent toast The Ghost of Sani Abacha, a collection of short stories, that he would be reading from this evening. Chuma is generally known for his trademark humour that stands out in his fictional narratives. His poetry however is more serious and deep, demanding some serious thoughts and analysis. Little wonder he has to explain several parts when he’s reading, and he sure does a lot of reading. With his latest book, he has done lots of tours from Europe to the Western part of Nigeria and now, our own Makurdi. He moves to Abuja, Kaduna and other places too. Chuma has a commanding presence at over six feet and a unique look especially with that special hair of his that you wouldn’t find on anyone else. His deep booming voice and commanding presence are both captivating as they are inspiring. Several people have changed reading styles for better after exposure to a presentation by this iroko of an author.
Chuma, like the traditional African writer is a social crusader who in addition to using the essence of the wig to fight has written fiction and non-fiction fighting perceived ills in society. His poem, ‘This Land is Mine,’ which he also reads this evening, is testimony of that.
Chuma has a zest for literature and would easily be caught in a literary underwear than any other garment. As mentioned earlier, he was in Makurdi for a literary workshop and took the time to do lots of mentorship and literary promotion. It gained him several fans and lots of well wishers, testimony seen in the number of people present here. It is for this and many more that the Sam Ogabidu led Benue ANA and the then National President of ANA, Dr. Jerry Agada on November 3rd, 2011 deemed it fit to honour him among others with a certificate of distinction for his literary zest and continued literary evangelisation.
This citation could go on forever but Chuma threatened to dose off if it does. So, we would break it a little not forgetting a proper toast: To a man who has done so much, we can only pray that far more greatness comes his way and that neither the ink of his thoughts ever dry, nor his literary muscle ever slack. Join me, ladies and gentlemen, friends and everyone present in welcoming the elder brotherly silently salient smiling and charming Chuma Nwokolo Jnr as he brings back the ghosts of Sani Abacha and enthrals us to a most delightful evening. Thank you.
(This citation was offered by Su’eddie Vershima Agema at at the Benue Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Guest Reading Session at the NUJ House, Makurdi on 23rd February, 2012)