Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, LIFE, LITERARY MISSIONARY

BENUE ANA KICKS OFF READING CAMPAIGN ACROSS SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN BENUE STATE

11th May, 2012: The Benue State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors in line with the promise of the current Executive flagged off the reading campaign in Mount St. Gabriel’s Secondary School, Makurdi. The Principal of the school, Fr. Angus Frazer welcomed the association warmly, thanking them for choosing his school first. He said that the school had a long tradition of greatness and had not in the distant come out tops at an impromptu competition among schools of the federation organised by Wole Soyinka at events commemorating his birthday. Fr. Frazer had to excuse himself as there were inspectors from the state ministry of Education had come to inspect certain things in the school. He apologised and prayed that the whole event would go on well.
The Chairman of the Association, Elvis Ogenyi took the floor and introduced the members of the association present. He started with Dr. Jerry Agada (immediate past National President of ANA and former Minister of Education II); Mrs. Maria Ajima (award winning writer and past President of Women Writers of Nigeria Association); Su’eddie Agema; Maik Ortserga (Secretary); Paul Ugah; Lawrence Injo; Raymond Anumve; and Fashamo Dennis among others.
After introducing the various members, the Chairman proceeded to telling the students the books that each of them had written. Each mention brought about obvious excitement and surprise as most of the books of the various authors are quite popular in the state and on the state school syllabus. When he introduced himself as the author of ‘The Pride of Apa’, there was a thunderous applause that went on for a long time.
The first reader for the day was Dr. Jerry Agada, who was once a Principal to the Government Secondary School, just beside Mount Saint Gabriel. He told the boys that he had always been proud of them. This got him thunderous applause. He proceeded to read ‘The Honourable Chairman’ from his collection The Secret Deal. There seemed to be some noisiness. However, Agada made the students a deal that if the story was not entertaining to them after his reading, he would pull his cap off and have them knock him each to their satisfaction. This brought great excitement as the students shouted in joyful approval. The flipside was that if the story was entertaining, they would clap till Agada told them to stop. This was agreed to. Dr. Agada read his story, explaining some deep traditional parts as well as performing the story as Mr. Ogenyi (ANA Chairman) held the microphone for him. At other points, Agada danced out portions of the story all to the delight of the students. When Agada ended his reading, the students had to be begged to sop clapping. It was obvious why he is called ‘Jerry the Story Teller.’
Maria Ajima took the next turn. She read two poems, ‘Why’ and ‘African Rhythm.’ ‘African Rhythm’ was a participatory poem that had the students chant ‘Boom’ after each line read by the poet. Long after she took her seat, sounds of ‘Boom!’ still filled the air.
By 12:00hrs on the dot, the guests were reminded of the proprietorship of the school. The school bells rang and there was silence all over the school grounds as the staff and students all stood up for the Regina Caeli, a Catholic prayer.
Raymond Anumve, a past state Chairman of the association read next. He read ‘Growing Up’ to the students who were a bit restless. It seemed to shake the reader a bit who did his best to make his reading more engaging. It seemed to work as they quietened. He ended with a faux pas by saying he hoped that the students (who are only boys, the school being a single school) would grow up to be great men and women. This met with some laughter. The students replied with ‘Boom!’
Paul Ugah, also a journalist with Sunrise Newspapers Taraba, read a piece from Bridge for Birds that detailed the state of affairs in the country. This was immediately followed by Lawrence Ternenge Injo who read from his debut novel, The Lost Maiden. Lawrence who is an old boy of the school having graduated in 1994 had lots of attention, the audience in solidarity with one of their own.
After Lawrence’s reading, the Chairman, Mr. Elvis Ogenyi brought the event to a new segment; the presentation of books and inauguration of the Readers’ Club. A total of thirty different titles by different Nigerian authors (not restricted to Benue) were donated to the Principal, Fr. Frazer on behalf of the school. A Coordinator for the Readers’ Club, Mr. Gerald Atim was also appointed.
Fr. Frazer thanked the association for the great honour and said he prayed that the step would build a firmer relationship between the association and the school. He continued that it had always been his desire to see far more A1 distinctions in English in his school and he was sure that with the inauguration of the Readers’ Club, that desire would be realised. He prayed God’s blessings on all and hoped that better tidings would come to one and all.
Pictures were taken and light refreshments offered to the visiting association in the office of the Principal. Some light banter was exchanged between the school and guests. Finally, it was time to leave. The Vice Chairman, Su’eddie Vershima Agema reaffirmed the association’s resolve to improve reading across the state and assured Fr. Frazer that there would be more programmes in due course to consolidate the day’s events. He prayed that the cordial reception afforded the association be sustained. The Principal, Fr. Angus Frazer said that he was glad that the association had honoured the school with the inauguration of the club, and by bringing several top writers.

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Some all-rounded writer with the wits to turn anything and everything to words with inspiration... cheering to glory and on...

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