THE LOYOLA JESUIT WORKSHOP FOR WRITERS (I): PRE

7th July, 2012

This comes in three parts: The first which is the personal experience and events leading to the workshop, then the second, the workshop itself and finally, the aftermath. Of course, you can jump to whichever part suits you best or just go to the full article. But here we go…

You can imagine the surprise when I was approached by a colleague, the Secretary of the Benue Association of Nigerian Authors, Mr. Maik Ortserga (who is also the Executive Editor of Aboki Publishers) to facilitate a workshop for young writers in Loyola Jesuit College, Gidan Mangoro. I was to go as an author, teach and share my work. The last time I had taught any literary class professionally two years ago. It wasn’t a funny experience. I was teaching great students who hadn’t been exposed to proper English two subjects: English – which like I mentioned they had little knowledge from, and to make matters worse, Literature in English. Wow! It was in Bantaje, Wukari Local Government and there had to be many sleepless nights to get to prepare lesson notes, improvise and do lots of things to make my students learn. I wondered what the Loyola trip would be like. We had had issues as somehow, we got to infer from a message that there would be no need for any facilitation of creative writing. I would simply have to go and read my work to the participants. I quickly closed my system and forgot all preparations of the paper I would share with the students the next day.

We drove into Abuja at night and lodged into a hotel.With nothing to do, I had a long walk with Maik and discussed much. Had some a meal to wish for but don’t worry, not telling. Can only say suya was part of it.

The next day awakened to another literary class in a different school: the Loyola Jesuit College, Gidan Mangoro en route Orozo, and Karshi [where I found myself schooling at some point]. I wondered what to expect.

I was with the Manager of Aboki Publishers, Mr. Benjamin Yio and the Executive Editor, Maik Ortserga.  Somehow we found our way to the school with some adventure. Well, we finally got there and were kept at the gate to await confirmation of our status as guest facilitators. Men, those guards sure stood out like some Americans in some big facility. The Principal, Fr. Ugo Nweke (SJ) came by somehow, and later the tutor we had been talking with, Mr. Wilson Ikwebe. It turns out he was one of those guys who had been a force to reckon with in the Benue State University back then. He showed us around as we headed for the hall where we were to meet the students.

We opened the door and there were those students – prim and proper. Then Mr. Ikwebe told us we had to facilitate. Ouch! I knew I was very far from Bantaje. There was a projector and I had to smile that the burden of my laptop was going to be rewarded. The regret was I had not finished the tutorial I was writing in the thought that there would be a different facilitator. Phew! I prayed and after all, we found a way to know each of ourselves. We wrote our names – participants, teachers, and us. We had our names written on a paper and tagged to our shirts. Well, the participants and staff did. With the imposing yet benign figure of Mrs. Omotayo Smith, we were assured it would be well. We had Mr. Togo Matthew and Chukwuemeka Nwaoha close by to aid. Mr. Ikwebe introduced us and said the programme was in organised by the Aboki Publishers in collaboration with the Association of Nigerian Authors (Benue Chapter) – plus SEVHAGE, I had to add. As we got around, I moved about, noting the names of the students and chatting with a few. They all seemed pleasant and best of all, their English was near perfect. Nice! At least, there wouldn’t be mixing Hausa with Turanci (English)! We were set. We prayed led by Mrs. Smith…

Hmm…

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