ONE of the less known evils of oil is that it dominates its environment. I am not talking about the pollution. Oil takes over everything, dropping and dumping itself on everything. Its dominance is so emphatic that nothing else seems to matter. It may surprise it. I am a witness to the surprises.
How can anyone be surprised that Port Harcourt is hosting literary events? Why the questions about our qualifications to have literary minds, or have literary interests. You can see what oil has done, and is still doing to us?
Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, is also a home for literary minds, asides been known its oil, politics and bole and fish. The State has given birth to great minds like Elechi Amadi and many others who are making meaningful contributions to the art via its various genres: drama, prose, poetry and of course music.
Is it possible that you have never heard of the Port Harcourt Book Festival, formerly known as Garden City Literary Festival? It ran annually for five years. In July 2012, UNESCO, IPA, IBF and IFLA named Port Harcourt the World Book Capital for the year 2014, making her the 14th city in the world to be selected as World Book Capital and the first in Black Africa.
It hosted authors Wole Soyinka, Kofi Awoonor, Gabriel Okara and Prof. E J Alagoa, Elechi Amadi, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, J.P. Clark, Buchi Emecheta, Okey Ndibe, Kaine Agary, Sefi Atta, Petrina Crockford, A. Igoni Barrett, Lindsay Barrett, Toni Kan, Fela Durotoye, Tade Ipadeola, Jumoke Verissimo, Abimbola Adunni, and Joy Isi Bewaji.
President Goodluck Jonathan, American activist Jesse Jackson, former Cross Rivers State Governor Donald Duke, former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Emeka Anyaoku, Véronique Tadjo, were special guests. Mrs. Koko Kalango co-ordinated the Book Capital project, which with the Port Harcourt Book Festival, were among literary initiatives of former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
I can therefore say that Port Harcourt is on the map of the world not only as a global oil and gas hub, a seaport, but also as one of the world’s book capitals. Port Harcourt stood firmer on the international literary, five years ago when UNESCO confirmed its World Book Capital status.
Just recently, the Port Harcourt Literary Society, PHLS, appointed Mr. Chijioke Amu Nnadi its resident poet. Shortly after his appointment, he unveiled two literary events, the PHLS Literary Evening & Open Mic, an evening for lovers of literature who are gifted in the arts to showcase their talents, providing inspiration and relaxation for others.
The event is scheduled to hold once Friday evening every month at 4pm at the Port Harcourt Book Centre. The maiden edition of the PHLS Literary evening & Open Mic held on the November 3
The PHLS Literature For Teens, PHLS LIFT, is the second brainchild of the resident poet; PHLS LIFT is geared towards encouraging reading and the appreciation of literature in our secondary schools. It provides mentorship for young minds that are literarily inclined and may be needing tutorships on various subjects or matters related to literature. Each month, select secondary schools in the state are invited to the Port Harcourt Book Centre
where the students representing each school are taught, motivated and encouraged by select young writers.
At the end of the sessions, the schools are advised to organise their own Junior Literary Society events. The first edition of took place on the November 10.
In line with all these, the Port Harcourt Book Centre and the Port Harcourt Literary Society will set to host the residents of Port Harcourt and its environs to its second edition of the Literary Evening & Open Mic on Friday, December 1 at 4pm. You are invited to see more sides of Port Harcourt – or can I say that Port Harcourt is diversifying?
Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org