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Conference on Ojaide’s life, literature and the environment holds in May

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Prof. Tanure Ojaide

One of Africa’s most prolific scholar-poets, Prof. Tanure Ojaide, turns 70 in April. For nearly five decades, his literature, especially poetry, has been an integral part of the making of the literary map of the land and people of the Niger Delta. This conference, the third of the international meetings organised around the literature of this author, celebrates this milestone and the legacy of five decades of service to African literature, especially the expanding body of literary texts collectively known as the “literature of the Niger Delta.” The third 3rd Tanure Ojaide International Conference holds in May 2 – 5, 2018 at the University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.

Ojaide’s literature is central to this tradition of Nigerian literature, and as one scholar puts it, “Ojaide’s poetry rekindles the interest that extends the boundaries of the reader’s sense of poetry into politics and culture, that deep-seated belief that words can actually translate into social action… and that words are divine tools with which the poet can change his/her environment.” He is, without doubt, the most consistent of the writers in this tradition and matters of the environment are inseparable from his sublime evocation of the cultures and peoples of the Niger Delta. His concern for land and people has been consistent in the stories about the Niger Delta that he tells, and this concern is not merely academic, a point he reiterated during the conferment of the Nigerian National Merit Award by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2016.

More than any other writer writing about the Niger Delta, Ojaide’s literature is the most consequential. In the five decades of writing about this region, he has taken the Niger Delta to the world and brought the world to the Niger Delta. This conference is a celebration of Ojaide’s five decades of service.

Framed around his creative and critical works, the conference organisers call for papers and panels around four areas of critical intervention: Literature and Life in the Niger Delta; Literature and the Environment in the Niger Delta; Oil, Literature and the Global Economy, and Eco-writing and Eco-criticism on the Niger Delta.

Interested participants should send abstracts to Dr. Obari Gomba (obarigomba@yahoo.co.uk & obarigomba@gmail.com) and Professor Onookome Okome (ookome@ualberta.ca) no later than March 30. Full papers must reach the organisers on or before April 30, 2018. A book of essays is planned from the proceedings of this conference and will be published by Africa World Press, New Jersey, U.S. All papers will be subjected to two blind peer reviews before acceptance for publication.

Some of the highlights of the conference include the presentation of the book of essays, Tanure Ojaide: Writing the Niger Delta – New Jersey: Africa World Press, 2018. Professor Harry Garuba (University of Cape Town, South Africa) and Professor Onyemaechi Udumukwu (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria) will give the key note addresses.


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