NGO promotes reading culture through rewarding young writers
The Towunmi Coker Literary Initiative recently awarded winners in the 4th edition of Teecoks Writing Competition, founded by Dr. Towunmi Coker. The award ceremony, held in Alausa, Lagos, had in attendance over 2000 students from schools in Lagos and invited guests.
Coker, who founded the competition in 2013, said the motive was and remains to promote reading and writing culture among Nigerian students, as well as, build and train emerging writers and lovers of writing in the country.
According to him, “Nigeria is known for producing wonderful writers and intelligent story tellers, and we want to maintain this and achieve even more.”
She told her guests how she won the Association of Nigerian Authors/National Examination Council Prize (2007), adding that she wanted other students who loved to write not to stop but to develop their gift, talent and flare for writing.
“I left for medical school immediately after my secondary school,” she informed. “In medical school, it was very easy for one to forget about the flare for writing. I felt that some other young people might be in that same situation because of their chosen profession. I set up Teecoks Writing Competition to motivate such young writers to keep doing what they have passion for.”
Over the years, the founder said the quality of entries keep improving, which shows that young people are reading and have taken to writing as well. “One of the challenges we had in this edition was with some public schools that refused their students participation, asking that we gave them certain amount of money. We even offered to fuel their buses but to no avail. I feel such actions could hinder the students from realising and maximising their potentials because their schools see it as a money venture.
“This is a great opportunity for some government schools to acquire some basic needs. During our interviews with some of the students, there were complaints that some of their schools have no libraries.”
The awards were in two categories – Poetry and Prose Fiction writing. The poetry category saw Adebogun Oluwatosin of Ansar-Du-Deen College, Isolo, picking the first prize, while Ogbonna Godwin of Ajegunle Senior High School and Oyebola Ibukunoluwa of Mary of Providence Heights Secondary School took home the second and third prizes respectively.
The fiction category had Ibukun-Oluwa Addy, from Chrisland College, Idimu as overall winner, Oguntayo Favour of Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School came second. while Adetayo Ayomide of Christ the King International School came third.
Chair of the occasion, James Abiodun Faleke, advised the students to cultivate the habit of writing and speaking good English to shape them for the future. He stated that students should not rely so much on social media.
Guest speaker, Dr. Dami Ajayi, spoke on the importance of literature and shared his childhood experiences with the students. He said he was exposed to poetry at a young age and was writing poetry about slavery, adding, “I was reading everything I could lay my hands on because literature teaches you empathy.”
Ajayi advised the students to read at least one book every week, adding, “read everything that interests you.” An elated Ibukun-Oluwa Addy, who took the first prize, with his piece on terrorism in Nigeria, expressed gratitude to God for the accomplishment, noting: “This competition has made me believe in the idea that Nigerians can actually be successful in writing. It has encouraged a lot of people to write, as it is a way of income. I didn’t believe there was a thing like this in Nigeria.” Miss Addy hopes to be a movie producer in future, and advised young people to strive to be what they want to be by working hard.