Amos Tutuola’s legacy pulsating in profiles at the lagoon
The Lagos leg of the yearly book convention organised by Delta Publications (Nigeria) Limited, Profiles at the Lagoon, will hold on Saturday, July 10. The venue is Kongi Harvest Gallery, Freedom Park, Onikan, Lagos.
The convention is an important festival that has been quietly keeping the book promise alive across the state.
It celebrates the late Yoruba author, Amos Tutuola, who was the first African novelist to be published in the English language outside Africa with his 1952 classic, The Palmwine Drinkard. The other book festivals in the circuit are Coal City Book Convention in Enugu and Capital Territory Book Convention in Abuja.
The literary event is an all-day celebration of Nigerian artists, who have recorded outstanding achievements in their chosen disciplines, which the organisers commended, as a major contribution to “the aesthetics of ‘Poetry’.”
An important component of the convention is that writers and educationists, who have distinguished themselves in the course of their careers, are honoured. This year’s event will celebrate Prof. Samuel Jide Timothy-Asobele and Dame Tito Obaigbo.
Literary activities will involve readings of poetry and short stories, also included in the citations of the profiles of the celebrants before their being presented with golden plaques and asked to ‘perform’ with trips down memory lane to reminisce on their careers, upon which the author is being conferred with ‘The Tutuola Palm for Poetry.’
According to Dillibe Onyeama, “the project is essentially a talent hunt — to discover and promote talent rooted in the need for creative flair to flourish. That is the one effective approach to create the basis of a viable society. With the notable example of the Obasanjo administrations, and to a lesser extent Yar’Adua, our political system has been largely destructive, and not creative. Hence to promote talents, who have demonstrated true creative flair, one is hoping to make an impact in society. The drive is schemed, to the end of maximum effect, in rooting it in the name of a hero. In the west, there is my idol, Amos Tutuola.”
He said, “we do the same yearly event in Enugu, 11 so far, where we immortalise the pioneer black author Olaudah Equiano at the ‘Coal City Book Convention’; and in the north, we eulogise the late novelist and sage Abubakar Gimba at the ‘Capital Territory Book Convention’.”
He said, “In Lagos, we have crowned such names as Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Folu Agoi, Akin Ajose-Adeogun, Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, Joop Berkhout and others.”
On the criteria used in selecting awardees, Onyeama said: “They must have made a significant impact in the drive for creative excellence. We have a planning committee that comes up with a list of names of people to be considered celebrants. It’s on pure merit, and no monetary obligation whatsoever is required nor requested of the awardees.”
According to him, there have not been significant major challenges since it started.
“Part of the programme is a book exhibition from which sales cover the costs of putting the programme together. Once it is well organised, you’re okay. We are first and foremost book publishers – Delta Publications (Nigeria) Limited – and the financial challenges of such fiestas have invariably been absorbed by our book publishing activities. You could even say they present an integral part of sales strategies.
“This is a free enterprise scheme, and as far as we are concerned presence from both the private and public sector has always been encouraging. Our earlier Lagos outings enjoyed a full house.”