The fourth edition of the annual international festival to honour Nigeria’s main candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature will kick off at the Lead City University in Ibadan on May 29.

Poets, essayists, novelists, arts writers, academics and plain literary enthusiasts will gather at the University’s International Conference Centre, for the Niyi Osundare International Poetry Festival (NOIPOF).

The conference theme, Literature and Governance, Finding the Convergence for National Development, is fitting for what May 29, a National Public Holiday christened Democracy Day, means for the country.

“The aim is to see how governance in Nigeria can benefit from the intervention of literary minds who have the platform to speak on behalf of the people”, says Tunde Laniyan, Director of the Festival.

The opening ceremony, scheduled for 10am, is planned to feature a keynote on the theme by Tunji Olaopa, former Federal Permanent Secretary and Executive Vice Chairman, Ibadan School for Governance and Public Policy. A panel session will respond to the keynote address. There will, naturally, be readings of poems by the guest of honour.

Writers from the Oyo State chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors will put up two hours of poetry readings and performances. Lead University’s Theatre Department will be staging one of two plays by Osundare: The Wedding Car, or The Man Who Walked Away.

Students from over 10 secondary schools in the Ibadan area will engage Osundare in conversation. But why all these? One answer is found inside of the quote by Stewart Brown, a British poet: “Osundare is doing for African poetry what Derek Walcott did for Caribbean poetry, claiming and mining the language for his own ends. No English poet could use English language in the way Osundare does”.

A full programme of events will be out in the next fortnight.


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