By Osondu Ahirika

It started with one man who dreamt. Today it is getting global acclaim. On September 17, 2021, the pet project of starting a Book Reading Club initiated by Elder Dr Udeme Nnana yielded a big harvest. The First ever National Conference of Book Clubs in Nigeria was held at Watbridge Hotel, Uyo.

As part of the Conference, Uyo Book Club presented her first in the series of its books.

One of the incisive books was, “The Seven Wonders of Akwa Ibom,” published by Uyo Book Club and written by the inimitable journalist, Inemesit Ina. It was presented and displayed during the Conference along with other books by other writers. Making book publication a regular affair became a new hobby for Dr Udeme Nana, Founder of Uyo Book Club.

By January 2022, the Raffia Book Club Ikot Ekpene came on board kickstarting the Reading year of the Chapter on January 15, 2022 with Dcns. Mary Jonah who also presented her review of Purple Hibiscus. Other special Guests included DIG Ekpoudom (Rtd), Iquo DianaAbasi, a poet and writer based in Lagos and Chijioke Amu Nnadi, a poet, writer and singer based in Port Harcourt all featured.  It was a grand session.

As we speak, the Uyo Book Club has against all odds leapt into international limelight.  A ‘Love Letter’ to Dr Nnana says it all. Unedited, the Letter reads:

“My Dear Brother, I am in Pretoria, South Africa to advise the Government of South Africa and help build a coalition for Africa’s intellectual emancipation.

My thoughts are on how I can engineer the further growth of the Uyo Book Club beyond the wonderful advancement that you folks have made. In about six weeks, I will contact you again with meaningful initial support and some programs.

Furthermore, I will suggest to my colleagues that they join the club whether or not they are from Nigeria. The Uyo Book Club can have a global scope but it must retain that name. Good things can come out of Africa.

I will be coming to Abuja to spend September 18-29 in Abuja to complete some engagements with the Federal Government of Nigeria. Beyond oil, the   State anchored on the activities of the Uyo Book Club can contribute to the global enfranchisement of knowledge. ”

Prof. Hilary I. Inyang.

Alas! The beloved Uyo Book Club initiative has gained traction and momentum going by the post above from one of our iconic Professors who has a global reputation and reach. I wholly agree with Professor Inyang’s submission that, “Beyond oil, the   State anchored on the activities of the Uyo Book Club, can contribute to the global enfranchisement of knowledge. ”

This milestone goes far enough to underscore the fact of the existence and strides of this intellectual hub. Most people back here still don’t understand the import of this Club. They may have thought wrongly that it was a political pressure group, fashioned by the erudite scholar, who incubated the Uyo Book Club in 2015 in his Akwa Ima Estate, Uyo, residence.

The correspondence from Prof. Hilary Inyang is a significant development that will revolutionise the development of this Club. Government at all levels, Corporate and Civil organisations, including the Academic Community should rally around this initiative and make it achieve its infinite potentialities.

I dare say not everything is politics or should be politicised. The Uyo Book Club is one such initiative which should be placed above the jaundiced fray of political interpretations or misconceptions.

As a coming attraction, anticipate an international Conference that is billed to hold in Watbridge Hotel and Suites from 15th – 18th September. 2022. An event of this magnitude by Uyo Book Club will take people away from politics and create an opportunity for making new friends, contacts, exchange of ideas and thoughts. It will further create opportunities to meet eminent and accomplished stars, bring the young and old together and provide opportunities for mentorship.

Just assess the International stars who are participating in the Uyo Book Club conference next week

1) Sur. Eddie Agema:  An outstanding Nigerian Poet and Culture Promoter

2) Sadiq Dzugogi: Poet, creative writer, teacher, and on the shortlist of the 2022 NLNG prize for literature for his work, “Your Crib, my Qibla”

3) Iquo Dianabasi: AkwaIbom born but Lagos-based creative writer who was on the Longlist of the 2022 NLNG poetry prize

4) Ogaga Ifowodo: 1998 winner of PEN/Barbara Goldsmith freedom to write award given to writers anywhere in the world who have fought courageously in the face of adversity for the right to freedom of expression

5) Nduka Otiono: Associate Professor of African Studies and English at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

6) Kate Ekanem Hannum: First Nigerian competitively chosen to represent the African Union of the Global G(irl) 20 summit in Istanbul, Turkey, Curator at Inspire Community Network foundation (Icon)

7) Prof Joe Ushie: Professor of Stylistics, Uniuyo and 2022 NLNG longlist

8) Ikhide Roland Ikheola: Chief of staff to the Board of Montgomery County public school in Rochsville Maryland, USA.

9) Prof Obot Etukudoh

10) Unyimeabasi Odong – Canada

11) Itoro Ekpo – Manchester , UK

12) Emem Uko

13) Professor Patrick Ebewo, Vice Chancellor of Topfaith University

14) Prof. Felicia Etim of Federal University, Otuoeke,

15) Professor Aheoma Ibegwan of University of Uyo

Others include Liberty Uboho Bassey,  a writer and a poet,

Dr Udeme Nana, a Writer,

Dr Martins Akpan, a well-known Doctor – Writer,

Dr Ekong Sampson and a host of other upcoming poets, writers and book enthusiasts.

Now, this is the most important and noteworthy point of it all. This Book Club has given Uyo, our capital city, a new perception as an intellectual hub. To wit, Uyo has become the Pioneer BOOK CLUB City in Nigeria!

Not Abuja

Not Ibadan

Not Lagos

Not Kaduna

Not Enugu

Not Jos

Not Kano

Not Port Harcourt

Not Calabar!!!!!

But Uyo Nnyin! Let’s celebrate grace and innovation.

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