The delegation, led by the Secretary-General, Professor Atukwei Okai, asked for the support of the government to endow a literary prize of international standing to be called the Chinua Achebe Prize for Literature.
When a delegation of the Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA) visited President Goodluck Jonathan in his office, it was disclosed by President that “Bring Back the Book” initiative aimed at encouraging reading culture among the populace may be re-launched and made a national program.
Jonathan attributed the poor reading culture in the country to social media, adding that nowadays, young people prefer reading short texts than novels compared to their days.
The president pledged to mobilise funds from both the private sector and Anambra indigenes to endow a literary prize of international standing to be called, ‘The Chinua Achebe Prize for Literature’.
Jonathan, who was named Noble Patron of the association, thanked the association for the honour done to him.
“Anything about Chinua Achebe will be easy for us to mobilise funds. The money may not necessarily come from government coffers.
“But I will be able to coordinate some friends, especially from Achebe’s home state, Anambra, which has very vibrant young men and women who can support robustly if they are properly carried along.
“I can play that role. We will bring them on board to assist,’’ he said.
He noted that Achebe made the name, not just for Nigeria but also for the continent adding that “writers like you should be able to promote his name further’’.
Professor Okai informed the President of PAWA’s plan to hold this year’s International African Writers’ Day in honour of Achebe in recognition of his giant strides in literature.
“The International African Writers’ Day was established by the African Union to be celebrated annually throughout the continent to afford all the African people a moment to pause to reflect on the contributions of the African writer to the continent’s development. On these occasions in the past we have honoured writers like Nadine Godimer, Professor Ali Mazrui, Woke Soyinka and Professor Femi Osofisan. This year it is the turn of Chinua Achebe,” the leader of the delegation said.
He invited the President to be the Chief Guest of Honour at the event scheduled to take place in November in Accra, Ghana.
PAWA also congratulated the President and Rivers state government on the designation by UNESCO of Port Harcourt as the International Book Centre for 2014.