The Tourism industry could be said to be one of the trusted revenue generators of a state or country if handled properly. The role of tourism in the development of a state cannot be overemphasized as it could be a strategy used to maintain the flow of cash into a state, for instance the Dubai example. But on the other hand, tourism development could be threatened when Tourists are not ensured of their safety. A state that have had several cases of kidnapping, armed robbery, etc could be said not to be the perfect tourist destination but Anambra could still be transformed despite all those sad tales coming out of the state and that is what literary events and their likes tend to achieve – bringing like minds in the creative industry together not just to discuss creativity but also issues pertaining to nation building.
The 2nd Anambra Book and Creativity Festival (ANBUKRAFT) held between the 26th of February and the 1st of march 2014 at King David hotel, Awka. The event which was ran with the theme “Reinvigorating the Literary, Creative and Cultural Enterprise in the Realities of the Millennium Turn” featured various activities and presentations from seasoned and young artists, educationists, writers, publishers, literary and art critics, art lovers, film makers, craft makers, actors, poets and musicians from different parts of Nigeria and beyond in addition to several roundtable discussions and a five-day exhibition of books and crafts. On display were several paintings on the Nigeria-Biafra war, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and a host of other paintings and crafts, some of them with Uli markings. The theme of the event which was further dissected into various presentations, saw speakers cum artists like Prof. Ben Obumselum, Rev. Fr. Ositadinma Amakaeze, Prof. Damian U. Opata, Prof. Ayo Oloidi, Mr Lasse Lau and a host of others speak to and engaged the participants in series of discussions while the programme lasted. The event which had renowned poet and literary critique Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo, The Chief Judge of Anambra state Justice Peter Umeadi and the Vice Chancellor of Madonna University Prof. C.E Ezedum in attendance climaxed with an award ceremony which saw a number of artists and other participators in the industry rewarded for their contribution to the creative industry.
This interesting and highly educating programme was almost marred by a low participation as chairs were looking for people to sit on them but resilience and dedication was at play as the organizers of the event led by one of Nigeria’s foremost visual artist Prof. Chuu Kryd Ikwuemesi held on till the last day. It is rather appalling to have resource persons come from other parts of the country and the world to share information and disseminate ideas only to be greeted by empty seats for an event that was greatly publicized. If people from other states and countries, knowing how impactful the program would be could travel long distances just to attend the event, I wonder why Anambrarians in whose domain the event is being held would snub it. It is about time that we put a stop to the generalization that Anambra people and the Ibos in particular only understand the language of money or business and this stereotype is part of the reason why literary events like this don’t seem to be common in Anambra. We shouldn’t forget in a hurry that the state also produced the likes of world acclaimed novelists Professor Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Chimamanda Adichie, one of the foremost Nigerian fine artist Prof. Uche Okeke, Prof. Kenneth Dike, the first Nigerian sculptor Prof. Ben Enwuonwu and a host of others currently making wave in the creative industry.
Literary events like ANBUKRAFT would not just boost Tourism in Anambra state but would export the people’s culture to other parts of the country and the world. It would also serve as an avenue for young artists, art lovers, writers, academics, and craftsmen etc to meet themselves and with some of the people they look up. With that in mind, the government, institutions, agencies, corporate bodies and individuals have both participatory and sponsorship role to play in other to ensure the continuity of ANBUKRAFT and other events of the same nature. Away from the success recorded in terms of commerce in the state, there is need to place the state in the world map of creativity just like some other states in Nigeria have done with their various literary events and festivals and this is part of what ANBUKRAFT aims to achieve.
There is a need for more events and workshops of this nature in the state so as to awaken the creative spirit in the younger generation, mould budding talents as well as provide them with skills that would help them earn income, contribute to nation building and hence, make Anambra the true light of the nation as is being carried by its slogan.