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UNICAL hosts fifth Niyi Osundare global poetry festival

The University of Calabar (UNICAL) has hosted the fifth edition of the Niyi Osundare International Poetry Festival.

It was the first time the event was held outside the Southwest.

This year’s theme for the annual festival, which celebrates world acclaimed poet and literary icon, Prof Niyi Osundare, is: Popular Poetry and the Search for Development in a Modern State.

UNICAL Vice Chancellor Prof Zana Akpagu said International Poetry Festival was an opportunity to celebrate “the immortal and creative oeuvre of a great patriot, pan-Africanist scholar and humanist, whose public interventions have remained a rich source of inspiration and illumination in our beloved country”.

Akpagu, who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration, Prof Lucy Udida, said: “The festival’s overarching vision of promoting humanistic ideals through popular literature …falls squarely within the vision and philosophy of UNICAL. It is for the reason of visionary ambience of the festival and deep appreciation of our iconic scholar, Niyi Osundare – his person and works – that our university elected to host this year’s edition.”

The Chairman of the Niyi Osundare International Poetry Festival 2019, Dr James Okpiliya, who said Osundare is a household name the world over, described him as a versatile poet, first-class critic of African Literature, human rights crusader and a man with an unflinching love for the downtrodden.

“The idea to host this annual festival in Calabar was conceived last year when Prof John Ushie and I attended the Niyi Osundare Festival hosted by Lead City University, Ibadan,” he said.

Osundare, who is currently a Professor of English at the Univeristy of Orleans, Lakefront, New Orleans, in the United States (U.S.A), expressed gratitude for the honour.

“I am stunned. This is beyond description. But at the same time I must say I am not terribly surprised. This is fifth edition of this festival. I give a lot of credit to my two brother, Dele Morakinyo, the founder, and Tunde Laniyan, the Festival Director.

“The chemistry between the two of them and the professional understanding and mutual respect is responsible for this. Then,  UNICAL. Their delegation came to last year’s festival in Ibadan and said they would try to hold it this year and went to work. I feel really humbled.”