The Nigerian novelist, playwright and biographer, Bankole Omotoso, will be 70 years old April 21, 2013. His arrival at this significant landmark raises the flag for the generation of writers that emerged after the Achebe-Soyinka-J.P. Clark set.
“The event offers us an opportunity to draw attention to and appreciate his many-sided commitment to the literary arts as well as celebrate those with whom his path has crossed,”remarks Odia Ofeimum, a poet, in an e-mailed statement.
The celebrations will take off as a Special Reading, Kole Omotoso In Person at Jazzhole, on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, on April 17, at 4.30pm. The Kole Omotoso Exhibition — Akure to Jo’burg, will be on display from 12 noon on April 19 to 21. A Reception, An Evening for Uncle Very Very’s Nephew will be held at the Cultural Centre, Akure, on the exhibition’s opening date, April 19.
A special birthday lecture titled: ‘Radicals, Literature And Nigeria: Just Before 1914,’ will be delivered by G.G. Darah, a professor at Delta State University, Abraka, and will be chaired by Professor Akinwumi Ishola, at the Cultural Centre, Akure, on April 20, at 4.30pm. It will be immediately followed by Kole Omotoso’s South African play, Yes And ‘Know’ To The Freedom Chatter, directed by Felix Okolo and produced by Hornbill House. Akure to Jo’burg will be donated to a cultural establishment in Ondo State after the celebrations, in order to motivate a permanent means of attracting literary enthusiasts to the city that has featured so much in the celebrant’s many novels and short stories.
Omotoso is the founding general secretary and a former president of the Association of Nigerian Authors. “Quintessentially, there is a need to view Kole Omotoso’s achievements as a creative writer also in the context of his role as a pioneering activist in literary journalism. His literary editorship of Afriscope in the seventies, his Writer’s Diary in West Africa magazine, his travelogues in National Concord, and his Uncle Very Very series in the now defunct Daily Sketch, bear witness to his durable performances.
Kole Omotoso’s special creativity in these areas remain benchmark performances to which must now be added his continuing conversations with Nigeria – in the columns he has maintained on the pages of The News magazine and Vanguard newspapers.