SOLIDARITY MESSAGE FOR ANA CONFERENCE
BY Erelu Bisi Fayemi
It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the opening of the 37th Annual ANA Conference. I would like to thank our President Mr Denja Abdullahi and his colleagues for inviting me. You will note that I used the word ‘our’ which means I consider myself a full member of ANA, even though I have not filled a membership form yet. I am particularly pleased to have been asked to flag off another phase of the ‘Book a Child’ project which is a very important flagship program of ANA.
I have several identities – feminist activist, policy advocate, social entrepreneur, political spouse and so on. However, my identity as a writer gives me a lot of joy, peace and satisfaction. Three things inspire me to write:
To be heard
To bear witness
People often ask where I find the time. My response is usually that you find time for the things that are important to you. I admit there was a time in my life when I did not have the time to write beyond what was required of me professionally. However, I have come to the understanding that what often weighs me down and gets in the way is not necessarily time, but the sheer enormity of translating what we see, hear and talk about on a daily basis into formats that make sense, even when we ourselves can’t make sense of the world around us. Whether we write novels, poetry, plays, children’s books, essays, however we choose to express ourselves, when we write we are doing a combination of speaking up, bearing witness, teaching and learning. Very few writers ever get rich from writing, they are a tiny percentage. Yet we are astronomically rich when it comes to imagination, creativity, passion, courage, envisioning and engineering. These are the attributes that help transform societies and change narratives. There is a lot to discourage us as writers and a lot that makes us feel unappreciated. However, as we harness our respective talents using the formidable platform that ANA provides across the country, we discover that the burden gets easier as we leverage on our mutual strengths, use our diversity to full advantage and take our responsibilities as creators of ideas and knowledge seriously.
I bring you warm greetings from Ekiti State, the Land of Honour, also known as the Fountain of Knowledge. In his inauguration speech on October 16th, our Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi identified Knowledge Economy as one of the four pillars of his administration alongside Social Investments, Infrastructure Development and Agriculture. This means that the State will not only prioritise investments in education, an enabling environment that encourages creativity in all its forms will be provided. As part of the inauguration activities, there was a JKF Essay Writing Competition, aimed at encouraging young people to write and express themselves, and it was very successful. The lessons- learnt from that experience will inform how we address this issue going forward, knowing the context we are dealing with now. We now live in a world of limited attention spans, an anti-intellectual culture encouraged or condoned by a selfish elite and in a time when the ability to write a coherent essay is a rare feat. The reward of the writer is not in heaven. Our reward is right here on earth, in every line, page and volume we write, living testimonies for generations to come. People will love us, some might not like us, it does not matter. What is important is letting the world know what we think.
Once again, I thank ANA for inviting me. I hereby formally declare the Book A Child Campaign open. I am making a private donation to ANA and will also establish a partnership with ANA Ekiti to ensure that the government plays a role in encouraging a culture of writing and reading.
God bless you all
Erelu Bisi Fayemi supporting Mama Mabel Segun, author of “My Father’s Daughter” to sit down at the Lagos Airport Hotel Conference Hall, venue of ANA 37th Delegate Conference. Erelu Bisi Fayemi was the only woman amongst other women on the high table who knelt down completely with her two kneels for the great feminist Author of the 1970s fame