Saturday, November 03, 2012

Ebedi International Writers' Residency housed in the semi-rural, somewhat Muslim, Yoruba town of Iseyin, an hour outside Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.  
The founder-patron is Dr. Wale Okediran, a soft-spoken medical doctor who is also a prolific and award-winning writer. With at least ten novels/memoirs to his credit, the man also runs a medical column in the Nigerian Tribune.  Note: By all means read his Tenants of The House, 2010 winner of the Lumina (Wole Soyinka) prize for African Literature, and definitely one of the ten coolest novels Nigeria has produced in the past ten years.

Interestingly, Dr. Okediran is also a politician. He was the Secretary, then the President of ANA, the Association of Nigerian Authors. From 2003-2007, he was a legislator, representing Iseyin / Kajola / Iwujola / Itesiwaju area of Oyo State in the Nigerian National Assembly.  He was the ACN candidate for Senate (Oyo North Senatorial District) in the 2011 election.

I would like to read his other (harder-to-find) works, which include (primary source) and a handful of others:
Call to Worship, 1990 - won American Poetry Association Book Prize 
The Boys At The Border, 1991 - Commonwealth Literature Prize Shortlist
Rainbows are for Lovers, 2nd edition published by Spectrum Books 1993
The Rescue of Uncle Babs, 1998 - won ANA Prize for Children’s Literature  
Dreams Die at Twilight, 2004 - NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature Shortlist
Strange Encounters, 2004 - published by Heinemann, won ANA Best Fiction Prize 
The Weaving Loom, 2008 - shortlist Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa
Tenants of The House, 2010, cowinner with Coconuts (South Africa) is a captivating tale of politricks inspired by his tenure in the National Assembly.
Fearless, 2012, is a memoir of his House of Reps colleague, Femi Gbajabiamilla.

The Ebedi Residency is one of very few in Africa, and the only writers' residency I know of in Nigeria, so far.
It began humbly via blog/newsletter announcements in 2010.
Lola Okusami and Abiodun Adebiyi became the first residents in September 2010.  After reading about it in NEXT, I thought: wow, I really really want to do this, and after the boys had had their run, I was  in the fourth pair one year later.  Yess!

In its second year, our little residency became more international with writers from West and East Africa, and bigger - with an intake class size of three, up from two at a time.

What will year three and beyond bring?
Writers at Ebedi, Biodun and Lola
Why did Wale Okediran found the Ebedi Residency?  Read an interview here.

Who can apply?  How to apply?  I believe a website is in the works.  Otherwise, all I can say is that it is open to authors of fiction, poetry, or drama, and it is intended to develop the local community as well as enrich the larger world.  Your best bet is either follow a writerly newsletter or blog for upcoming announcements or email with enquiries about latest application requirements (usually a writing sample and bio/CV).

Cast and News for Ebedi International Writers' Residency

September/October 2010: Announcement, Press, Lola Olusami, Abiodun Adebiyi
November/December 2010: Interviews, Charles Oluyori, Kenechukwu Obi
January/February 2011:  Press, NEXT, Trust, A. Igoni Barrett and Emmanuel Ugokwe (Igbo language)

August/September 2011: Story, Press, Guardian, Nation, Spencer Okoroafor, Anaele Ihuoma
October/November 2011: Press, Story, Reactions, Interview, , Ladi Opaluwa, Tosin Otitoju (me)

January/February 2012 : Forum, NSnews, Punch, Doreen Baingana (Uganda, Commonwealth Prize 2009), Dr. Dul Johnson, Nehru Odey
March/April 2012 class: Announcement, Tribune, Interviews, Temitayo Olofinlua,  Barbara Oketta (Kenya/Uganda)

June/July 2012 class: Biographies, Press, Malawi's Stanley Kenani?, Press, Interview, Richard Ali, Niyi Fasanmi, Awwal Sakiwa (an illustrator)
September/October 2012 class: Interviews, Onyebuchi Nwosu, Macdell Joshua Sackey (from Ghana), Samuel Kolawole

November/December 2012 - three girls?

Recurring roles: Press, Salvation Otubu and the lovely secondary school students of Iseyin, Alhazan Abiodun, Aunty and Uncle Okediran, The Board (Alkasim Abdulkadir, Akintayo Abodunrin, Maryam Ali Ali, Uche Peter Umez, ...)
Dr. Wale Okediran, initiator of Ebedi Writers Residency Programme
2013 updates:
Nov/Dec 2012: Interviews, Blessing Mba, Lillian Christopher, and Salamatu Sule
Jan/Feb 2013: Story, Punch, Elnathan John, Musa Idris Okpanachi, John Kofi Asiedu Sarpong
Mar/Apr 2013: Four Women: Ayodele Olofintuade , Agiresaasi Apophia, Yewande Omotosho, Rukayat Olaleye
NEW Official blog: 

Advertisement: Read my books. (Preview)


t said...

Part 3
: We have been in touch with some of our writers abroad on the issue of engaging them one way or the other in order to make use of their skills and experience. I had a lengthy discussion on this issue with Harry Garuba during my last visit to Cape Town, South Africa, while Pius Adesanmi has promised to support the Association as soon as possible. We also welcome more suggestions from our members in the diaspora on this very important issue.

: ANA is a writers’ body in a developing country with a continuing history of government emasculation of free speech, sometimes leading to the harassment of writers. Does ANA have a properly organized means of intervening in these circumstances, or of generating public debate on good government?

Wale: ANA has a pool of friends/members in the media, law enforcement agencies and government. These people have always been ready to assist us whenever we call on them for help.

: Tell us about your own writing. You are a recent winner of an Association of Nigerian Authors Prize for Fiction. Is your writing being affected in any positive way by your involvements in politics?

Wale: Positively and negatively. Positive because I now have a lot of raw material, garnered from my political experience, with which I believe I can produce new and great works. In the negative way, the pressure and demands of [political] office have not allowed me enough time to read and write as I would have liked to do.

: In these days of conflict in the perception and interpretation of generations of Nigerian writing, have you any final Presidential word for the country’s writers, young and old, new and established?

Wale: My final word will be for our writers to develop a high degree of Emotional Intelligence with which they should deal with each other. They should try as much as possible to avoid the penchant for keeping malice and losing their temper on the slightest provocation. It is also my hope that once we can have more publishing opportunities as well as literary activities, the vocational frustrations which usually spark off these crises in the first instance will have been dealt with.

t said...

Part 2
: Much of your time as President has also been spent fire-fighting or settling disputes, in various branch associations and between varied writer interest groups. Did you expect to meet this much disunity in the body of writers?

Wale: Honestly, I never anticipated that things were as bad as I found them. Although I had expected that writers can sometimes be very emotional over certain issues, I never expected that these differences would degenerate to such high levels of attrition.

: As a member of the Nigerian legislature you are specially placed, it would seem, to lobby the case for increased government support to Nigerian writing. Does your partisan involvement in Nigerian politics and position in government actually help or hinder your effectiveness as the voice of Nigerian writers?

Wale: Not at all. In fact, my election as ANA President was well celebrated by my colleagues in the National Assembly. In his letter of congratulations to me, the Senate President, Senator Nnamani called my election a big honor for the Nigerian Parliament. He went ahead to sponsor an ANA prize for Igbo literature while the Speaker, Hon Aminu Masari hosted myself and the exco [ANA Executive Council] to a dinner to mark the occasion. All that demonstrations of support cut across party lines. The problem I had in pushing forward issues for writers actually came from the executive arm of government who by law are expected to execute decisions of the parliament. This difficulty came in view of the well-known hostility of our leaders to writers whom they don’t like to empower so that they will not expose their weaknesses and sometimes dishonesty.

: Who are your favourite writers in and outside Nigeria, and why?

Wale: I enjoy Russian Literature, especially the works of Pasternak and Dostoyevsky among others because the Russia of their time had so many similarities with Nigeria of today. In fact, Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed inspired my Dreams Die at Twilight, which was shortlisted for the first NNLG fiction contest. In Nigeria, Soyinka, Achebe, Osundare and the many of our other up and coming writers continue to fascinate me.

: These days a President of ANA must also pay attention to the growing body of Nigerian writers and writings outside Nigeria. Is there any plan to formally organize ANA representation outside the home country?

t said...

Dr. Okediran in a nice interview with African-Writing online here: AW1 (first issue, August 2007, interview)

Part 1
: Most writers are intensely political people but tend to avoid formal engagement in state politics as it involves electoral offices. You bucked the trend then as an elected member of a national legislature and now also as the elected President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA. Tell us more about the factors determining your involvement in politics, and if you think more writers, especially in the developing world, should be similarly engaged.

Wale: I was introduced to politics by Chief Bola Ige, the late Attorney General of the federation, who incidentally, was also a writer. It was his opinion that it is not enough for writers to criticize from the outside but should also get engaged in the political system from the inside. From my experience in the last four years, I agree entirely with him. When I first got to the House of Representatives, I felt out of place until I was able to find legislators of equal minds with whom we formed a group, The Forum for Democracy and Good Governance, which eventually formed the nucleus of the group that finally shot down [President] Obasanjo’s tenure elongation bid. The group has also been in the vanguard of insisting that only people-oriented policies see the light of day in the parliament. In view of all these achievements, it is my belief that more writers should join politics in order to improve the standard of our fledging democracy.

: What would you like to achieve and be remembered by as President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, and what have been the main difficulties you are encountering in pursuance of these objectives?

Wale: My objectives as ANA President are, to improve the standard of writing in the country through regular skill empowerment activities such as Writing Workshops, Literary Exchange Programs as well as regular publication of our Newsletters and annual Magazine. My Executive Council is also pursuing membership drives so that each of the 36 states of the country will have an ANA branch. Closely related to this is the membership auditing going on in all the chapters in order to improve the quality of membership. Finally, I will like to make sure that the ANA property in Abuja is fully developed and commissioned before the end of my tenure. In respect of the property, we have been able to get the services of a developer whom we hope will be able to complete the project on time. Finance remains the main challenge to all the above but we have been lucky with support from many donor agencies.

t said...

News update January 2017 - How Ebedi has grown!

I received the email message below from Dr. Wale Okediran and it's my pleasure to share it with you:

Dear Colleague

The year 2016, was for me, a mixed bag of happy and sad emotions on the domestic, professional and political fronts.

However, by the grace of God, I had a very fulfilling artistic endeavour in 2016. Hopefully, this should be a very good spring board for 2017.

Firstly, my peers, the Nigerian writers used the occasion of my birthday on April 14 2016 to mark the year's Read Across Nigeria (RAN) event with readings all over the country. I was really humbled by the phenomenon show of love and support from both young and old Nigerian writers who trooped out to organise reading activities in about 30 states in the country.

In spite of the Recession, I was able to release two new books in 2016 (my 13th and 14th publications) The first was a Short Story Collection -KEEPERS OF THE TRIBE (Published by Nelson Publishers, Ibadan in August 2016) and a Biography of the Aseyin of Iseyin (Published by Ebedi Writers Residency, Iseyin in Dec 2016)

Also, at the November 2016 annual convention of the Association Of Nigerian Authors which took place in Abuja, I was honoured with the Association's Fellowship award.

Again in November, The Flora Nwapa Foundation appointed me the Chairman of the National Organizing Committee of the EFURU@50 celebration. In this position with my fellow Committee members, I was in charge of organizing activities to mark the 50th anniversary Flora Nwapa's book EFURU in Lagos, Maiduguri, Abuja, Enugu and Owerri.

In addition, after a long waiting period,the Bank Of Industry, Marina Lagos finally approved the fund for the production of the Film Adaptation of my 2012 award winning Novel, TENANTS OF THE HOUSE. With this, it is hoped that the fund will soon be released for the Film to be ready for the International and Nigerian markets before the end of 2017.

Finally, just before the year ran out, I got two commissions to write the Biographies of two eminent Nigerians ( one, a serving State Governor and the second, the oldest living Commissioned Nigerian Army Officer) for delivery in 2017.



t said...

News update January 2017 - How Ebedi has grown!

I received the email message below from Dr. Wale Okediran and it's my pleasure to share it with you:


The Ebedi Writers Residency in Iseyin, Oyo State continued to wax stronger in 2016, thanks to Gods grace and the support of the Board Members, Staff, Friends and Writers.
Despite the recession, we had our full attendance of 8 sets of writers (three writers per set) making a total of 24 writers for the year. Out of these, 4 were foreigners while the rest were Nigerians. As always, we provided free boarding, meals, medicals and incidentals to the writers who in return, gave of their time and expertise to mentor secondary school students in Iseyin town.

In February 2016, the Residency played host to an august visitor, the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka whose presence in the Residency and Iseyin town was a real boost to Literature and the Residency Program.

In July 2016, some Ugandan Writers who are former Ebedi Residents (Ebedi Fellows) invited me to the annual convention of the Ugandan Female Writers Association (FEMRITE) in Kampala, Uganda. The event was a big celebration of Literary cooperation and networking across the African Continent.

The second edition of EBEDI REVIEW, a publication of the Residency was released in August 2016. The Review which received a lot of good reception is a much improved version of the first edition which was published in 2014.

Finally, in December 2016, another publication, TEN YEARS IN THE SERVICE OF HIS PEOPLE; The Biography of the Aseyin of Iseyin written by Wale Okediran was released under the auspices of the Residency.

We were able to achieve most of the above named ventures through a combination of the commitment of our dedicated staff, financial prudence as well as the support of well wishers, staff, family, friends and donor agencies.

In most cases, our friends and well wishers especially the Ebedi Board Members, Fellows and the EFURU@50 NOC and LOC members gave freely of their time and expertise.
In addition, because of our transparent track records in previously funded projects, some organizations and donor agencies still gave us some support even though very limited in nature as a consequence of the recession.

2017 IN VIEW

My belief is that 2017 will continue to be as challenging as 2016 in all fronts. In addition, there would still be a big reduction in financial support from the various arms of the Nigerian Governmental Agencies as well as International and Local Donor Agencies. To survive therefore, one will have to continue to be creative in executing new and viable projects while maintaining fiscal discipline in all kinds of artistic ventures. In addition, there will be the need to reduce to the barest minimum all forms of wastages and unnecessary luxuries while the spirits of patriotism, sacrifice and dedication should be imbibed.
For us at the Ebedi Residency, we are fully committed to running a full fledge program in 2017 that would involve both Nigerians and foreign writers.

Finally, regarding the much expected Film Adaptation of TENANTS OF THE HOUSE, we hope to adopt new innovations at combating the twin evils of Piracy and Poor Cinema Patronage already put in place by FilmOne and other professional movie marketers among other innovations.

Family, Friends, Journalists and Staff; Critics and Creditors; EFURU@50 NOC and LOC members. Cappello and the Diaspora Family; Uche and the BOI team, Denja and the ANA tribe; Khalid, Sanni, Ibrahim and the Kano mafia; Kofi, Nkem, Servio and the Ebedi gang.
Special thanks to Prof WS, Dr Bukar Usman, Alhaji Tofa, Our friends at Ford Foundation and NB Plc, Glory, Bode, Lawrence, Abimbola and other wayfarers...blessings.

Wishing you all the best of 2017.