The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has challenged African authors to revive the golden age of writing to solve contemporary challenges facing the continent.
The minister made the call on Friday in Abuja when Dr Wale Okediran, the new Secretary-General of the Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), paid him a courtesy visit.
Mohammed stressed that the golden era, when African writers effectively used their writings and collaborated with nationalist politicians to fight for the independence of African countries, should be revived to address the current challenges.
He specifically called on the writers to find solutions to the economic challenges facing the continent.
He added that the authors should use their writings to instil pride in the youth, while moving them to embrace African culture and tradition as well as use technology to promote the rich culture of Africa.
The minister said that African writers should continue “to tell our stories in the best African tradition and should not leave it in the hands of foreigners who would distort them.
“African writers should continue on the paths set by Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Ayi-Kweh Amah.
“These are African writers that many of us saw, not just as role models, but also as beacons that piloted us through adulthood.
“They made us very proud as Africans and at the same time, they drew our attention to the fact that after decolonisation, there were still many challenges,’’ he said.
Mohammed said that contemporary authors had greater roles to play in ensuring that they mentored the youth correctly, while instilling in them patriotism.
“Any nation that does not treasure its past and cultural values will be lost in sands of time,’’ he said.
Besides, the minister advised those writers who had attained global prominence to become the barometers by which the global community would measure their countries.
He, therefore, charged them to ensure that African writers should, at all times, be positive mentors to the youth as well as good ambassadors of the continent.
Earlier, Okediran had solicited the support of the minister for a successful tenure.
He specifically asked the minister to use his office to ensure that Nigeria paid its arrears of subventions to PAWA, as mandated by the AU.
PAWA, an umbrella body of writers’ associations in Africa and the Diaspora, was established in 1989 to strengthen the cultural and economic bonds among Africans.
Okediran, a Nigerian medical doctor, writer and cinematographer, is the new Secretary-General of PAWA.
Following the death of the founding Secretary-General of PAWA, Prof. Atukwei Okai, the position had remained vacant for about two years before the eventual appointment of Okediran.
Prior to the PAWA appointment, Okediran was a one-time President of Association of Nigerian Authors and a member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives.