Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Tuesday, described the late renowned novelist, Cyprian Ekwensi, as a “great thinker and lover of arts.’’
Soyinka spoke on Tuesday in Minna while paying tributes to Ekwensi at the inauguration of an e-library constructed in his honour by the state government.
The occasion was the 2nd Annual Muazu Babangida Aliyu MBA National Literary Colloquium organised by the state government.
“ What we are celebrating today is a vocation; it is a gratitude for making us know what we do not know,’’ Soyinka said.
He commended the state government for honouring the renowned author who was born in Minna.
Soyinka said that the state government’s action would entrench national unity and cohesion as well as promote literary works.The Nobel laureate, who said he was always thrilled to be among “ the people of the books’’ noted that the works of Ekwensi cut across ethnic divides and promoted national unity.
In his address, Gov. Babangida Aliyu of Niger said “ unless Nigerians respected those who teach and those who write, we will continue in the crime of corruption and ignorance.’’
Aliyu said he supported national integration because people from different parts of the country contributed to the growth and development of many towns in the country, citing the example of Jos and Minna.
He urged Nigerians to appreciate and celebrate intellectuals such as Ekwensi so that upcoming generation would emulate them.
The governor said the e-library would entrench the spirit of information communication technology in the people.
Ekwensi, the author of popular novels like “ Burning Grass,’’ “ Jagua Nana’s Daughter,’’ and “ Drummer boy,’’ died in 2007 at the age of 86 years.