By Innocent Odoh The Abuja Writers Forum, an umbrella body of literary writers and critics has paid homage to former South African iconic leader and foremost freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, even as it urged total liberation of Africans both physically and mentally.
The event, which was held in Abuja at the weekend and spiced with poems, short stories, music and talk on contemporary South African Literature, was organised to mark the July Guest Writer Series, which was an extension of the Nelson Mandela Day Celebration.
Speaking during the event, the High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa to Nigeria, Louis Lulu Nguni, praised the Writers Forum for the initiative to use literature to extol the virtues of the inspirational leader and to perpetuate his legacies of liberation, courage, dedication and selfless service to humanity.
He said further that Mandela clamoured for unity among all segments of the South African society and was a symbol of selflessness and a unifying factor for the freedom despite all the obstacles posed by the Apartheid regime. “Mandela fought for freedom and lived to see the freedom in South Africa,” he said.
President of the Abuja Writers Forum, Dr. Emmanuel Shehu, told our correspondent in an interview that the event was to encourage people to write skillfully and also to write in a way that is very relevant to the need of the society to show the need for good leadership, which Mandela epitomized.
Author of a collection of poems, “Letter to Mandela,’’ Mr Nkemneme Andy Chukwunonye, who delivered poems on the virtues of Mandela, told our correspondent in an interview that in the present time the message of Mandela still holds because there are still some oppressors in Africa. “Africans are making Africa to shed their own blood on their own land because of selfish interest. Africa needs liberation and it is a call on everybody to fight for the right of the African mind.
“Mandela said that education is the key to liberating Africa, so he is telling us to as much as possible open the doors to schools so that the doors to prisons would be closed. Mental liberation is key so everything possible must be done for our schools to be properly financed and harnessed so that we and the generations to come can be mentally liberated,” he said.