The Garden City, otherwise known as Port Harcourt, got into higher gear at 2PM on Saturday, January 31 when the African master of design Tony Chidi Akudinobi kicked off his exhibition entitled “Awakened African II: Path To A Fuller Canvas”. The splendid event held at Las Vence Doras, beside Bervely Hills Hotel, GRA Port Harcourt, and lasted until February 7. Emeritus Prof EJ Alagoa was the Special Guest Honour while legendary poet Gabriel Okara graced the special day of poetry readings. Profs Fiofori from the United States and Frank Ugiomoh gave scholastic interpretation to the sublime aspects of the exhibition. Ace filmmaker, photographer and journalist Tam Fiofori and Chairman Society for Nigerian Artists in Rivers State Diseye Tantua leant to the works on display filmic possibilities.
The fifth day of the exhibition marked the highlight with the presentation of poetry readings cum street calls. Pa Gabriel Okara, the legendary author of the classic poem “The Call of the River Nun” took the seat that was instantly renamed The Shrine. According to Okara, “To the Ijaw man, the River Nun was everything. It was like the air we breathe. As a child growing up, it was the source of life. We did everything in and by the river. And then there were the stories about the River Nun, of mermaids and mermen… I was fascinated by those stories…”
On his part, the distinguished actor Sam Dede showed his sterling qualities as a very engaging poet. Dr Obari Gomba of the University of Port Harcourt stunned the scene with his mellifluous renditions. Victor Nwokocha’s presence enlivened the atmosphere.
Then multiple award-winning poet Chijioke Amu-nnadi took to The Shrine, sitting by the side of Okara, to read his poem “Ihejuruonu”. The poem brought tears out of the eyes of the great Gabriel Okara. T
ony Chidi Akudinobi through his Awakened African II exhibition has put cultural life back as the centre-piece of events in the Garden City. May his tribe increase.
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