Olu Obafemi 70th birthday conference postponed

by Araayo Akande

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt lives and activities in the country as the Professor Olu Obafemi 70th birthday anniversary conference has been postponed indefinitely.

The event in honour of the playwright and former National President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), would have happened from March 31 to April 4 at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.

But with a national lockdown imminent as more COVID-19 cases are recorded in the country, organisers have been forced to call off the event.

A statement from Chairman, National Committee on Olu Obafemi’s 70th Birthday, Professor Duro Oni and Conference Organising Committee, Department of English, University of Ilorin, Dr Mahfouz Adedimeji, broke the sad news.

It read: “This is to notify the public, especially the invited guests, conference participants and other stakeholders in the 2nd National Conference of the Department of English, the University of Ilorin in honour of Prof. Olu Obafemi and Olu Obafemi’s 70th Birthday that the Conference and other birthday activities scheduled to hold between March 31 and April 4, 2020, have been postponed indefinitely.

“This development follows the need to prioritise health and safety, per the Federal Government directives, on the unfortunate outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic in the world, including Nigeria. That the dreaded virus is now with us is an unassailable truth.

“Therefore, the new dates of the activities of the Conference, play productions, book presentations, lectures and luncheon will be announced as soon as practicable.

“The National Committee on Olu Obafemi’s Birthday and Conference Organising Committee of the Department of English, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, urge all Nigerians to adhere strictly to official directives on social distancing, staying at home, maintaining personal hygiene and other precautionary measures put in place in controlling the spread of the dreaded virus. We fervently hope that normalcy will resume soon as we join hands to combat and defeat this destructive and disruptive COVID-19.”

A playwright, poet and scholar, Professor Obafemi was born in 1950 at Akutukpa Bunu, Kabba, in Kogi State. He studied English at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, obtained an MA in English from the University of Sheffield and a PhD from Leeds University.

He is a leading Nigerian theatre/literary critic and prolific playwright with creative works including ‘Nights of a Mystical Beast’, ‘The New Dawn’, ‘Suicide Syndrome’, ‘Naira Has No Gender’, ‘Dark Times are Over?’, ‘Wheels’ and ‘Pestle on the Mortar’.

His scholarly works include ‘Nigerian Writers on the Nigerian Civil War’ and ‘Contemporary Nigerian Theatre: Cultural Heritage and Social Vision’ Obafemi was a Director of Research at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), a former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL). He was given the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) in the Humanities in 2018.

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