From Dr. James Okpiliya

- Chairman of the Local Organising Committee

Amédi Ó

The city of Calabar has been home to many people of the world. Calabar derives her historical fame from her cosmopolitan character, being a crossroad for trade, culture, civilization and administration since the middle of the seventeenth century. After the notorious slave trade era, Calabar became Headquarters of the Southern Protectorate and by that token became the centre of gravity of south-eastern Nigeria. It provided the cosy ambience for the home of Lord Fredrick Lugard, William Goldie, Argyll Walter Robertson, Walter Egerton, Watt, Mary Slessor, Hope Waddell, Bishop Moinagh among many others.  Today, the pre-fabricated wooden complex that was the home of Lord Lugard (now the Old Residency National Museum, Calabar) stands majestically atop a hill at Leopard Town over-viewing the Calabar River and still gazing imperially over the brown roofs of what used to be old Calabar. Live testimony of its cosmopolitanism is in the descendants of expatriates from Ghana, Lebanon and Sierra Leone, who are now proud indigenes of Calabar. With traffic from the West and Asia and from many other parts of multiethnic Nigeria, Calabar remains the safest and most serene place for life; fulfilling the meaning of its acronym: Come And Live And Be At Rest (C.A.L.A.B.A.R.). Indeed, given the circumstance of insurgencies, militancy and terrorism in Nigeria, Calabar is the Last hope of the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole!

The multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual nature of Calabar metropolis has made it a vibrant centre for cultural activities. The African Club established in 1903 has been a rendezvous for African elites to unwind and politically engage.  As home of High life, Calabar has its own great icons in the High Life maestros: Inyang Nta Henshew, Peter Effiom, Ekpe Ita and the Late King Zoro Boy, who was the most famous remnant of that great cultural/musical tradition. Calabar has an incontrovertible place in the history of West African Literature. James Ene Henshaw, who pioneered modern African drama also provided a foundation upon which Joe Ushie and the late Ikeogu Oke have built their literary careers. In our time, the streets of Calabar and its budding FM  radio stations celebrate a host of vibrant, exciting and ever socially conscious Spoken Word artists, who themselves are giving verve to this new genre of poetry, providing a synergy and inter-phase between, the popular and bourgeois, the young and old, the town and gown!

In July, 2019 we welcome the world of poetry to the home of nuptial songs, the home of market and street banters, we welcome the world to the home of professional mourners and their deep elegies, we welcome the world to the home of Agábá chants, hip hop and Spoken Word. Welcome to the home of James Ene Henshaw, Inyang Nta Henshaw, E. N. Amaku, King Zoro Boy and Inyanya…

- Amédi Ó!  


University of Calabar