Happy birthday to Cyprian Ekwensi, author of many beloved Nigerian books, who was born on this day in 1921. Before his death in 2007, Ekwensi was a friend and supporter of ZODML's initiatives. Click through to read Executive Co-Chair and Board of Trustees member Ifeoma Esiri's account of our second CATHY session which the writer attended:
"The first CATHY session took place on May 28, 2003. Chinwe Agbakoba, who was then the US Embassy's librarian, came to speak to pupils from Greenwood House and St George's Boys' and Girls' Schools about her book Nma and Nkita. Pleased with the success of the session, we decided to see if we could get Professor Cyprian Ekwensi to visit, as we had some of his titles at the Community Library at 196 Awolowo Road, and they were particularly popular with our younger visitors. We were able to get hold of his phone number and called him to ask if he would come to a CATHY session. After asking a few questions about ZODML's work, he agreed to visit us! As he was living in Enugu at the time, we offered to purchase him a plane ticket, but he demurred, saying that it would be too expensive and that he would rather take a night bus. He arrived in Lagos the day before the CATHY session, and I went to pick him up from the bus state. We had booked him a room at Ikoyi Hotel, but again he said no - he mentioned that he had a flat in Ojuelegba and would be perfectly comfortable there. We drove through the Lagos streets and arrived at a storey building - at the top of which was his flat. He climbed the stairs with a sprightly step and knocked on the door. It was opened by relations who were obviously not expecting him, as they scrambled about greeting him and tidying up. All he asked for was his room and a quiet place to put up his feet. The following day, he came to the Community Library for the session, which was an absolute success. The pupils - drawn this time from Corona, Ireti and Hope Primary Schools (the last of which is home to an Oasis Library) - had read his beloved novel The Drummer Boy and came with lots of questions which he happily answered. After he returned to Enugu, Professor Ekwensi kindly asked his publishers Heinemann to send us two copies of all of his titles! These books remain amongst the most popular amongst borrowers at the Community Library.
Read about the life and career of Cyprian Ekwensi and other great Nigerian writers in our Discover Nigeria section.[slideshow_deploy id='2001']
What's your favourite Cypian Ekwensi book? Share with us in the comments!