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38—VANGUARD, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018 08070524223 ‘Dusty ty Manuscript Contes est’ f IN an era when the use of social media and web technology has taken over the reading culture and book publishing in Nigeria, thus compelling some authors and publishers to embrace online platform, there are still some unheard writers whose works may have garnered dust as a result of inability to meet the requirements of both media. Majority of those who fall into this category are upcoming writers that still have their scripts intact. On a rescue mission, therefore, to give visibility to this group and launch them into limelight, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, decided to launch the Dusty Manuscript Contest to give budding writers the opportunity to win publishing deals for their finished, but yet-to-be published, manuscripts. Unveiling the initiative in Lagos on February 7 at Herbert Macaulay of your birth as a limitation to the realisation of your dreams, even if they are more fraught with lack, more underprivileged, than mine. From the age of 12, in secondary school, I was constrained to earn all the money I paid as school fees from menial jobs because my parents, though responsible and firm in their resolve to give all their six children a good education, could never have earned enough to do so owing to inhibitions imposed by their own underprivileged backgrounds. I can even say that I am proud of my heritage of an underprivileged background for teaching me the invaluable lessons of self-denial, of delayed gratification, and the transcendence of hard work, far better than I might have been taught had I come from a privileged background. And these, in my view, are important lessons for success. And if, in spite of the privation associated with being lowborn, I can arrive at the privilege of being the recipient of this extraordinary honour, so can any child born of poor parents, any parent in fact. It can be any child who can set forth at dawn, set their goals and priorities right, pursue them with single-mindedness, and be ready to crack their palm kernel if no benevolent spirit shows up to crack it for them. It can be any child who understands that, as Thomas Carlyle said, “Perseverance is the anchor of all virtues.” Also, that I stand here today disproves the charge that Nigeria does not reward merit, excellence or hard work. My experience that culminates in this event is proof that it does, that it is actually a land of possibilities in which even improbable dreams can come true in spite of the crying need to make it “a more perfect union” as the former United States President, Barak Obama, once said about his country. It is an experience more sour than sweet, more painful than joyous. It includes waking up one morning about 16 years ago to realise that my severance benefit from my first job from which I was retired prematurely and placed on pension at 33 years, after 15 years’ untainted service, had been trapped – and it *From left: Eghosa Imasuen; Enajite Efemuaye, Managing Editor, Farafina; Oyinade Adegite, Assistant General Manager/Head, Communication and External Affairs, GTBank; Toni Kan; Okechukwu Ofili, Chief Executive Officer, Okadabooks during the press conference in Lagos. Library, Yaba, GTB in partnership with Okadabooks and Farafina Publishing companies said the contest is part of the institution’s ‘YouREAD’ initiative which is remains trapped – in Savannah Bank, following its closure for an alleged breach for which the depositors who bore the brunt of the precipitate closure by the authorities were not responsible. It includes being persecuted out of several jobs by bosses averse to propriety in the workplace. But what does my current experience say? The same land that can rip hope out of your breast can restore it in manifolds if you will not give up on it. I have a story, I shall tell it without vainglory, A story to inspire, And light men’s souls with fire. The primary role of the poet is to create beauty with words, like other types of artists whose primary roles are to create beauty through their various mediums of expression. Yet, we know that art is hardly, if ever, unalloyed with functionality. That it is almost always applied and hardly pure. That even its affective function implicates inherent applicability, if utilitarianism. That it is hardly ever strictly an ornament. And, as poets and other forms of artists, I think we should never cease to ask ourselves if we should be satisfied with merely creating beauty through our work in a world in which ugly occurrences constantly threaten such beauty. To pose it as a question: Should we plant gardens and allow them to be overrun with weeds, or adorn our world with our work and overlook its being blighted by injustice and other ills that may threaten its peace? Or, put differently, can we not be cultivators of beauty as well as what Niyi Osundare calls “the eye of the earth,” using our work to police the earth against harm, while engaging in other possible activities to improve its lot and cultivate its wellbeing? If we say yes to the former and no to the latter, which should be surprising t’ for unpublished writer ers on how to showcase writers who with publishing contracts with have never been published, give Farafina as well as cash rewards. everyone opportunity to be heard The top 10 entries will get their and let Nigerian readers in on books e-published by good stories that have gathered Okadabooks, including book dust over time. The prize money, cover design, book editing, and he said, may not count much but publicity. The authors will also to get published, which is every get a two-day boot camp training writer’s dream, is more important on writing, marketing and than the money. “It is a maiden branding. edition we intend to sustain.” Commenting on the Dusty Dr. Imasuen clarified that the Manuscript Contest, Mr Segun project is about unpublished Agbaje, the Managing Director manuscripts and not of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, said: unpublished writers; and that the “At GTBank, we see art as not just competition will be based on a medium for creative expression general fiction genre with but also as a means of livelihood, quality. Laying emphasis on and by organising the Dusty romance, crime, and fantasy, Manuscript Contest, we are Imasuen said that a good helping budding writers make a fictional work by a Nigerian living off their works. By writer will be accepted. “It is a addressing the major barrier that prized competition we hope to our indigenous writers face in use to discover new writers.” sharing their stories with the Entries in the competition is world, we hope to inspire and expected to produce about 25 develop the next generation of book authors under which the top award-winning and globally three entries will be rewarded renowned authors.” aimed at promoting the culture of reading in Nigeria. Speaking at the briefing, Okechukwu Ofili said it is an initiative proposed by Okadabooks ‘Give all you have to what you do and love ve it with all your heart’ t’ Continued from pg 37 especially for the former, then why do we praise Pablo Neruda’s Spain in Our Hearts? Why do we commend Pablo Picasso’s Guernica? Why do we acclaim Nadine Gordimer’s My Son’s Story, Wole Soyinka’s A Play of Giants, and many more of such remarkable works of art which meld their originators’ love for creating beauty with their interest in championing a better world? A Stradivari violin, an Amati, are beautiful objects. But from that beauty we extract music; and our world is better off for it. Art is basically an instrument for transmitting aesthetic pleasure. But it can transmit more. And artists can consciously make it transmit more for the betterment Art is basically an instrument for transmitting aesthetic pleasure, but it can transmit more; and artists can consciously make it transmit more for the betterment of our world of our world. If permitted a singular use of metaphorical licence, I would describe The Heresiad as a mirror of a poem as a dreamer and pacifist, among other germane inferences that may be drawn from the work. For while defending the various freedoms I think we should all uphold as humans, those freedoms that form the bedrock of liberal values, especially freedom of expression, it urges their exercise with sensitivity to the legitimate feelings and interests of others. And even in the face of an offensive breach of such sensitivity, it encourages supporters of the offender to pacify the offended by acknowledging the offence. It then urges the latter to show leniency, as in the last of its following couplets spoken by one of the loyalists of Reason seeking to prevent the execution of the death sentence pronounced on the author accused of heresy in the poem as an aftermath of his exercising one of such freedoms. And even in the face of an imminent armed confrontation, the poem creates a hero, Reason, who makes a personal commitment to pursue his interest in saving the author without recourse to arms. Thus: Here, then, lies the essence of the poem as a dreamer and pacifist: its simultaneous envisioning of the de-escalation of conflicts strictly by conciliation and their resolution through personal commitment to eschew the use of arms. In fact, it offers these, within and beyond the bounds of verse, as general principles for engendering peace in the world. They are also reflections of my belief that, though as artists we must fulfil our primary obligation to create beauty through our work, we can also make art more useful by using it to stimulate the evolution of a more liveable world. The poem does the latter by promoting peace (in a context that integrates respect for life) among countless options of such engagement open to artists across the world. And I have tried to do the former by creating such a book-length poem whose every line can be sung and set to music, making it a book-length art song, a musical epic in four cantos that may also be described as a literary symphony in four movements. I call it operatic poetry, a new genre of poetry intended to open new frontiers for its enjoyment. For I consider its action, drama and music primed for realisation – and to be realisable and awaiting realisation – as opera. And I clearly anticipate the materialisation of this artistic vision like the world which, as Santayana reminds us, Columbus found without a chart. I might not have entered for let alone won this prize but for a friend and fellow writer who read the manuscript of The Heresiad and asked me to submit it for the prize, describing it as “a magnum opus”. Though flattered by the description, I hesitated, explaining that it was unpublished and needed more work before I would consider it publishable. He later wore down my resistance with his gentle insistence. Would we have been here today, I on this side of the proceedings, but for his special encouragement? I doubt it. To this inspiring friend, Wale Okediran, I dedicate this prize, and to many others like him who offered various forms of encouragement for the 27 years I worked on The Heresiad. “We must always give back,” Nadine Gordimer, my friend and mentor, said to me at our last meeting before her demise in 2014. To this friend I have given back a token of a poem, entitled Goodwill and Destiny, that is also a song. But I have modified it to the following lines for the purpose of this speech and have had it set to music, which I consider the worthiest companion of poetry. I crave your indulgence to rise and join me and let us read and sing it as believers in the value of goodwill, friendship, gratitude, and as a song of universal brotherhood, and to the glory of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, my Muse, the Ebony Pearl, and Nigerian Literature, addressing the fourth and sixth lines respectively to the male and female next to us as we read and sing: We are what we are because of others With whom the heavens steer our lives like rudders. And may the heavens gift your life a rudder Like this brother from another mother; And may the heavens gift your life a rudder Like this sister from another mother.

VANGUARD, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018 — 39 Trump to Israel: Settlements complicate peace hopes US President Donald Trump has said Israeli settlements “complicate” the peace process with Palestinians and urged “care” over the issue. He also told an Israeli newspaper that he did not believe the Palestinians, and possibly Israel as well, were ready to make peace. President Trump angered Palestinians in December when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He also threatened to withhold aid unless Palestinians agreed to talks. The US leader’s latest comments came in an interview published on Sunday with the conservative newspaper Yisrael Hayom. Asked by editor-in-chief Boaz Bismouth when the US A man holds an infant while another man holds a child after an airstrike in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, would present its peace plan, Mr Trump said: “We will see what happens. Right now the Palestinians are not into making peace, they are just not into it. Regarding Israel, I am not certain it, too, is interested in making peace so we will just need to wait and see what happens.” Asked whether Israeli settlements would form part of the peace plan, he said: “We will be talking about settlements. The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements.” More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. In excerpts of the interview, Mr Trump said that recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had been a highlight of his first year in office. UK charities warned after Haiti sex claims MINISTERS could cut off funding for Oxfam if it cannot account for the way it handled claims of sexual misconduct by aid workers, the international development secretary has warned. Penny Mordaunt will meet the charity on Monday to hear more about claims staff used prostitutes in Haiti in 2011. She said Oxfam had failed in its “moral leadership” over the “scandal”. Meanwhile, Oxfam has announced new measures for the prevention and handling of sexual abuse cases. Ms Mordaunt told the BBC’s Andrew Marr she had written to other organisations funded by Department for International Development (DfID) urging them to report any safeguarding issues, past or present, and pledged they would all be followed up. Oxfam has faced growing criticism for the way it handled the allegations of misconduct by its staff in Haiti, where they were working in the aftermath of the huge earthquake that devastated they country in 2010. Russian plane crash kills 71 people on board ALL 71 people aboard a Saratov Airlines flight died when the plane crashed southeast of Moscow on Sunday, Russian state news agency Tass reported. Those on board included 65 passengers and six crew members, the Russian news agency Interfax said. Three children — ages 5, 13 and 17 — were among the passengers, state news agency RIA reported. The Antonov-148 aircraft disappeared from the radar shortly after takeoff from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport and crashed soon afterward, Tass reported. It was headed to the Russian city of Orsk, near the border with Kazakhstan. The plane went down in Ramenskoye District, in the Moscow region, the Russian emergency ministry said.. While the cause of the crash remains uncertain, the Investigative Committee of Russia said officials have launched a criminal investigation. Some clues may emerge from a flight data recorder, which was found at the site of the crash, the staterun Sputnik news agency reported. Iran displays missile, says US policy a failure IN a show of defiance of Western pressure to curb its ballistic missile program, Iran put its Ghadr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,240 miles) on display in Tehran’s central Vali-ye Asr street on Sunday. President Hassan Rouhani, addressing flag-waving crowds on central Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square, made no specific reference to Israel’s air strikes in Syria on Saturday which it said were aimed at air defense and Iranian targets. But he told the crowd: “They (U.S. and Israel) wanted to create tension in the region. They wanted to divide Iraq, and Syria. They wanted to create long-term chaos in Lebanon but but with our help their policies failed.” Pakistan human rights champion dies P ROMINENT Pakistani human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir has died at the age of 66. She reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital, where she later died. The pro-democracy activist championed women’s rights throughout her career. She was imprisoned in 1983 and put under house arrest in 2007. Five years ago, leaked documents suggested that some intelligence officers had planned to kill her. Ms Jahangir called for an inquiry at the time, demanding the government “find the forces who wanted to silence” her. More recently she spoke out against BBC Persian journalists being put on trial in Iran, as part of her role as UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi led tributes to Ms Jahangir, saying her Asma Jahangir death was a great loss for the legal fraternity, and praying for her and her family. SOUTH AFRICA: ANC impatient over Zuma’s future AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) leader Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday that the ruling party was holding talks over Jacob Zuma’s position as president of the country and that those talks should be handled with “care and purpose”. He also acknowledged growing impatience over the failure to resolve Zuma’s future. Cyril Ramaphosa said the matter had to be handled with “care and purpose”. “We know you want this matter to be finalised,” he told a crowd marking 100 years since the birth of the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela. Mr Zuma is facing extensive corruption charges after a turbulent nine years in power. The African National Congress (ANC) says the party will hold talks on Monday to resolve President Jacob Zuma’s future. ANC’s governing body is likely to ask Mr Zuma to step down. IOC member suggests joint Korean team for Nobel Peace Prize A senior American member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) called on Sunday for North and South Korea’s joint women’s ice hockey team to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Angela Ruggiero, a four-times ice hockey world champion and Olympic gold medalist, told Reuters she would ask others to nominate the team, which included 12 players from North Korea which is still technically at war with the South. It was the first time an inter-Korean team had competed at an Olympic Games. “I would love the team to get the Nobel Peace Prize,” Ruggiero, a member of the IOC’s executive board said a day after the unified Korean team competed at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Chinese media attack Sweden over bookseller STATE media in China have accused Sweden of a movie-style plot to spirit away detained bookseller Gui Minhai, who has Swedish citizenship. The Hong Kong-based businessman was seized on 20 January while travelling to the Chinese capital, Beijing. On Friday a video interview was released in which he accused Stockholm of “sensationalising” his case. A Chinese tabloid condemned Sweden for trying to “demonstrate its diplomatic heroism by ‘saving the bookseller’”. Mr Gui, who was briefly freed from custody last October, has been in and out of Chinese detention since 2015, when he went missing during a holiday in Thailand. The Global Times, a nationalistic paper, accused Sweden of tricking Mr Gui into a plan designed to free him from Chinese custody. It says the bookseller was banned from leaving the Chinese mainland over allegations he had been involved in “illegal business”. The 53-year-old was arrested while taking a train to Beijing from Ningbo in eastern China, where doctors had said he might have the neurological disorder ALS, a type of motor neurone disease. EGYPT: Army swoops on jihadists in Sinai EGYPT says it has killed 16 Islamist militants in an operation in Sinai in the north-east of the country. Dozens of targets including weapons dumps, motorbikes and cars were also destroyed, a statement from the military says. Four militants and 30 suspects were arrested, it adds. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered the military to defeat Islamists in the region by the end of this month. He gave the order in November after a gun and bomb attack on a mosque killed more than 300 people. Suspicion for that attack fell on an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group in Sinai and Mr Sisi authorised troops to use “all brute force” necessary to restore “security and stability” to the region within three months. Egyptian ground troops, air forces and navy joined with border guards and the police for the operation, dubbed Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018.