Saturday 20 April 2024

Hearty Cheers to Nduka Otiono @sixty.

By Joy Osiagwu

Prof Otiono welcomes the guests Photo credit: Sarah Onyango
Birthday cake plus Otiono family:-L-R Daughter Dr Kika Otiono, Prof Nduka Otiono and Mrs. Onyisi Otiono

Call it a massive show of support for Prof. Nduka Otiono, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University, and you would not be wrong. 

Anioma Culture, displayed at the entrance of the venue. Photo credit: Akintunde Akinleye.

Otiono, a writer and co-editor of eight creative writing and academic research books, spectacularly celebrated his Diamond Jubilee with the launch of two new books: “Critical Perspectives on Nduka Otiono”, written on his works by 19 scholars, and “Unbound – An Anthology of new Nigerian Poets Under 40”, edited by Professor Otiono and Chibueze Darlington Anuonye.

Kingsely & Mrs. Ekeke left, R: Unidentified guests
Dona Nnorom, left, with BOS Editor Godwin Ifedi, second right, and unnamed guests

The beautiful evening at the Jim Durrell Recreation Centre in Ottawa on Saturday, April 20, drew diverse guests, including associates, friends, and family members from the Academia across North America and Nigeria. Carleton University registered its presence to support one of its own with an opening remark from Dr. Pauline Rankin, the Provost and Vice President of academics. Then, the Interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), Dr. Anne Bowker, unveiled the book. Copies on display sold out halfway through the event, affirming the quality of Otiono’s prowess in Cultural Studies and Literature in Africa, Postcolonial Studies, Media and Communication Studies, Globalization, and Popular Culture.

A handshake with Dr. Pauline Rankin, Provost, and Vice President of academics after her remarks and, interim Dean of FASS, Dr. Anee Bowker unveiling the book. Photo credit: Akintunde Akinleye.

A constructive brief review of the book, “Critical Perspectives on Nduka Otiono” by Dr. Isaac Asume Osuoka, Coordinator of Social Action International, set the tone for the delightful evening, followed by a short video documentary of the celebrant.

Book reviewer, Dr. Isaac Asume Osuoka, Coordinator of Social Action International Photo credit: Akintunde Akinleye

An inspirational poetry recital by Nduka and his wife, Onyisi Otiono, with xylophone accompaniment from renowned Ottawa household drummer, Eric Sarah, added glamour to the evening. The poem had a flavor of Aniocha culture (Otiono’s origin in Delta State, Nigeria), evoking nostalgic memories of home for Anioma indigenes who graced the occasion.

Poetry recital by Dr. Nduka and his wife, Onyisi Otiono

However, the event’s climax was the beautiful recollection of Nduka’s life in an inspirational tribute by his first cousin and family representative, Dr. Ikem Okolo, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Gastroenterology at Virginia Tech School of Medicine, USA, and an inspiration to Dr. Kika Otiono, Nduka’s brilliant daughter, currently a surgical resident at University of Ottawa’s Division of Urology.

Dr. Kika & Dr. Ikem Okolo (left) Dr. Okolo, (middle) Prof. Otiono & Dr Okolo (right) in a warm embrace.

 The delectable, Sarah Onyango and Chinedu Mba coordinated the program with excellent ambiance and banter from members of the African, Nigerian, Igbo, and Anioma communities. Given the lovely spring weather after the Canadian winter, friends reconnected at the event while savoring the African delicacies for dinner.

MC Sarah Onyango, left, with Prof Otiono Photo credit: Sarah Onyango
Traditional drummer Eric Sara entertains the guests Photo credit: Sarah Onyango

Left: Dr. Clara Irobi & Nelson Irobi Right: Ike Nnebe with Mrs. Ogo Nnebe

L-R: Nze Geoff Ejiofor, Mrs. Nneka Ejiofor, Mrs. Ofili and Kenneth Osiagwu
L-R: Elder Mike Adibe with daughters Franka and Anthonia (top), Apostle Cornelius Babalola & wife Ansa (bottom left) with other guests (bottom right)

Left: Unnamed guest Right: Emmanuella Evi-Parker with Ijeoma Ukazu

Top L-R: Geof &Mrs. Ngozi Ebere, Ade and Folake Gerber. Bottom right: Tony & Mrs. Onwuachi
A happy Otiono family poses with close friends

Nduka Otiono is a veteran journalist and a Fellow of the William Joiner Centre for War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts.

Click the link to watch a short video of the party’s highlights.