Celebration Time is Here 7 But it is not yet Uhuru: Some Challenges Ahead
Thelma Y. Obah
College ofSt. Catherine, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

It is a great privilege and honour tom be invited to share in the joy of this moment and I join all of you in congratulating the executives and membership of the Reading Association of Nigeria (RAN) on the attainment of its Silver Jubilee —25 years of dedicated service to our community and nation.As I arrived the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar, I recalled a story that I first heard years ago in this state. A researcher, someone said, visited from abroad to carryout an empirical investigation of some significance to him. He heard that Nigerians answered questions with questions and he wanted to verify this proposition. Approaching the first three people that he met, he asked, “Is it true that Nigerians answer questions with questions?”Without pausing to take a breath, they answered in unison, “Who told you that” Where di you hear that” How would I know?” Case closed!I don’t know about you but, as a Niger—wife, who has lived and worked in Nigeria for more than twenty years, I do find myself answering questions with questions And so, when I asked myself the question, what shall I speak about? I came up with another question: “How can we evaluate that past and move forward with hope?” Noting the theme of the conference is Literacy Structures for Educational Advancement and Manpower Development, my topic: Celebration Time is Here — But it is not yet Uhuru: Some Challenges Ahead. [Uhuru, is the Swahili word for ‘freedom or the promised Land’; the lgbos call it “agugu” but I am sure there is an equivalent word for this concept in all our different languages.

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