The Vice-Chancellor, University of Africa Toru-Orua (UAT), Bayelsa State, has commended the leadership of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) for its penchant for excellence, like every other Academy in the world, and making a right choice in its new Fellows like Professor Godwin Godini Darah (popularly called, Prof. GG Darah).
Professor Nyamapfene, who gave the commendation on Wednesday, 8th June, 2022, at a special Faculty Board Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Education of the University, said Prof. Darah’s call into the College of Fellows of NAL is well-deserved, especially with his deep knowledge of the South African people, places, politics and literature in his repertoire, added to his great contributions to University of Africa Toru-Orua (UAT), both as a Contract as well as Visiting Professor.
In his congratulatory message, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma (BFA), stated that there was no one in the literary cycle, print journalism and Niger Delta politics that would not have come across Prof GG Darah; and thanked the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) for looking the way of the Niger Delta to award the literary giant, who has left his footprints in the sands of time in African literature.
On his part, while congratulating the former Editorof The Guardian Nigeria Newspaper, the Registrar of the University, Dr. Akpoebi Adesi, recounted his knowledge of the recipient from his own days in the University of Ibadan, both as an undergraduate, postgraduate, and in the UI Alumni Association days, maintaining that the name of GG Darah echoed and re-echoed in the literary cycles, especially in the area of Oral Literature; and observed that if there was anyone who had made popular the works of the Late JP Clark across the globe, it was Prof Darah.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Education, Professor ‘Demola Jolayemi, explained that Pa GG Darah, as a foundation academic of the Faculty, was the first Professor of Literature in English of the Department of English and Literary Studies, and that he is the academic mentor of the Faculty since inception in 2017; adding that the positive role Prof Darah played in the December 2021 NUC Accreditation of UAT programmes contributed invaluably to the high performance of the Department of English and Literary Studies.
In his response, the recipient of the NAL Fellowship, Prof. GG Darah, thanked everyone for what he described as, “a coup,” informing that his role in the 70s as a leader and advocate for the Southern African liberation struggle earned him and his colleagues the appellation, “Comrade.”
According to him, coincidentally, the VC-UAT, Prof. Kingston Nyamapfene, was also involved in similar movements in South Africa at the same time; hence, they became “Comrades” when they both had a discussion around the topic when they first met in UAT.
Prof. Darah took the Faculty Board on a historical journey to the formation of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and mentioned Emeritus Professor Ayo Bamgbose of the Department of Linguistics and later Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo of the Department of English, all of University of Ibadan; Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Chinua Achebe, Prof. J.P. Clark, and Emeritus Prof Ebiegberi J. Alagoa, as earliest recipients of the NAL Fellowship.
He also used the opportunity to counsel members of the Faculty Board of Studies to contribute tirelessly to their professional and academic associations, saying that though it may be torturous, it is absolutely rewarding as exemplified in the joy, which they just shared with him. It would be recalled that Wednesday, 1st June, 2022, the President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL), Professor Duro Oni and the Secretary, Professor Ayo Kehinde, announced seven recipients of the 2022 Fellowship Award, which included Prof. GG Darah.