After kick-starting 2012 with the exciting February and March editions of the Abuja Writers Forum (AWF) Guest Writer Session with Uche Ezechukwu, Steve Okeocha, Theresa Ameh and K K Iloduba, the much- acclaimed monthly event now in its fourth year brings more literary thrills with the Lagos-based award-winning journalist, gender activist and poetess,
Betty Abah on April 28. The event which has now relocated to Hamdala Plaza on Jimmy Carter Street, Asokoro, Abuja from its previous Pen and Pages Bookshop base, will also feature interludes with the University of Uyo-trained painter Millicent Osumuo, the singer-cum-saxaphonist Lorriane Panam, and the budding short story writer Lami Yakubu. Author of two poetry collections – Sound of Broken Chains and Go Tell Our King – Betty Abah began writing even before she became a teenager. It is no surprise that writing has become very much a part of her life, including six active years of journalism. Sound of Broken Chains is a collection of devotional poems with the writer drawing attention to the fact that whatever chains tie us down as individuals, families and at national level, if we are determined, we can break the chains and be liberated.
In her own words, “It may not necessarily be spiritual chains; it can be social or psychological chains.” The poems in her latest work, Go Tell Our King draw from her involvement with the media, women’s rights, political advocacy and her indigenous Idoma locale.
Abah who hails from the Idoma speaking part of Benue State, obtained a degree in English and Literary Studies from the University of Calabar in 1999. Her passion for writing budded early in life for while in school, she wrote for various campus publications and served as literary editor of Quill, the departmental magazine, was deputy editor of Malabor Watch, a publication of the Student Union Government university and served as pioneer chairperson of the university branch of the National Association of Campus Women Journalists (NACWOJ).
During the compulsory National Youth Service (NYSC), she served as press club coordinator and production editor of the maiden edition of the Regalite magazine of Regal College, Sagamu, Ogun State, part of whose activities earned me the NYSC’s “State Honours Award’
Abah worked as a journalist for Nigerian publications including the influential TELL and NEWSWATCH Magazines, and was a recipient of numerous professional fellowships including the Nigeria Media Merit Award, the Diamond Award for Media Excellence, the American Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship (AFPF) and the Knight Public Health Journalism Fellowships.
The AFPF saw her reporting at the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado for five months in 2006 and undergoing several journalism trainings in the USA and Canada. In the course of the fellowship, Abah received two other fellowships-the John Knight Health Reporting Fellowship (which saw her undergoing training on health reporting at the Centre for Dis-eases Control and Prevention (CDC), in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., and the Kaiser Family Foundation Fellowship, which entailed health training at the Canadian Broadcasting
Cooperation (CBC), Toronto and reporting the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada.In July 2010, Abah was among young tobacco control activists selected from across the world for the Global Tobacco Leadership Training at the Johns Hop-kins University in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. After she got the fellowship, Abah focused on health journalism.
Her writing and development activities have won her several awards including Poet of the Year (1995) by her department at the university, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) State Honour’s Award (Ogun State) 2001, Travel/Tourism Reporter of the Year Award by the Nigeria Media Merit Awards (NMMA) 2003 and UNICEF-sponsored “Child Friendly Journalist” by the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME), 2008, among others.
Since its inception four years ago, the Guest Writer Session has been a consistent feature of the nation’s literary scene. The April 28, 2012 edition which starts at 4pm, will include the usual side attractions of poetry performance, mini art exhibition, and a raffle-draw as well as live music. The Abuja Writer’s Forum meets three Sundays each month and hosts a reading on every last Saturday of the month.