23-year-old Uchenna Emelife and his team host intellectual exercises that help students in Sokoto State to read and speak properly.
In a reposted write-up by an academic of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), Dr Mansur Isah Buhari on the institution’s verified Facebook page tagged Uchenna as one of the students impacting their communities positively.
Uchenna is an indigene of Enugwu-Ukwu,Ngikoka Local Government Area, Anambra was born, brought up and currently resides in Sokoto State.
He is the convener of Sokoto Book and Arts Foundation, a reading-promoting charity that hosts the annual Sokoto Book and Arts Festival (SoBAFest). To further promote reading culture and appreciation of poetry, he organised and sponsored poetry slam for secondary schools in the state.
The literature in English student said his mother is a teacher and a trader, while his dad is also a trader. The bookseller and literary curator has already achieved so much in the literary world despite his young age.
Uchenna is the founder of Book O’clock, a literary platform he founded in Sokoto in April 2020 to host a literary blog, a bookstore and book clubs. He is one of the Creative Directors of Sokoto Book and Arts Foundation, an NGO that annually organises the Sokoto Book and Arts Festival, the first and only arts and literary festival in Sokoto.
In May 2022, he got selected for the first International Booksellers Conference hich was organised by Sharjah Book Authority in Sharjah, UAE.
Currently, he curates literary conversations for Africa in Dialogue, Isele Magazine, where he doubles as an Assistant Editor and Book O’clock Review. Among his professional affiliations are: Griots Lounge, Praxis Magazine, TEDxArkilla, Pen Press UDUS, et.c.
When asked by a media how he manages security issue in the state, he said, “I think Sokoto has been relatively peaceful for many years now, until very recently, and even now, it is the villages at the outskirts of the States that sadly take all of the heat. So, none of our projects have been affected by insecurity, except for guests whom we invite from elsewhere and they don’t show up maybe because they’ve a similar notion of the north. When such happens, we organise a virtual engagement with them and host them to it.”
On ethnic concerns, he said, “I have met individuals in Sokoto who are very supportive and I’ve built very beautiful relationships with them irrespective of the difference in religion and tribe.
“At the same time, I have also met others who are so hostile to my ideas because I’m not Hausa. So how do I cope? By respecting everyone and treating them individually, rather than a group. So if there is a poor reception from Alhaji, I take my L and move on to Mallam.
“I think as a society, stereotyping would go down the drain if we began to treat people on an individual basis rather than as a whole people. ”
When asked about his future plan for the students of the state, he disclosed that he would be more intentional about his works as soon as he graduates from the university. According to him, “Oh yes, there are. I want to be more intentional about my work as soon as I’m done with my undergraduate program, so there is so much expansion on the way and has even started.
“My team and I are currently making plans for the second edition of the Sokoto Book and Arts Festival which promises to be bigger and better. Sokoto remains the heart of all of these, so irrespective of our physical presence, our goal to turn Sokoto into a citadel of arts continues to run.”