A group photo taken after COAL’S event
In a time when much sensitivity has been attached to gender, the unveiling of this organization was met with both interest and suspicion. The organization “COAL” as it is popularly known is made up of an all-female team of ambassadors. These ambassadors who are eight in number have individual areas of expertise within the genres of literature. They consist of; five poets, one essayist and two creative non-fiction writers. The Poets include; Andrew Patience who is also the Founder and President, Attah Patience, Dafwat Jennifer, and Kristen Haruna. Others are; Daisy Odey (essayist), Lola Onigbinde and Farida Adamu (creative fictionists). These eight ladies are between the ages of 19 – 25.
The custodians of African literature is a literary inclined outfit whose aim is to promote Education, African literature and build up values by using Poetry, Spoken Word, and short stories as tools. The organization’s focus are the youths whom it hopes to encourage to be more involved in building up a more creative, intelligent and proactive Nigeria and Africa through literature.
The core values of the organization are Love, Truth, Creativity, Dexterity and Service. “These are the cords that hold us together” says Lola Onigbinde “by constantly upholding these values we are certain to birth a love for literature in the hearts of many people”.
Programs such as open mic sessions, Poetry readings and creative writing workshops have already been organized with each having a great response from the public. Though Andrew patience speaking on behalf of the group agreed COAL was still a long way from achieving its true mission.
The most recent project embarked on by the group is the setting up of street libraries within their home state, Plateau state. “Charity begins here” says Jennifer Dafwat “And we must play our part. As we encourage the youths to read we want to provide them with the books and an environment they can read in”. They are currently collecting book donations towards the actualization of this goal.
When asked the greatest challenge of being an all-woman group the answer was as suspected their being seen as a feminist movement. “Few people accept that it is possible for women to gather for good without an underlying intention of promoting feminism” But from all indications this has only challenged the ambassadors further to achieve the core goal of the organization which is to Preserve African literature as an art.
Their key advice to young writers is to “keep writing, no good writer was made in a day, the only thing a writer should do more than write is read. Not only writers need to read, you are only as good as what you know and the treasure box of knowledge are books.”
The organization can be reached via their Facebook page “Custodians of literature” or by mail using email@example.com. They also have an active blog where readers can go to read both their work and works by other writers who are featured weekly at www.coalng.blogspot.com, or call 08069166912, 07066590988 or 08068995644.