David Diai

The cosmopolitan, oil industry cities of Port Harcourt and Bonny, basked in the glow of a sumptuous literary fiesta, in the third week of November 2019, when award winning Nigerian author, screen writer, actor, poet, playwright and producer, Jude Idada, came to town bearing good tidings, as he embarked on an engaging reading tour of his excellent prize winning book Boom Boom, thrilling a cross section of the literary community including teenage school kids in the two cities.

Jude Idada is winner of the NLNG Nigerian Prize for Literature, 2019, in the Children’s Literature category and in keeping with its pragmatic tradition of promoting the prize winning works of the foremost and most prestigious Literary Competition in the country, as well as presenting its award winners to the larger reading public for greater exposure, the Nigeria Liquiefied Natural Gas Company, brought Jude and Boom Boom, to meet, greet and interact with the literary community in the home state of the NLNG.

The Port Harcourt event took place on Friday November 22, and the Atlantic Hall of Presidential Hotel, which was venue for the event, throbbed with expectation and excitement as Jude Idada, reading excerpts from his award winning book, Boom Boom, thrilled his captivated audience, like the master craftsman he is, who has honed and mastered the complete art of stagecraft, with the finer attributes of tone modulation, impeccable eloquence and oratory and the smoothness of a flawless, uncluttered delivery.

Intriguingly, the session was not just about the book alone. Campaigns were waged and concepts clarified, as the author engaged his audience in an honest, expository and highly instructive interaction on the central theme of the book; Sickle Cell Anaemia, at the end of which hitherto held perceptions and superstitions were visibly and positively redefined and new nomenclatures embraced.

The event, which was attended by students from various private and public secondary schools in Port Harcourt, as well as an impressive gathering of the membership of literary societies and others in the garden city, eventually turned to be a forum for campaign not just to prevent situations that can lead to sickle cell anaemia, but on how to manage, accommodate and relate with person living with the condition.

Speaking on his motivation to tackle such a poignant and quite emotional theme, Jude, who spiced his narrative with deeply touching and sometimes hilarious anecdotes of friends and family who have had brushes with Sickle cell in the past, confessed that he actually wrote the book to raise awareness on the danger of sickle cell, especially in Nigeria, which according to some fact-checked statistics, is one of the most endemic areas for the attack and also bring to light the heroic and psychological battles which persons with sickle cell, whom he described proudly as ‘Warriors,’ were going through on a daily basis, as they embraced each new day with hope, uncertainty and a hovering foreboding in the fight to stay alive.

Informing his audience that 40% of Nigerians have the AS genotype and that any marriage by two AS carriers, would always produce an SS, the dominant sickle- cell- causing cells, Jude Idada said he targeted the youths because it is better to train their minds on the condition and its consequences, so that they will not fall in love with and marry someone whose genotype does not match with theirs when they attain the ages of settling down and raising families.

Noting that he started writing at age 4 and wrote his first book at 8, Jude told the students in the audience, that their road to greatness lay in reading and writing, even as he admonished them not only to take their studies seriously in order to make their parents proud and justify the efforts and resources committed towards giving them proper education, but also to ensure that they make the issue of compatible genotypes a priority when they are ready to choose their life partners, so they can also bear and raise children without the daily fear and dread that comes with nurturing sickle cell ‘warriors’ in future.

In a message to the programme, General Manager, External relations, Eyono Fatayi-Williams said: “Nigeria LNG has inspired the production of over four hundred children’s literature, since 2004 when it instituted the Nigeria Prize for Literature.

“The Literature prize which celebrates works on Poetry, Prose Drama and Children’s Literature in a four year cycle around the four genres, as at our last count, boasts of over 1,890 submissions in the past 15 years.

“Nigeria LNG, is a significant contributor towards promoting literacy, as well written literatures with good stories that can win our Literature Prize, and has the power to attract people to read, thereby improving our literacy”

The Manager, Communication and Public Affairs, Dr Sophia Horsfall said the occasion was, “for us to show how we value literature and how we value children, the future leaders of this country.”

She thanked Jude Idada for finding time to be in Port Harcourt and also commended the students for comporting themselves well.

The Head, Brands and Events, Yemi Adeyemi announced donation of 10 copies each of Boom Boom by Nigeria LNG Limited to libraries of the participating schools to grant more people access to such a top quality book.

Highlights of the hugely successful literary event in Port Harcourt, which had in attendance, members of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA River State chapter, led by its chairman, Uzor Nwamara and veteran playwright and former ANA Rivers Chairman, Miesoenuma Minima, as well as the Coordinator of the Port Harcourt Literary Society and award winning Poet, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi, amongst others, included group photographs with the schools and groups present and a special autograph signing session of the award winning book Boom Boom, by the author, Jude Idada.


Jude Idada was also in Bonny, the home of the NLNG, where he equally thrilled the pristine riverine literary community with flawless delivery and electrified the impressive gathering, amongst whom were children from various secondary schools on the Island, who had turned up to witness the reading of the award winning book, Boom Boom, with his bubbling, energetic presence. It was indeed excitement galore all through.

The venue was Ibanise Hall in Bonny and the event started with a message sent by the General Manager, External Relations, Eyono Fatayi-Williams.

In the message presented by Head of Public Affairs, Yemi Adeyemi, Eyono said over 400 children’s books have been submitted for the prize since inception, even as she emphasized that NLNG is committed to improving reading and literacy in Nigeria.

Each of the participating schools further received 10 books for their library to enable more people have access to the books.

When Jude Idada took the stage, the students almost went into excited frenzy. He talked about literature. He talked sickle cell. He talked about the excellent award winning book, Boom Boom.

Reading chapter three of the book Boom Boom, was a great delight to the kids. The story and theme of the book is all about sickle cell anaemia.

He warned those that their genotype cannot match not to marry. If they must, let them not bear children that would eventually suffer and put themselves, their friends and families through the torture and trauma of serving each day with hope fear and foreboding.

Nigeria, he told them again, has the highest rate of 40% of population living with sickle cell anaemia. He wrote this book Boom Boom, not necessarily to win the prize but to fight the disease. And he ended up winning, he said with a twinkling chuckle.

The response was spontaneous. Some of the students instantly resolved to become writers to which the affable and ebbulient Jude Idada admonished that they have to start now by reading for fun, amongst other nuggets and important tips of learning and scholarship, he offered the young ones.

Source report from: The Nigerian Prize For Literature Facebook page