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Bisi Fayemi Pays Tribute To Late Toni Morrison At Quintessence Awards/Conference


The First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, was on Saturday, September 28, present at  the African Writers Endowment [AWE] Inc. event where her husband, Governor Kayode Fayemi was honored with the 2019 Quintessence Award.

The recognition was bestowed on Governor Fayemi by the African Writers Endowment for “Distinguished accomplishments as a Public Administrator, and for outstanding contributions to the history and heritage of African peoples.”

Hours prior to the arrival of Governor Fayemi at the event, though, his wife held court at the conference with a thrilling and loving tribute to the late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison.

Morrison had passed away in August of this year.

In the tribute titled “The true revolutionary: Toni Morrison (1931-2019),” Mrs. Fayemi spoke about the impact of Morrison and her written works in the lives of women and in the quest to make the world a better, more humane place for all of God’s children.

She was joined on the panel by Dr. Abdul Salau, a professor African studies, who also paid tribute to Morrison.

Erelu Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi speaking at the African Writers Endowment 2019 Quintessence Award

A feminist scholar and activist, social entrepreneur, policy advocate and writer of note, Mrs. Fayemi started her presentation with a discussion of how her father, at a very early age, encouraged her to write essays for him.

“It did not matter what I wrote about; he just wanted me to write and submit to him,” she said. This was how she developed a love for writing. She then discussed her books, which included Loud whispers; I speak for myself; and Speaking above a whisper.

In her tribute, Fayemi said to the departed Morrison: “You spoke to us so many times in hundreds of ways. Words that warmed our souls and sometimes chilled our bones.

“Your voice was always clear and true. Even when many doubted its depth and misunderstood its meaning.

“Year after year your piercing gaze missed nothing. And you slowly but surely peeled away the arrogance of dominance. Replacing it with a simple truth – the right to be.”

While Morrison admonished us to fly, Mrs. Fayemi lamented that “there is so much s..t, so flying is not an option right now. Perhaps we can settle for crawling while we clean up the s..t bit by bit.”

The First Lady of Ekiti State ended her tribute by stating: “As you surrender to the air and fly with it; thank you for leaving us with these clues to wisdom. Rest in peace dear Sister Toni. Please give our love to Maya Angelou.”

Erelu Bisi Fayemi promised to make sure that Toni Morrison’s works and the works of all the great African writers, are made available in libraries across Ekiti State.

See the rest of the tribute that garnered her a standing ovation at the conference at Abovewhispers.

Scores of people line up for Erelu’s autograph

People lining up for Erelu’s autograph

Following her tribute to Toni Morrison, Mrs. Fayemi was visited with a long line of conferees who wanted her to autograph copies of her books.

All the copies that were shipped in from Nigeria sold out in 10 minutes after her presentation, as a line of people that meandered through the hall and hallway participated in the 55-minute book signing until the last person on the line received an autograph.

“In these times where folks are not keen on reading, it was great and refreshing to see so many people buy her books and line up for so long to get her autograph,” said Dr. Ugorji Okechukwu Ugorji, Executive Director of the African Writers Endowment.

“We thoroughly enjoyed her presentation and we appreciate her presence at the conference,” Ugorji reacted.

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