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By CrossRiverWatch Admin

I live in Calabar, and as opposed to the one sided myth of a writers sad life, I am a happy child.

At eleven I started trying out writing and public speaking, I remember the joy and motivation I felt when a local church used my tender words in their harvest magazine, at 15, I had graduated from being class captain to school regulator to senior prefect (no pride intended). That was the age I would like to consider the age of discovering leadership.

Today, I am twenty something, a reader, a writer and a learner in need of a library, growth and expansion.

I exist in a city that has little regards for, literature, art and idea generation, the only form of art rewarded is thuggery, beauty pageantries and most times noise making.

Don’t misunderstand my roots, I support creativity, any form at all because creativity transcribes feelings, truth, culture and knowledge into action. Of course good actions grow a society.

I am relentless and restless, for a fact, I like to write, take night after night to build ideas and emotions that grow into a landscape of lost pages.

I want the decibels of my voice to hit the far ends of the world, through the prints of my ink and the echo from my microphone, after all of these I want the accolades.

My accolades could be the smiles on the thousands of people I reach with any form of art I practice, my accolades could be affording a good and decent life for myself, it could be mentoring and open doors to greater competitive opportunities to gain more accolades.

I tried my hands in unionism/politics, maybe to continue what befell me at 15 or to build a bridge connecting what I see with what I hoped to be or to enhance the leadership qualities I am told I posses.

Boom in my face, first attempt, I became my department’s 1st female president, boom again, I became the vice president of all Cross River State students home and abroad (thank you), Alas! I stood before the world with a title, a dream and no structure to sharpen the ideas I had garnered through the years, no structures to support the blue print of my dreams

Then I slid back, I had to privatize my life and go back to my pen, pencil and already dented sheet, waiting for my parents to be my fans, to criticize my work, appreciate it with extra pocket money.

Sometimes I left it on social networks for scrutiny and allowed a base of approximately 4000 people to be entertained.

But, What If?

What if my city gave me more?

Trained me more?

What if my city had standard libraries where I could also find the most recent African literatures?

What if my library was not just an under-stocked archive of priced antiques with broken windows and unfriendly faces standing on one knee?

What if the library was a place I longed to be in everyday?

What if they was a contest, just like the numerous beauty pageantries but this time, Writers, Artists, Public speakers contested for something as low as a scholarship?

What if they was a reality show, yes in Cross River State where young people converged and brought out this mind blowing ideas I hear murmured around?

What if they was a structure that rewarded people who are not facially pretty and cannot stand the heat of a pageantry but have pretty hearts and foundations where they reach out to a thousand unreached people?

What if they were institutions that equipped young leaders and developed their political orientation?

We do not have structures that put us out to the world as the best so the Cross River child/youth will continuously be seen to the world as lazy, untalented and uninspired, as one who ties a cloak around his waist with a matching piece over his neck and waits for the Ekpe season to arrive so he drinks the almost empty bottle of Shekpe and runs after politicians for his next meal ticket.

We do not have structures anyone and anybody looks back on and points back as her roots.

We need a system, a functional system that brings young minds of writers, readers, artists and other underappreciated talents to grow. We need to put our state out there.

We cannot do it if the only contest a Cross River born journalist, writer and singer files in for is a national affair where tribalism will prevail anyway?

If we do not appreciate our own, precedents teaches that charity doesn’t begin from abroad.

Bright ideas, leadership potentials, good books, public speakers will only be watered with the right motivation and mentoring.

Cars and cash prices will continually revolve in the hands of beauty queens and social media talkers and our young brothers and sisters will grow up to think the only structure that rewards, mentors and appreciate is a beauty pageantry.

Growth is paramount, it comes from motivation, rewards, mentoring and provisions of standard amenities such as a library.

So here I am – A University undergraduate – at twenty something – reading and writing at the peace of a one storied building construction of the state library for 3 years in a city without love for literature and my type of art.

I should say we need to mend our fallen institutions but regrettably, they never was any, so we need to build this institutions.

Ukung Alawa is also a CrossRiverWatch reporter and writes from Calabar.

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