By Joe Iniodu
Ati Annang, a foremost socio-cultural organization with origin in Akwa Ibom State is 25. It is its Silver Jubilee. Silver Jubilee, of course, is the 25th anniversary of an important event like in the instance of the milestone Ati Annang has weathered and breasted. Born as Annang Youth Movement on February 23, 1994 in a dingy room in Port Harcourt, Ati Annang has metamorphosed into a big global brand with branches in countries like United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia etc. with mammoth membership in those countries. In Nigeria, Ati Annang, which was initially localized in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, has metastasized its presence in many States of the federation, turning the group into a household name.
Ati Annang via its origin is a study in faith and commitment to a cause. When Ati Annang was conceived, none of the progenitors is said to have been a man of superfluous means. They were all struggling people and they were young. But they had a shared vision, a dream they fought to push beyond the realm of mirage. Engrossed with passion, they held on to the dream with fidelity. They weathered odds, made sacrifices, suffered discomfort and sacrificed enormously to keep the group afloat. Today, Ati Annang has ballooned into a giant and no one can remember those teething times. Ati Annang is a testament of the scriptural admonition that we should not despise the days of little beginning. One can wager a bet that those who shared that little room in Port Harcourt to nurture and sire the group that morphed into Ati Annang are often jolted by the size and ebullience that today define the organization.
The pride of any man is in his heritage. Heritage embodies the traditions, achievements, beliefs all of which are part of the history of a people. It is through heritage that we have identity and man is known by identity. Ati Annang was therefore conceived with the collective aim of defining, articulating and implementing the goals and ideals of Annang as an ethnic group. It was to also use the platform as an ethnic group to promote love, justice and progress of its members and community while encouraging the preservation of Annang history, language and culture. Within the context of the aforestated vision, how has Ati Annang faired? Has the group done enough to merit the ostentatious celebration like the weeklong Silver Jubilee which celebration commences today, August 10, 2019 to finish on August 18, 2019? The unequivocal answer is, yes. Ati Annang has not only attained its vision, met its objectives, given Annang a pride of place, it has been a success story, standing shoulder to shoulder with other major socio-cultural organisations in the State, nay the country.
Ati Annang has held many celebrations since its inception but none has happened without a remarkable development, at least in the past more than one decade. The body has undertaken interventions in many sectors including education, health, sports and even infrastructure especially in schools where the deficit is seen to be significantly acute. The group has extended scholarship to many, especially indigent Annang sons and daughters, who manifest undying interest in education. Today, Ati Annang can boast of secondary schools’ students and post tertiary institution people who were beneficiaries of the organisation’s scholarship scheme. There are also still a tribe of people currently in schools enjoying Ati Annang scholarship. Indeed, Ati Annang is one organisation that has refused to exist in a vacuum. It has tethered its existence to the society by identifying its concerns and prospecting for solutions for them.
The Silver Jubilee of Ati Annang can be described as a worthy journey deserving of celebration. The scorecard of the group so far is enviable. With renewed commitment and the quality of innovations introduced into the Silver Jubilee anniversary, Ati Annang is still safely in the hands of good managers whose thinking caps are still fecund and fertile. The programme of events for the Silver Jubilee bespeaks in clear terms the depth of the imagination of the planners. Even though the events begin on August 10, 2019 with a prolonged duration of one week, there are some major highlights which distinguish this particular anniversary from others. Some of such include the presentation of the Annang Language Development Presentation, Anniversary Lecture and Exhibition of Annang Arts, scheduled for Wednesday, August 14, 2019 at Ati Annang Secretariat at Ikot Ekpene.
The beginning of real progress for any language group is the development of the orthography of that language. If Ati Annang has succeeded in sponsoring the development of this momentous milestone, then it has written its name in gold in the annals of Annang history. Saturday, August 17 would also be momentous in the wake of the weeklong celebration of the Ati Annang Silver Jubilee. The day which is aptly tagged as the grand finale would witness awards to 50 deserving Annang sons and daughters and inauguration and induction into the Annang Hall of Fame. This particular event is expected to boost the social service orientation and redirect public consciousness to the reality that the Annang cultural value recognises and honours those who do them proud. Serving as a maiden edition, it is to be instituted as an annual event. Of course, the usual scholarship awards, back packs to primary school children and screening for high blood and diabetes would also be on hand. Ati Annang has made its existence meaningful. It has become a platform not only for the protection of Annang but for meeting the needs of the people, building bridges of love and fostering unity across the State. It is why the group is enjoying a consistent rise through its exceptional service delivery to the people.
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst