It was a confluence of interesting voices as the 9 Writers Book Tour took off in Lagos on Saturday. I got to the venue rather late (don't blame me, a multitude of factors). However, every minute spent there would be cherished for a long time.
It was a great opportunity to see, listen to and learn from seven Nigerian writers (they were supposed to be nine but...) at their best: Odia Ofeimun (poet and writer), Toni Kan (writer who also works in the telecoms), Eghosa Imasuen (writer and doctor), Bimbo Adelakun (writer and journalist), Joy Isi-Bewaji (writer and editor), Igoni Barrett (writer and editor) and Jumoke Verrissimo (writer, journalist and copy-writer). I deliberately put other things they do asides creative writing beside their names to foreground Odia's words: 'a writer, well a Nigerian writer has to be a writer and one or two other things...lest (s)he starves' (emphasis mine). Most writers are other things during the day and writers at night.
It was indeed a festival of words in a very free environment. If you've not been to the African Artists Foundation on Henry Njoku, it would be difficult to understand me. Most of the questions gave the audience sneak peeks into their lives as writers: challenges, successes, ambitions, and the big one 'how their ethnicity affects their works', etc. The audience was very warm and books were available for purchase and autographed after the event. There was a particularly interesting question since everyone does adult fiction: who is writing for children? Very few people: this shows that market has not been fully tapped. So, if you are a budding writer and you think you can write for children, your field is there, wide and fertile!
One lesson that I took with me and would like to share is that writing as well as every other profession is an interesting one and presents its unique challenges. And the sooner writers begin to see themselves as professionals by working hard at the skill; the better they become; the easier people recognise them and takes them serious.
And who says Nigerians don't read? Who says the world of arts is not alive? Well, attend one or two art events and your opinion will change. Maybe slightly but it will.
From the pictures:
1) Poet, Odia Ofeimun reading from his collection of poems.
2) The woman behind the conversations in Lagos, Jow Bewaji, author of Eko Dialogue.
3) Eghosa Imasuen, author of To Saint Patrick is a writer trapped between cultures. Pidgin English is the only Nigerian language he speaks.
PS. I tried to bring down that 'it' standing aloof, but it wouldn't budge so I let it be...