Wordsmiths in Nigeria: Relics of a lost age? by Chika Nwakama

Art is life. Life’s art. Writing is an art, it could also be a life. What else captures the details of the past, intertwining it with the occurrence of the present, yet plodding the way for the future but writing. With just a few words, your imagination travels between time and space, thus making geographic demarcations of boundaries look seamless. The secrets of life are kept afresh and handed down to subsequent generations through writing. So why aren’t the wordsmiths leaving up to their billing?

Arts in Nigeria has gained a lot of momentum lately. The actors, musicians, painters, even photographers and make-up artistes are gaining prominence and recognition in our society. The fashion industry riding on the success of the entertainment industry is recording quantum strides. All, but the writers. How could this be, that the queen and bride of all creative manifestations be relegated to levels befitting of paupers? The beholders of the secrets that lay in the lairs of the deep are fast drifting into oblivion. Some say writers can’t survive in our society. Many others say Nigerians don’t read. Indigenous literature it seems lose their footing to foreign ones. The average girl would hastily grab a Sidney Sheldon over a Lara Daniels. The Dibias would only receive accolades but we stock up our libraries with Grishams.

However, lest we rush ourselves into hasty conclusions, based on the obvious, let us remind ourselves that our counterparts in the sister arts equally faced this clog. But unlike us, they did not hurl accusations. Like them, we need to take action. We need to start appreciating indigenous wordsmiths. We hear there is a dearth of good writers in the country. This is a farce. Ever year, my compatriots receive accolades globally. It is up to the writers to test the waters and create the butterfly effect that would enable a literary environment flourish in our country. The works of Pulp Faction book club, Naijastories, Nigerian Writers forum and Debonair Bookstores are appreciated but a lot still needs to be done. Reading competitions have to be inculcated in our primary schools. Book clubs and literary groups with emphasis on local content have to be re-introduced in our secondary schools. Arts festivals and book carnivals have to be taken to the national level. We have the capacity to host art events that would rival the pedigree of the hay festival.

Only then would the publishers, corporate world and film makers come to share in the slice of the cake. The onus is on us as writers to partake in defining a new Nigeria for our youths. Where intellectualism thrives over ignorance and sentiments. Where jingoistic views would be overtaken by enlightenment. Though it is not an easy task, nor one with immediate visible results, the fruits of such venture have generational implications. He who plants a seed today leaves a shade for the next generation. In this plethora of misguided conceptions and ideologies, what seed are we planting that would provide shades for the future one? How do we preserve our fast depleting culture , if not through writings.

Do we want our children to hear of our stories from the lips of foreigners? Let us stimulate the taste buds of indigenous literature and keep them salivating for more. More importantly for our sakes. The only way to attain immortality is through writing. A writer never dies, he merely lives in another form. Through his writings.

 

First Published on Naija Stories

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3 thoughts on “Wordsmiths in Nigeria: Relics of a lost age? by Chika Nwakama

  1. This is a global pandemic, sadly enough, to the point where in some countries a degree in English is classified as the most useless degree to obtain from university – a point I find absolutely ridiculous. As someone who already has a degree in Mathematical Sciences as well, I don’t see the advantage in classifying degrees in order of use. People forget that we need to chase our own dreams no matter what. The only thing I have taken from that degree is my analytical skills… that’s it.

    As for the decline in literature or the decline in reading, these are difficult times indeed but the human soul cannot survive without art and entertainment. It is only a question of time before cultures around the world rediscover the beauty and importance of that which they shun today as useless and a ‘waste of time’. But how long do we have to wait?

    In the meantime, to all the writers out there: write, write and write… just make it as good as possible. It is only because you are passionate about your writing that it will mean something one day. Your time will come.

    • Wow! Now I haven’t read ‘music’ in a while :)
      Sometimes it comes to us as simply a particular problem. I probably should highlight this comment of yours… You know there’s lots of inspiration to what you’ve put here… Someday perhaps far better would come but the question as you have aptly asked is ‘When?’ Two hundred years to come?

      Pen picked… Keyboard in check. Inky thoughts. Back to the writing board.
      PS: You do have a degree in Mathematical Science? Wow! Never would have guessed! Oh well… You have the chance to talk through both sides of the mouth now at least :)

  2. Pingback: Wildlife art festival in California | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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