Now, what really is the difference between the two? You might not have paid attention to it but trust me, there is a big one.
Ever been in charge of any literary organisation anywhere? I have. That is literary administration. The thing about literary administration especially when you are truly committed to the cause of literary promotion is that you find out that you do not have so much time to focus on building your career. Trust me, I should know.
Many writers in the spirit of literary evangelisation have tried their best and found out that one has suffered – your writing or your organisation. It is particularly worse in a country like Nigeria where we are only learning to promote our writings.
Literature is one of the most neglected aspect of the Nigerian entertainment scene and why not? Most writers would rather not entertain but write in the usual style of commitment that many African write-ups have come to embody. Do we need to mention the Achebe, Aidoo, Ngugi, Soyinka and other calls that literature should be in the service of humanity and the society afore anything else? Yes, yet, they had a way of writing that would catch a reader’s interest. Most of our writers these days have turned their focus to writing pamphlets and booked journals that can easily pass for newspapers if read to you with your eyes closed. Whether it is in poetry or in prose and yes, plays, you find the same thing. When the average Nigerian has had his/her fill of that on NTA and the newspapers or the reality of time that stares them in the face, why would they want to patronise that? Again, when the writers would have most of their publications done shoddily with either covers that are not attractive or jobs that are badly edited, who would want to read such?
Sadly, even those who do the job well have to contend with the issue of prices made exorbitant due to production costs. This leaves the reader going for the easiest or cheap pick… Many times too the reader would rather go for a renown name to one unknown…
Literary administrators come in here. No matter the forum they head or the medium through which they do their administration, they have the chance to correct most of these wrongs. They have the chance to bring some publicity to writers and introduce them to a wider readership. Through membership of their groups or magazines, or whatever, they can create some serious fellowships that writers would key into. These administrators can also hype the literary field and make it bigger. How? Celebrate writers more. Make events elaborate. Colour them and make writers and writings to look like it is the best thing in the world. Seriously, if you don’t make yourself look real good or take yourself and what you profess seriously, who would?
There was a time when literary associations especially had their administrators come in to change such bodies into new political parties. It would seem that most of these organisations were created because most of the members had decided that it would be safer to come together and create such a forum than run to those violent parties. By the way, writers are easily bullied than the real politicians – especially if you are a Nigerian. J This would be the reason why most literary organisations would have many members not attend readings, critiques or other literary events for a long time and only appear when the election bells are ringing… Reminds me of the story of a certain man who lost out in a contest for leadership of a certain organisation. HE lost and left with most of his friends. He never attended any events of the organisation till the next election when he came to recontest the leadership of the same organisation. Interesting part? He was the crown prince anointed to take over. Hmm…
There is a whole lot to all of these and a certain fusion can be brought to create better writings and fellowships all over. Passion and a mind to create literary growth should be underlining any single writer or administrator. Sure, in better places the writer has the chance to be aloof and all. We really do not have that ‘luxury’. We have to ensure we all do some literary missionary work. One way or the other, we need to encourage people around us to read more literary works. We need to ‘up our game’. We need to meet up and strategise on how to make literature work. That is the only way we can do it.
Better days call to us all. Then, even the literary administrators would be able to relax a bit and write their works more comfortably. Till then, it’s back to work. Which reminds me that I have to go back to organisation of an election. Phew!
PS: for all those who asked for a few links to literary sites and associations, I drop three each from Nigeria
The organisations: Association of Nigerian Authors, Abuja Writers’ Forum, Abuja Literary Society. Google them but the best way to get to them is on Facebook.
- Damn You (letter to Nigerian Literature and All Involved) (sueddie.wordpress.com)