Nigerian writer and publisher, Femi Morgan, on Thursday, linked harsh economic realities as major factors impending growth and progress of art and literary promotion in Nigeria.
The Lagos-based author disclosed this in a statement, via his Facebook handle, where he responded to queries from a supposed friend who challenged the author as to why the promotion of art was seemingly going into extinction, a sharp contrast to developments some years back.
5-10 years ago, Nigerian literary space had seen a major rejuvenation with the spring up of literary events and activities both online and offline across Nigeria with major ones in cities including Lagos, Ibadan, Portharcourt, Abuja, Kano amongst others.
According to Femi, the current economic development, especially since the breakout of the pandemic, was responsible for the observed retrogression, adding that most events in the past were, often, sponsored from the purse of authors, with little or no sponsorship from third parties.
Femi, who wrote extensively on how his popular art and culture event, Artmosphere, had thrived in the past, explained that transiting from bachelorhood to married life for him was another excuse to prioritise where personal fundings should go in a bid to keep body and soul together.
The statement reads in part:
“A week ago, a team member asked me why we had ‘paused’ on organising book and culture events across Lagos and Ibadan like we used to do. I reminded him that we had done it for 10years virtually out of personal purse, and with married life comes new financial challenges.
“As a husband, all your personal funds goes to managing the home–that is the pirority, and then you are looking for more funds to manage the home. It is a strain that breadwinners weave into a rare batik of memories and triumphs.
“I remember how I would work in Lagos, receive my salary and plunge everything into Artmosphere Ibadan. After the events (which ran for 8 years) Jane Muse or Fáloyè Olúwaṣògo Moses would lend me transport fare to go home.
“I would lose my job from the trouble of zizzaging Lagos-Ibadan expressway and get another to fund the same Artmosphere. Gigs here, gigs there, 95% goes to Artmosphere. I have had to trek home sometimes. Food, food was anything that God brought.
“Thanks to uncles and friends and my late sister (who encouraged me to start with the event) who would chip in some funds to make sure the rent for the hall for the event was paid.
“When we hosted Prof Osundare, it was…but in all of this I still kept my dignity and morale. Only if you were close enough to know… I even had trouble paying my school fees for my Master’s degree. I almost dropped out.
“That was the reason why when betrayal came along, and he wanted to lay claims to Artmosphere, I told him, take everything, leave Artmosphere, else ‘you will see crazy!’
“Artmosphere Lagos was a recalibration, but it was not a crack in the code…
“I still do not count it as a waste of time and energy but I don’t think I can do it again in the same manner. I count those times as one of those many things that would later make sense when it all coalese into a definitive triumph. I’m not a mad person, I am a family man. The struggle continues but it has be smart struggle.
“So brother, we are remodelling Artmosphere Nigeria so that it can be sustainable. So that it can fund itself, myself and my team are always eager to do book conversations, engage literature, arts and culture from a deeply rare perspective, promote authors and books, curate music and literary events.
“If we can’t crack the code, we won’t move an inch on the project. My team member was disappointed, but it was the truth. I think I prefer to tell you the truth even if it gets you angry, frustrated rather than to pamper you with lies.
“Everyone I know is going through economic headaches. Since Buhari, especially this year, almost everyone has had to recalibrate. The walls are shrinking and yet we expect ourselves to subvert all of these into greater things.”
Ending optimistic, however, Femi Morgan charged himself and colleagues to work out on frameworks that can sustainably revive the mission to surpass past achievements.
“Today is another day. Lift your head up. Look into the mirror. Tell yourself you can do it. You can try. Perhaps in trying, and trying, you can crack a code that brings personal and collective salvation,” the author submitted.