A Bio-Sketch Of Arts Writing In Nigeria
By Jahman Anikulapo
(Delivered as a Keynote at a seminar on Arts Journalism at the Goethe Institut, Lagos; 2003)
No one should pretend that the story of arts writing in Nigeria’s popular media has ever been formally articulated. The chequered history has never been written in any form. What exist are faint, sometimes, vague ideas of what had been and what is. Albeit the various recorded comments about the origin of arts writing in the country have been largely a function of the personal interest of the person doing the chronicling.
Thus we shall crave the indulgence of this house, if the little story we shall tell today about the origin nay the story of the Nigerian arts writing is largely from very personal perspective.
But we could proceed that the story of arts writing in the media is as informal as the way the vocation itself came into being. Those who have said that the vocation of the arts writer was parasitic of then larger body of Journalism profession have a good point.
The fact from one’s study is that at the initial stage, arts writing in any form served only as an appurtenance of the other desk functions in the newsroom. That was prior the early eighties when the very first attempt was made to set up a formal Department of art or the Arts Desk as we have now come to know it.
Early record of formal writing on the arts had to do with some journalists or academics -- who were themselves artists or merely have the interest of the arts at heart and went ahead to do some reviews of the play they saw the other night or a review of the book they had just finished reading, particularly if such are considered relevant to the situation in the country at the time. Such writings are not necessarily engaging the set canons of evaluating such a particular piece of art; it was mostly free commentaries, which however, would end with pointing out certain perceived shortcomings in the book or the piece of painting or the theatre. Some of the articles are theoretical in tenor and character, particularly if written by an academic.
This point shall be stressed later.
THE vocation of the arts writer as stated above started on an informal note. But remarkably it could be said to have started as early as when the very first Nigerian newspaper, Iwe Ironyin, was published in 1804 by Henry Townsend.
In those days, consumption of artistic productions particularly in formal setting was an elitist venture. The colonial lords and their emerging black bourgeoisie would attend stage concerts or cantata, or recitals and one or two of them would end up writing an individual impression of such a performance.
Most of these writings appeared in the Teacher -- which could be said to be the first journal to appear in Nigeria; published in 1927. The journal was a product of the cultural intelligentsia of those early days, who were mostly expatriates; and a few Lagos elite who had returned from overseas after their studies. It was in The Teacher that impression of the show last night at the various social clubs and halls of performances such as Glover memorial hall would be recorded.
Later, The Teacher became the Nigeria Teacher in 1933, taking on a more local flavour and thus consciously including more writings on artistic and cultural events in the country.
In same early 30s, the Nigerian Field Society was founded. This is an association of, again, the expatriates, mostly staff of multinational companies and their counterparts in the academics, especially in the various Missionary schools.
The Field Society also included a new set of expatriates who had been drawn to the country following archaeological excavations activities, discovery of vast deposits of mineral resources, and general interest in the environment in various parts of the country. They were the officials working on the exploration of coal in the east, iron ore in the Benue trough, cocoa in the West, Oil in what is now known as the Niger Delta. It also included archaeologists and museologists — who had read the various reports by Leo Frobenius about the Terra Cotta findings in the Middle Belt area, the bronze cast heads in Ile Ife and Bini areas as well as the Igbo ukwu in the eastern part.
The members of the Field Society were always on the move, combing the entire soul of the country for these various economic and cultural resources; and in their various journeys they were encountering various aspects of the Nigerian cultural expressions. They could, for instance, walked into a wedding ceremony or a naming or a festival or just about any cultural ritual or purely social functions, and would come back to base to write on their experience(s), just as a matter of sharing with their colleagues or just merely documenting or diarising.
These forms of writing although were far and in between, and sometimes not journalistic in approach, could be said to have been the precursors of Arts writing in Nigeria. Most of the materials recorded from those experiences form part of the resource material that Arts journalism thrive on today.
When the Nigerian Teachers eventually assumed a nationalistic dimension and just as there were political nationalists, there were cultural nationalists who were equally making their own contribution to the demand for autonomy for the colony of the British empire.
Names that came up at this time included that of Frank-Aig-Imoukhuede, who was the first Nigerian secretary of culture under the colonial regime and had inherited the production of the Nigeria magazine as a function; John Pepper Clark, a poet and teacher, ABC Nwosu a military man who, however, wrote profusely on the arts.
There were later Segun Olusola, a broadcaster, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Charles Nnolim, John Munonye and quite a host of others.
Interestingly majority of these writers on the arts were themselves producers of artistic products, thus what they engaged in was not necessarily arts journalism in the sense that it is known today. They were writing, it seems as an extension of their creative ventures.
In particular, the set of Olusola, Soyinka, Ben Obumzelu, Theo Vincent, Dapo Adelugba and the others in their leagues were coming from the Mbari Club and similar other bodies formed then, whose birth had been inspired by the famous German researcher, writer, Ulli Biere. Biere himself had been working with a group of artists in Osobgbo, Ede, Ilobu and Ode Omu areas of today’s Osun State. He had also been part of the artistic renaissance witnessed in Ibadan, which was home to the very first university facility in the country.
Biere wrote extensively on the works of the artists he was working on. Mostly he exposed such works through the Nigeria Magazine and the Nigerian Field Study journals as well as other newspapers that were in existence then.
But later he founded the Black Orpheus, which was like the journalistic arm of the Mbari. The Orpheus was edited from the beginning by J. P. Clark, and it featured a lot of the poetry of the emerging class of Nigerian writers as well as critiques of their works.
As stated earlier, the nature of the writings was not necessarily journalistic. At best they were intuitive reflections on the art work, performance, the piece of literature or even the artist.
This kind or writing later was dominated by the academics, who had since then dominated the world of Nigeria’s artistic productions or were at the forefront of managing the many talents or practitioners.
It was natural; for graduate of humanities to gravitate towards writing in the media… although they had a high bias for literature except for occasional exposure of the theatre and the Fine Arts if and when such events did occur. This was the event that threw up such names as Femi Osofisan, Yemi Ogunbiyi, Ossie Enekwe, Gordini Darah, Odia Ofeimun among others.
A significant event in the history of the development of arts writing in Nigeria however, was the advent of the Nigerian Civil War, especially its conclusion.
The war, which began in 1967, ended in January 1970 and while the federal government in the spirit of its ‘No Victor No Vanquished’ verdict on the war had launched a schematic process of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation, it was exploring divergent ways of realising these policies such that the wounds unleashed by the war would be healed soonest.
A corp of cultural intelligentsia drawn from different parts of the country had then thought of how to contribute to the scheme. They resolved on forming a body that would explore the country’s vast cultural resources as a means of reuniting the polarised people. This was how the Nigerian Arts Society was founded in the seventies.
Its major project was the Nigerian Arts Festival, which, however, was inspired by the First World Black Festival of Arts otherwise known as the Negro Festival held in Dakar Senegal in 1966. Majority of members of the Nigeria Arts Society had been to the Dakar festival as artists-participants and had experienced the power of culture and the arts in the process of civilising human beings as well as uniting diverse interests.
They thus staged the first festival of the arts, which brought participants from across the various parts of the country.
The advent of the festival brought an intensity into cultural production as well as activities. With such increased activities came naturally increased public enthusiasm in artistic products as well as cultural affairs of the country. Part of the dividend too was the increased enthusiasm in writing about the various activities.
This can be said to be the turning point in the fortune of arts writing in the country.
The national festival of the arts was like a testing ground for the hosting of the second edition of the Festival of World Black and African Arts and Culture, FESTAC, which Nigeria hosted in 1977.
Festac 77 brought thousands of participants from as many as 52 countries of the world including from Latin America, South America, Asia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States apart from all over Africa.
This convergence of cultures from all over the world opened up the vista of arts writing in the country. There were writers who also functioned as writer on the arts and cultural products, who came in and interacted with Nigerian commentators on the arts.
There was so much to write about in all the disciplines of the arts.
This is another major turning point in the history of arts writing. And coming so soon after the Nigerian Arts Festival was itself a boost.
The resultant feast of writings filtered into newspapers and other popular mediums including the radio and television.
After the festival, there was no longer any excuse for most publishers not to take up coverage of the arts and cultural affairs seriously.
Particularly, many of the papers and electronic mediums spared space(s) for such; but much of these writings was however, still very academic i.e. review of a play, a concert; a book, an exhibition. They were not journalistic, in the sense of going out and reporting events as they occurred. If they did it was too infrequent albeit accidental.
Quite fundamental to this was the thriving of the Daily Times, which was the nation’s first national newspaper wit vast interest in the humanities.
The coming of the Punch Newspaper in the late seventies served as a rallying point for this emerging trend of arts writing. However, the nature of the paper as a popular mid-course intellectual medium soon made it unattractive to the corps of intellectuals who wanted to engage the spaces of the popular newspapers to express their thoughts about creative works.
Nevertheless, the Punch became a watering hole for writings on music as well as the theatre. Names that became popular on the medium included Dean Disi, John Chukwu, Laolu Akins among others who were, however, music practitioners of different hues but who were equally writing on musical activities; particularly the career of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was shaped through this writings.
There was also the National Interest, where Eddy Aderinokun made a mark as a popular writer on music. He was managing the affairs of some musicians including the BLO, Monomono and partly Osibisa, which at that time had been making significant impact in the course of their foreign tours.
Names like Benson Idonije, a major music presenter on the national radio was also managing the fledgling career of Afrobeat creator, Fela Kuti and he made it a duty to write on the activities of his ward. Then Fela was doing a lot of international tours. Idonije also wrote on the activities of musicians such as Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Ayinla Omowura, Victor Olaiya, Rex Lawson, Sonny Okosuns, Victor Uwaifo and a host of other musicians who were just beginning to build their career.
An important contribution to music writing was the weekly Top Ten Chart through which the most selling or most popular music for the particular week was being exposed and rewarded on air. Many of the critiques of the particular album or artist that made it to the Top Ten were eventually published in the newspapers and this helped a lot to kick start the music writing leg of arts writing.
The Concord Newspapers came to join the league of music-friendly mediums which also included the Spears (published by he Punch), the Drums (from South Africa with a franchise in Lagos) and the Lagos Weekend of the Daily Times.
Ladi Ayodeji was the one who, however, consolidated the foundation already laid at the Punch. He was later joined by Azuka Jebose Molokwu among others.
As for other disciplines of the arts, the school-based arts professionals or enthusiasts continued to hold the forte. But the medium available to them was very limited.
This was what The Guardian galvanised in 1984 when it came on board. Signing in as a liberal intellectual paper it hunted out the intellectuals who had been writing on the arts to form parts of the vanguard of its beginning. they included Yemi Ogunbiyi, Femi Osofisan, Odia Ofeimun, Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie, among others.
They were in the Editorial Board of the new newspaper but they extended their briefs to include writing on the arts. They launched the Guardian literary series after the famous Times Literary Supplement of London. Aside these staff of The Guardian, they also mobilised materials from their colleagues — mostly academics in the humanities of the various universities
And this was the renaissance of Arts writing in the country. But is still concentrated on Literature mainly. The result of that initial work has yielded two publications Perspectives on Nigerian Literature 1 and 2.
BIRTH OF A FORMAL ART DESK
The concept of a formal Arts Desk as currently preponderant in Nigerian newsrooms could be traced to the foresight of Benson Tomoloju, a man whom Afam Akeh (ex-Review Editor Daily Times), in his essay, Nigerian Arts Writing (written to mark Tomoloju’s 50th birhday) referred as the ‘father’ of Nigerian Culture reporting. Tomoloju had joined The Punch Newspapers about 1979 -- shortly after his Youth Service with the television station in Markurdi -- as a Leader Writer with extended interest in editorial cartooning. A man of boundless talents and resourcefulness, he also began writing about the arts in the paper. And being a practitioner himself with good reputation among the culture intelligentsia he had also attracted a couple of his friends to write on the arts for the paper. But unlike what had obtained, Tomoloju concentrated not just on reviews and critiques, he also reported on events as they were happening in the environment of creative enterprise. The effort gained quick public attention.
When the Weekly Democrat was to debut in 1983, the arts and culture was a major consideration. It launched a Review Desk and Tomoloju was the one asked to manage the desk. This was almost like asking him to continue the crusade he had started at the Punch.
The Review desk of The Democrat was a revolution in the annals of Nigerian Arts Writing. Its pages bristled with living arts… that is artistic activities as they were happening. They would go on tour with a performing troupe and then come back to give a full account of what transpired on that assignment. They would sit in a studio with a musician and observe him pour his soul on the vinyl.
These were refreshing reporting. And they spared energy to peep into what the government was doing to better the lot of the artists.
In that team at the Democrat, though many of them were mere contributors were Chuzzy Onuorah, Emmanuel Ibeziakor, Longinus Chukwudike, Jossy Ogbuanoh, Toyin Akinosho, Kole Ade-Odutola among many others.
One recall, that as a student of Dramatic Theory and Literary Criticisms in the early eighties at the University of Ibadan, these were the names that we were compelled to read every Saturday when the paper came out on the stand. And some of us were also lucky to have our articles exposed in the same paper.
From the Democrat, Tomoloju was invited in 1986 to set up perhaps Nigeria’s first full and formal Arts Desk with its own separate set of reporters who are never bothered to double on some other beats as was then the practice in other papers.
Of importance however, was the fact that Tomoloju himself being an activist on the cultural, ideological turf, unconsciously indoctrinated his reporters to be more than just journalists. They had to see themselves as being involved in a struggle to put the arts at the centre of national discourse. As he always suggested then: "A nation that neglects cultural dimension in its thought processes and actions, will only end up being counter productive"
This maxim runs deep in the skin of the arts desk of The Guardian and perhaps still runs as those who are graduates of the desk and who are here today would probably testify.
In a paper CULTURE AND DEVELOPMENT: CHALLENGES FACING THE NIGERIAN ARTS JOURNALIST, which he delivered two years ago at a similar seminar such as we are engaged in today, Tomoloju recollect the names of those who formed the vanguard of his Arts and Culture desk while suggesting the inevitable garb of activism that arts journalism in an environment as impervious to progressive ideals such as Nigeria’s, must adorn:
"It is heartening, at least that in the last two decades, a certain section of the Nigeria mass media has evolved and sustained a consistent and forward-looking tradition of arts journalism practice in both the print and electronic media. Indeed, it is the sheer commitment to the noble ideals of culture, buoyed on a sound intellectual base that made the leading light of arts journalism to plunge head-long in the late 1970s into a vocation that they felt needed to be professionalized in accordance with the demands of journalism .
"And it was reinforced in 1988 when the Cultural Policy for Nigeria was promulgated into law. Article 8, sub-section 1.2 duly acknowledges the importance of the press, stating, among others, that the state shall ensure.
"The spirit of the document was as prescriptive as it was contemporaneous. It truly reflected the breakthrough already recorded by the Nigerian arts journalists of that period in history, such that policy-makers could hardly ignore them. Some of them were even in the vanguard of its formulation, notably respected culture essayist and dramatist Femi Osofisan, poet Odia Ofeimun and folklorist G.G. Darah. Others like this writer participated in the drafting of its implementation strategies.
"To prove a point beyond the rapport between arts journalists and the officialdom, the practitioners went ahead in 1990 to establish the Arts Writers Organization of organization was established to promote professionalism among all its writers and cultural information officers at both governmental and non-governmental levels.
"With their high level commitment, this corps of journalists — among whom are Fola Arogundade of the Punch, Dili Ezugha, Andy Ezeani, Toyin Akinosho, Kole Ade-Odutola in various free-lace and full-time capacities were boldly supportive of the realisation of milestones in a period referred to as the "golden age" of Nigerian culture.
"In this connection, they worked assiduously for the establishment of the National Troupe of Nigeria in 1986 and the revival of the National Festival of Arts and Culture in 1988. They gave reportorial prominence and in-depth analysis to the struggles of artists and other culture producers, especially the roles of Tony Okoroji, Onyeka Onwenu, and Charles (Charly Boy) Oputa in staging public demonstrations for a review of the Nigerian copyright law. They actively participated in workshops and seminars ensuring by their persistence that the law was not only reviewed, but the Nigerian Copyright Council (now a Commission) was established.
Today, one of the arts journalists who were
Particularly active in the copyright campaign, Lanre Adebayo, has since studied and graduated in law and has a column in the Daily Times on copyright. The pursuit of the arts journalists of the 80s - who also include television and radio producers like Tokunbo Ojekunle, Radio Lagos and, Kehinde Young-Harry and the late Abdulkadir Ayomaya of the Nigerian Television Authority - did not ignore the financing of culture. They kept the beam of their reportorial eyes on the propspects of the National Endowment for the Arts, which have, since been established by law, but it yet to be formally launched ten years after.
"We may go on with this catalogue of achievements. It would not be merely to entertain a triumphal sense in the practice of arts journalism in Nigeria. Rather, it is to bring to public knowledge that the profile of arts and culture in the media is not really as bad as generally touted. A number of young, dynamic and highly committed professionals are out there in the field who, given the right incentive via an enabling environment of work, could turn things around for the better.
"This entails squaring themselves up to micro-cultural and macro-cultural realities on ground, facing the anatomical details of culture and the media needs of Nigeria in disequilibria. The world information order in this age of globalisation".
It is this doctrine of working for the environment of the arts which has informed our own vision of arts journalism: that it is not enough to write bogus critiques and reviews, which only talk to no other person but the artists themselves.
The purposeful arts journalism like a functional art is that which is conscious of creating a viable environment for creativity to flourish. When such an environment has been created or at least 70 per cent realised then the arts journalist can indulge in the lavish display of big words of canons and critical theories, which are only meaningful to the artists but meaningless to his audience.
As a matter of fact, below is a thought we recently shared with a TV journalist on why we made the choice that we have had to painfully make as concerns Arts Journalism and our intervention.
When People talk about the absence of Criticism in the culture sector, you intend to ask yourself: what are they expecting?
Criticism can only thrive in an environment where there is room for creativity. But when you live in an environment that stifles creativity, you cannot expect criticism to thrive. You want to look at the work of art, you want to talk about somebody’s performance -- a dancer or a visual artist -- you must look at the environment of performance. What has the state or the society provided for Norbert Young not just to produce his film but to produce effectively; or to produce a quality work? what has the environment provided for Olu Ajayi who is a quality painter to produce a qualitative work of art? What has the environment given to ‘Alariwo of Africa’ to strive to produce his songs to the best of his ability ..
When you put all these things together you'll see that the environment is not even prepared for the artist to perform effectively or optimally.
Why are you expecting the artist to live above that environment?
Then you sit down and you say you are a critic, you are observing trend of performances and making comments on them, and pointing a way for the future! What future are you pointing to, when the people that consume the art works are not even prepared for qualitative ones.
That is why you find out that most critics… let me use myself as an example… I took a decision; I said the era of just sitting down in my newsroom and writing critiques about somebody’s work has to be postponed for sometime! I resolved that I wanted to be more involved in crating the necessary environment for the artists to be able to, a t least produce qualitative works. If I succeeded in that conscientious activism, then I can sit down and write comments.
I don’t want to go through the exasperating experience of writing comments on works that are by all the parameters for critical discourse are substandard; especially works I know that given the right environment, the artist could have accomplished better.
Perhaps, if I am myself not one who engage in creative enterprises all the time, it wouldn’t have mattered; but I am an artiste first; the critical vocation is only a gift of talent and a bonus acquired through my training in Dramatic Theories and Literary Criticisms; and years of practice as a writer on the arts and cultural productions.
I am not just an observer of the trends in culture production; I am an active participant; just as any producer could be. I cannot afford the luxury of a mere journalistic interrogation of artistic experiences. The journalist can do that, I have no qualms. I am informed in my practice by something deeper than journalistic inclination and expertise.
By my training and antecedent, I cannot continue to be saying: "that theatre performance is not good enough.' That painting is not good.’ Etc. do I know how much of Norbert’s wife’s money, Norbert has stolen to be able to produce that film? Do I know much of his properties he had to sell; or the dirty thing that people had to go into to raise money to produce a play I have once been a witness to a lady theatre producer having to befriend a banker just so to be able to pay the balance of his cast and crew fees, when the supposed sponsors ditched her at the last minute. She got a loan through that means but the cast needed not know where the money came from. There are uglier stories that I heard from artistes themselves… many of them are big stars today… on what they did to get their first album off the demo state…
Then, I sat down and reviewed my intervention in the institution of critical discourses and I resolved that I’d better off, conscience-wise, if I diverted my critical sensibility to culture activism. We try to create the right environment for quality creativity to flower, then nobody will have an excuse for under-performance or perfunctory production. And this is why I am very compassionate when it comes to matters concerning the arts I insist that if you are a Minister for culture or minister in charge of entertainment, Minister in charge of Tourism, you must do what the Minister of Aviation is doing in terms of envisioning for the wholesome uplifting of the sector; you must initiate good policies and carry out necessary reforms with a view to making the vocations and the practitioners have hope and perform optimally. You must do what the Minister of Transport is ready to do in terms of providing the necessary infrastructure for that vital sector of the national economy…
The culture sector is the fundament of our nation building. You take of technology transfer, how can you transfer technology, when you don’t even know the basic farm impliments that we have; you don’t even know them, so, you cant improve on them. then you want to talk about technology transfer! You can only transfer ignorance and incompetence at handling such transferred knowledge. It is all-laughable.
So, instead of jumping on the bandwagon, and jumping the gun, I decided to stay on one spot and use my talent and a little link that God has helped me to gather these years in the course of the job, in ensuring that the right environment; the appropriate visions; functional policies and beneficial action are taken by whoever the political process throws into the leadership of the culture sector of the economy.
That is more important to me than writing reviews and critiques that don’t even get read by the public but the artists themselves and their colleagues. Even at that, how many of those can afford to buy the papers to read up what you have written about them. Most times, you -- the writer-- still has to take paper to the artists and say, ‘look what I have written about your work’.. Haba, the burden that the so-called arts writer carries is enormous; painful at times.
So, I reviewed my career and I said since, God has been kind to me, I have a voice, when I write and when I talk people listen, I should use that to make the right noise, the right statement, so that we can challenge the polity to give recognition to the labour of the artists and culture workers; so that we can begin to create room for quality intellect that would produce qualitative art.
That is why I have been so engrossed in what ha come to be termed ‘Culture Activism"… I am sure the sobriquet is in the context of a civil activist, human rightist or social activist. But really, it does not really matter what it is called. I only know I have a missionary zeal to the cause of the art and culture.
That is why I am deeply involved in cultural activism structures such as the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), which also incorporates such other bodies as Culture Enthusiasts Club; Lagos Circle of Critics; Friends of the Arts; Culture Working Committee etc. of course, the more fundamental of such structures is the Coalition of Nigeria Artists, CONA, a fraternity of all the artists professional associations, which primary aim is to protect the interest of all the artists whatever their callings; and especially to give some kind of assistance to the artists when they are distressed. Unfortunately, the coalition has been crippled by unnecessary politics by a certain section of the artiste community. But I assure you, the vision can never be eclipsed.
I believe that it is when I have succeeded in helping get the right environment, that is the point at which the critic in me will come out. And I don’t have to still be a practising journalist when that time will manifest.
That is my position and I have no apology about it; not even to myself. Even a critic has a choice to criticise or remain silent’!
What I have done is to do an overview of our entertainment sector in the context of my own experience in a time capsule of my years on the job as an arts writer.
But I insist that, though we may complain about quality of what we produce and the attitude of the artists, we have to bear one point in mind: that the artist cannot live outside of his own environment. He must operate within his environment. To expect him to live in a pure world, the world that is not corrupt, is to construct a Utopia; an unreal world, totally antithetical to his environment that is corrupt.
Even if the artist doesn’t want to be corrupt, remember that in an environment like this, he’s coming from a family, and this family members are going to ask him: "We are not interested in how many times you appeared on the television, we are interested in what you have made for yourself; what are you going to give to your brothers and sisters; what have you made for your parents; what have you made for the community that nurtures your being.
In the West, some of these questions may not apply because of their socialisation process and the way the society is constructed, which is why an artist will make a single hit, and he becomes an international star, money wise, influence wise, and so on; he could go and buy the most expensive house in the costliest area of town and spend so much money on it. That is the way he wants to spend his fortune. No extended or expanded family to ask him to take in his cousin and his cousin’s cousin or to offer scholarship to other youths in the community as a matter of compulsion, since the community had contributed to his school or whatever.
But an artist here… I have one actor on my street, you imagine the pressure that the man goes through to be able to live to a standard that is expected of him by people in the neighbourhood. I have seen him done one or two things on the street, and I just know that this was not what he wanted to do, but he has to do it, because of the expectation of his neighbours.
So we cannot expect the art, the entertainment produced by artists living and functioning in this stifling environment to be well rounded in all creative departments as that produced in other societies where there are, at least, the basic infrastructures that enable creativity to flower; that encourages clean, clear thought, and make provision for facilities, including social respect and understanding; and thus assist the artist to concentrate on the business of thinking and creating.
We have to first create the right, functional environment; and that is what I have dedicated my intervention through the media, especially after 13 solid years as arts reporter and so-called critic. And when I say creating the environment; it does not just stop at creating Endowment Fund or launching the Cultural Policy or establishing an Art Academy — all vital institution to culture management that other societies take for granted but which we don’t even have after 40 years of Independence and clamour for same instruments- the saner environment also includes re-orientating the society and the people consuming the artwork to begin to see the artist as a professional who deserves to eat from his toil; his talent and his skill just as the medical doctor, the lawyer or the engineer. In fact, the appropriate social respect for the vocation of the artist or culture worker is the first essential infrastructure to be created.
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