‘Corporate organisations should do more for literature’

FOR the month of October, three writers, Servio Gbadamosi, Ehi Zogie and Ikechuckwu Nwaogu,

completed their six week-residency at the Ebedi International Writers Residency, Iseyin, and apart from finding time to focus on their writings, it was another opportunity to experience a completely different environment.

For Gbadamosi, who is also into the development of writers, coming to Ebedi gave him the time to focus on his writings without any form of distraction from his daily schedules.

“I am a very busy person, and I am also into the development of writers. I organise training programmes and readings in Ibadan where literary lovers come to share ideas and critique their writings.

So coming to Ebedi gave me the opportunity to put all those behind me and focus on my writings alone.

“If I was in Ibadan, I would definitely not accomplish what I have been able to accomplish here in Iseyin, and I am grateful for this opportunity,” Gbadamosi said.

Gbadamosi’s position was also echoed by Zogie, who stays in Benin, the Edo State capital. Zogie, who has won several poetry awards, both locally and internationally, believes he would not have done what he did if he was in Benin.

“This is why I want to say that this residency is a positive development for literature in Nigeria, and I want to say that there is not much difference between Ebedi and other residencies in other parts of the world.

Zogie recently completed his residency in Senegal, and he said while the residency there had the support of corporate organisations and even the government, the same thing cannot be said about the support literature is getting in Nigeria.

“By this time, corporate organisations should even be falling over themselves to support the Ebedi residency, but this is not the case.

“That is why I want to commend Dr Wale Okediran, the founder of this residency for the good work he is doing. It is only because he is passionate about literature, and that is why he has been able to sustain this project since inception,” Zogie said.

Part of the assignment of residents is the need to assist secondary school students in Iseyin develop their literary creativities, and this, according to Nwaogu, was an interesting part of the residency. “I can say that the students are really talented, and the majority of them now want to study creative courses in tertiary institutions.

“However, one of the problems they have is the inadequate command of the English language, but one positive thing is that some of them are really working hard towards overcoming this obstacle,” Nwaogu said.

Apart from the challenge of the English language, Gbadamosi admits that there are a couple of them who have shown promises of being good writers in the Yoruba language.

“In fact, when I read the stories that some of them had written in Yoruba, I was surprised because one of them even modelled his writing after the late D.O Fagunwa, exploring mysteries in the land. I had to encourage this student to keep up this good work, as the sky is his limit,” Gbadamosi said.

However, Zogie believes that the students’ rapport with residents who attended Ebedi over the last five years have rubbed-off on them, and they already know many things as far as writing is concerned.

“Although many of them are still struggling with the English language, but I can’t imagine what the first set of residents went through while teaching them.

“I know they must have improved a lot, and their commitment to learning is also encouraging, but what I tell them is that they should not just give up, and they should keep the fire burning in them, as it is their passion that will make a way for them,” Zogie said.

After their stay in Iseyin, Nwaogu says that the town is definitely being included in the setting of his new novel.

“Iseyin is a cool and quiet society, and the people are warm; they are also ready to assist strangers, and I am already thinking of how to fit all these into my upcoming novel,” Nwaogu said.

However, for Gbadamosi and Zogie, it is important for corporate organisations to support the vision of Dr Wale Okediran as far as literature is concerned in the country.

“It is a good thing that Nigerian writers are being recognised all over the world today; we are winning awards, and we are being respected as far as literature is concerned, and it is, therefore, important that individuals and organisations aiding the development of literature in the country should be supported, particularly by our corporate organisations,” Gbadamosi  said, while admitting that, “this will even go a long way in encouraging our creative youths to go into literature.”