The class of people who knock all initiative while doing nothing at all are curious.
In the last days, I’ve seen posts disparaging the export of 72 tonnes of yams. The most curious was on the grounds the yams could have been turned into some pharmaceutical syrup. The yams have always been there. The industrial chemical process to produce the syrup does not need pioneering research. Yet these geniuses did not act. That Audu Ogbeh’s action signals a shift in public policy, a shift in which they can fit, escapes them by the length of two stadia.
Then there has been a call for a boycott of the Kaduna Books festival, ostensibly either because of the perceived character of the State governor or extrajudicial actions of the Nigerian State, the massacre of Shias, in Zaria. That the festival is a private initiative of Lola Shoneyin ‘s Book Buzz Foundation, leveraging on available public sector spending at the time of Kaduna State’s golden jubilee, misses these activists by stadia as well. Nor the fact that there will always be complaints about the State, endlessly pressed into service, for whatever purpose yet there are no alternatives to collaboration, from policy to projects, if the Arts is to be moved forward in this country.
The class of people in these two examples really do not want anything.
How the country moves forward will be decided by those of us, whether Audu Ogbeh or Lola Shoneyin or a few hundred others, who not only want things but are willing to work and act to bring what we want about.
If we are to survive and thrive, it will be because of those who summon platforms out of thin air and not those who wonder why things they have not done are not done differently or in a manner that pleases them.
These curious little bundles will always be marginal. My aim has always been to sit across the board from the history of my times and make my moves. Where can I do this, with all the knowledge and experience I need, other than at an arts festival that will draw other writers who share my vision for my times? This is why I stand with those who act. There must be purpose. There must be something one, as an individual artist, wants.
To the entrepreneurs amongst you, the Minister of Agriculture has given you a wink. To the art lovers, there is a city next week where your thought and presence is welcome.