Sunday, March 08, 2009


Helon Habila reminds me of the first time Bibi and I met him, back when he was teaching at the writing programme at UEA, here. Bibi and I were about to make the big leap into the darkness, and were full of excitement. Cassava Republic was still a couple of years away from becoming reality. He's right - the way ahead for Nigerian publishing is a long and thorny path...


Occupied Funk 1:04 pm  

A friend asked similar question sometime last week when she came visiting and asked about my mums business (our family bookshop): that - how do we revive the reading culture in a country like Nigeria?

Recalling my mums bookshop. That was a very noble idea, founded as a company (choice bookshop ltd) in the mid 80's, after she retired from teaching. It was an ambitious project and originally the premises was located on Allen Avenue Ikeja where it occupied a complete building.

Almost twenty years now, and with the bookshop in temporary hibernation mode, Habila's question isn't a strange one at all particularly in a country that has never been ruled by any other but the completely stupid and illiterate.

My late dad's publisher (Joop Berkhout) - an expatriate like yourself - pioneered spectrum books in the late 70's and I think they are doing ok. With the support of another family friend (name withheld) who co-founded prudent bank with my late dad, Joop started in a hotel room. My dads books (firstly, Sfem in Nigeria and secondly, IMF Yes (1985), S.O. Ogundipe, Spectrum Books, Ibadan referenced in those archives come under Joops (spectrum) label.

So I don't think the publishing industry is dead. It may be in temporary hibernation but it is not dead.

In fact, an outfit such as your revolutionary Cassava Republic will have to keep at it. You need to enact what Joop did! You need a supporter who shares your passion. Not jusy any moneybag. I also don't think you should just promote everybody and anybody. You need to open your eyes in Nigeria and associate with those pursuing a lofty dream and not those interested in money. And you need to be careful of what those who are calling themselves your friends are saying to you about others.

Sorry for taking up too much space. I think it's too early on a sunday.

Waffarian 2:12 pm  

Hang in there abeg. You guys are doing a great job. Its hard work, I can imagine...but keep on pushing...sooner or later, something's got to give.

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