How Ani Prosper Ikechukwu is influencing the cultural space in Nigeria and beyond.
How Ani Prosper Ikechukwu is influencing the cultural space in Nigeria and beyond.

BR: What inspired your journey in the cultural space?

Well, I come from a lineage of storytellers and much of the cultural influences in the artistic space in the world are traceable to the brilliant cultural talents from my hometown; and the line-up of powerful story tellers in this nation would be incomplete without mentioning the great writers from my home town.  I suppose I can boldly say that I am a cut of the same literary cloth. Literature is a powerful tool of socialization and a cartilage for the absorption of institutionalized values with the sole aim of creating enlightened people; too empowered to be enslaved by oppressive and gas lighting ideologies. Literature is actually a measure of the level of the civilization of any given society.

Once the poets and writers are subdued and gagged, the society is on the precipice of despair and disparagement. We learnt story telling during night stories, and the skills of embellishment, metaphors and litotes, canticles and listicles during family gatherings when we listen to stories wrapped with suspense from gifted griots. Then, the path sometimes chooses you by a streak of sparks while purring into the works of mentors such as Chimamanda - Adichie, Chika Unigwe, Sam Mbah, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and others.

 

 

 

 

BR: How would you evaluate Nigeria’s creative industry?

The Nigerian creative industry is thriving in general but needs some dire overhaul in its functional mechanism. It is right now just dangling in the space and much work still has to be done to democratize the system and make funds ear marked for the system work for all the cultural talents in the space. The space also needs sufficient data and intellectual property protection policies and implementation of such policies.  

 

 BR: What inspired your collection of poems - the texture of joy?

Joy is the reward of accomplishment and we all seek to luxuriate in the euphoria of being recognized for something and our effort no matter how infinitesimal it seems, we find it intriguing when it is considered to be instrumental to the execution of a plan or project. We all want to feel that texture of joy. The sigh of a baby elicits a form of joy and many other matters of affections, promotions , sojourn, discoveries , meeting people , the spark of a new shoe , a loyal friend, healthy ageing parents, migration, discovering new recipes, flying to islands and observing the blue waters , the escape of sands within your palms, the voice of long gone men, goal squashed and to be frankly and fondly spoken of by one's siblings...

This book was inspired by a mammoth of joyful thoughts.

BR: How have you been able to navigate your path in the cultural space?

I am an alumnus at the Lagos Poetrython Academy where I was stuffed with the requisite skills and technical know-how on how to sustain cultural ambitions and those skills have come in handy.

BR: What are the major challenges you have faced being a facilitator in a creative enclave.

 Well, most of our programs have been online since Covid came as a watershed. We deploy tech for events and lectures . Students enroll and we teach them the rudiments of the art; and then hold masterclasses. Power cut is still a challenge and network dalliance with unstable signals. Sometimes, inviting music artistes can be very funny and then the expectations that all the events should be free is a big challenge to the industry. And then government just not strategically doing enough to promote cultural programs in this clime. More so, there is no cohesive cultural calendar and conscious participation by the government, stakeholders and corporate bodies for sustenance. So, we should respect the curator of the Lagos Poetrython Academy for repairing the artistic breach and nurturing lots of talents.

BR: How do you think the government can address some of these challenges?

 Government should set up funds for registered cultural programs and disburse the funds accordingly when the need for it arises. Government should place home grown cultural talents on living wage support so they find time for their artistic gifting; the literature and artistic commissions is the testament to the prevailing civilization of the country. Nigeria seems like a sub literate clime, because even our billionaires do not know how to raise the consciousness of the society through literature. We should have literary grants to support talents in the space. This space can absorb lots of talents who have wandered into other professions for lack of support. Billionaires in other climes perpetuate their legacies by giving to literary works. Check the Miles Morland Foundation and the good works they have been doing.

 

BR: Have you gotten any grant or recognition?

Yeah, I have been recognized by some literary bodies such as the Blackish international literary festival, Lagos Poetrython Academy and the Chronicles of a griot, UK for my contributions to the arts and some other bodies; but I have never gotten a grant from anywhere. Most grants for cultural talents become the piggy bank of the custodians or middle men or cultural economic jobbers and what have you?

 

BR: What is your advice to the upcoming talents?

Well, I will ask them to relax and take their time to enjoy their journey. Read as many writers they can and shun any pressure to plagiarize other people’s works. They should chill and not run faster than their shadows. Mostly, they should learn the ropes and perform in events to grow their art and wait for their time and day of showing forth. And when they fall, they should rise up and look up; then try and climb the rungs again. The map is never the territory. More so, they need to see the sun in midnight and ensure that years and years finds them unafraid. For years like seasons will test their resolve and testaments.

BR: Any last words? We all should be culturally inclined and do everything within means to see the culture outlive us and be bequeathed to this next generation in style.

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