From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
With increased efforts to bring to an end the importation of storytellers to depict Nigerian and African history, the General Manager of the National Theatre Nigeria, Prof. Sunday Ododo, has said that Nigeria was focused on encouraging creatives to tell their stories.
Prof. Ododo said this while speaking at the launch of MSwitch Creative Spaces and ArkHive, a platform focused on encouraging Nigeria’s young creative minds to, not only tell their stories but know the appropriate medium to sell them.
He also said that every art springs out from the condition of the society of the artists, and as such, the Nigerian story must be told from a Nigerian perspective.
He described the platform as one which will not only nurture young creative minds but will in turn, serve as a production hub of unharnessed ideas.
Presenting a keynote address on the theme “Arts for Change”, Prof. Ododo said that the ArkHive platform was being propelled by Nigerian youths to unlock economic and social prosperity that can influence the rest of the world.
He submitted that art in Nigeria especially during the colonial era was suppressed and could only be viewed from the eyes of the British masters.
He further noted that those who took over power to bring freedom to the people did so successfully with the help of artists and their crafts.
He said: “During the colonial period, the colonial masters came and forced us to adopt their own cultural way of life, thereby, making us look down on our own cultural values.
“It was a period of brain washing and strong believe that whatevers good can only be mirrored through the eyes of the white man. So when the quest for freedom began, our artists made contributions, using their arts to redeem our own cultural space to let us know that what we had before these people came was also and is still viable.”
Also, noting that for many, creativity is a ‘Lagos thing’, Ododo, said the launch of ArkHive brings to life activities of the creative mind in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city and its environment.
He assured that his administration is expanding to give mobility to National Theatre beyond the Lagos space to create zonal offices across the country, by giving room to creative hubs like music, fashion and film.
In his address, Kadir Salami, the founder of MSwitch and ArkHive platform opined that contrary to several beliefs, Nigeria does not have a shortage of talent.
He, however, explained that the major challenge of the creative industry in Nigeria is the ability of storytellers and other creatives to sell Nigerian or African stories.
His words:”Simply because we have lots of stories that have not been told, we have barely scratched the surface and over the years we have realised that the challenge in Africa and in Nigeria is not a shortage of talent but it is the ability for the young talent to be able to realise their potentials.”
“That is exactly why MSwitch has set up a place like this that would allow young talents like us to be able to thrive and live abundantly through our skill sets.”
He assured that the ArkHive would serve as a community where creatives would be at liberty to meet with mentors who would provide the needed guidance to explore the world of creativity.
According to Salami, there are two major challenges faced by young creatives in Nigeria and they are being able to explore their talent and showcase them to the world.
The second is to have a community where mentors are readily available to help the young creatives to express their talents, and tell and sell the Nigerian stories.