About a year ago, the rampaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forced Nigeria’s central government to impose lockdowns on three cities – Lagos, Ogun and the FCT. The safety measure caused economic losses, halting and displacing the normal in governance, commerce and literature. How did Nigerian literature put up with the disruptions?
For the sake of safety, everything had to give. Cancellation of pre-planned book readings, book festivals and literary gatherings became inevitable. And these gatherings, including Providus Bank’s World Poetry Day event that made a comeback recently, connected more with the physical convergence of audiences.
Tweaking and adapting in the community took a little while, taking the same route as COVID-induced changes to work and how we live. The eventual embrace opened up new ways of presenting and consuming artistry.
Ake Arts & Book Festival 2020 is a solid reference. Why? For the first time in eight years, the organisers moved the annual event online last October. The decision turned out well, creating new experiences for attendees in the process.
New platforms and tools for event hosting inspired new ways of going about the regular in the literary community. Ake Arts & Book Festival 2020 organisers adopted this approach, ensuring the success of panel discussions, performances and Q&A.
From experience to attendance, moving the event to the virtual space pushed attendance barriers to the backwaters. More people gained access to the line-up of events and speakers: a plus for the brains behind the festival.
Now, literary communities in Nigeria are adopting a mix of physical and virtual for events. The benefits speak for themselves amid the new normal that has come to stay.
What does this mean for the future of Nigerian literature? New realities are occupying seats once held by the regular hence literary communities have to keep up on the path of evolving. There is so much to gain from embracing tech for the promotion of artistry and literature products.