We Should All Be Writers: The Facebook Phenomenon

November 22, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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By

John Chizoba Vincent

 

 

In many cities around the world, especially in undeveloped countries, writers have been the subject of abuse, neglect, exploitation and even in extreme cases murder, by evil critics who don’t critique constructively. These writers, expected mirrors through which we see society or rather the eyes of society, experience various obnoxious and unbearable frustrations, depression and suicidal thoughts which in most cases result in them ending up on the street, thereby being labeled as street/internet writers or the most common one ‘facebook writers‘.

 

The problem still lies in our society, we commonize these set sof people. We never thought of their feelings and other things. Instead, we prefer to celebrate them more in death rather than when they are alive. We all should be writers to know what it means to be one. We all should be writers burning candles and fuel to write those things that will remain tomorrow after we have gone to the other world.

 

These writers, either by design or default, become victims of circumstances created by the environment; sometimes emanating from past experiences with lackadaisical attitudes to the wellbeing of their successors. By extension, some of these writers are on the streets of pain because of a poor reading culture, lack of encouragement resulting to vain praises, mistreatment, neglect and lack of basic necessities of life to make their writing easy and fun.

 

I once told a friend of mine some time ago that it is very easy to push from the outside to Nigeria as a writer rather than you pushing from Nigeria to the outside world. If you look at the likes of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tomi Adeyemi, Helon Habila, Wole Soyinka, Onyeka Nwelue and many others, they all pushed from outside into Nigeria and that is why you hear their names carved in the sand of time. They were first welcomed by the white men before their homeland welcomed them. I once remember reading that Wole left the shores of Africa to study abroad when he was 19 years old and there, he must have made the necessary contacts he needed as a writer. Chimamanda did the same thing at 19. And many writers by default want to leave home as quickly as possible once their voice is recognized over there. They want to remain there as writers rather than coming back home because there is better than here.

 

As a result of dangers posed on the career of homemade writers, they found ready homes in unoccupied dwellings, uncompleted buildings, under the bridges and wastelands more than their dreams and aspirations.

 

They end up dying with their dreams as writers and not reaching their goals as writers. This is depressing and frustrating when a writer cannot really say he wants to be a writer here and make a living through writing and educating people on how to leave a footprint in the sand of time as a writer without becoming frustrated.

 

This includes home based writers who might not necessarily be worthless and hopeless to themselves, writers who are homeless and voiceless out there or without families, but who live in situations where there is no protection, finance, or direction from responsible publishers, as well as writers in such a wide variety of circumstances, issues, problems and characteristics that our lawmakers and service providers find difficult to describe and target. These writers out there are frustrated moving from one particular publishing house to another seeking help on how their works could be published. Some of them are tired of being called writers because they aren’t making a living through what they call a profession. Yes, they aren’t making a good living through what they stand to be known.

 

Besides the country’s economic situation and other vices, these writers may have chosen to make the streets and libraries as their resort for other reasons. Unfortunately, some of them may have no choice as writers – they are abandoned, rejected writers, or thrown out of their homes by poverty and depression as they are termed facebook writers or something like that. Some may choose to live their life in defiance, another condition that has to do with the psychological make up of writers. Disappointedly though, some writers also work other jobs especially those with families because their earnings are needed by their family members and relations for their upkeep and other things; they have other responsibilities to cater for privately and publicly and taking writing as the only profession here in Nigeria won’t in any way provide all these to them. It won’t pay their bills.

 

I know a writer who spends #250,000 to publish a book but he could not sell up to 500 copies of that book for more than one year. The last time we spoke, he told me that he decided to give those books out at a literary event so that they won’t become rotten in his room. In fact this particular case is becoming very rampant. Everybody can write but there are purposeful writers who enjoy what they do whether there is money or no money. These set of people live their life on a daily basis depending on other jobs to provide their bread. We should all pick up our biros to mirror society as it is and tell others how we see our own very society whether it is encouraging or not. Wear their shoes and know how it is hurt. Writers are more like teachers here in Nigeria.

 

The challenges posed by these writers both to the government, economy, commerce and the environment at large cannot be overemphasized. The resultant effects created may appear very immensurable but in the long run it creates a devastating imbalance on the society at large as well as to Africa.

 

There is no doubt that the government is saddled with a number of issues bordering on the wellbeing of this profession, having also the responsibility of addressing the danger for home based writers in the country. But the challenge is that no particular measurable step has so far been taken to address the issue facing these home based writers in Nigeria. No step has been taken to help raise new voices from these young generations that spring up every day as writers, rather the ball is still in the court of our ancestry heroes, the ball that was played yesterday remained in the hands of our predecessors. New voices are created every year but their throats are getting drier each day because of the frustration and depression it entails being a writer on this side of the world.

 

Writers and readers are no doubt part of the larger society. However, the underlying factors responsible for the poverty or breakdown of writers and readers could be traceable to social, economic, political and environmental factors. It is only someone that has food in his or her belly that would have the strength to read. Without food, you can never concentrate while reading.

 

The facebook, magazine and internet writers phenomenon in Nigeria is gradually assuming alarming proportions, particularly in urban areas of our country. The immediate cause of this challenge appears to be deeply entrenched in finance, poverty and lack of traditional publishers in Nigeria (as in the days of Macmillan, University Press, etc) which defines the lives of the vast majority of the Nigerian home based writers.

 

Invariably, broken and aspiring writers who find it difficult to provide the basic needs end up at some point frustrated and give up on the career and phenomenon very alarmingly resulting in suicide, desperate health issues, the alarming fading of reading culture in our country, particularly now that everyone is somehow broke no one thinks about reading again rather we all think of how to make fast money. We should all be writers to re-write these evils penetrating gradually into the system.

 

 

 

 

John Chizoba Vincent

John Chizoba Vincent is a cinematographer, filmmaker, music video director, poet and a writer. A graduate of mass communication, he believes in life and the substances that life is made of. He has three books published to his credit which includes Hard Times, Good Mama, Letter from Home. For boys of tomorrow is his first offering to poetry. He lives in Lagos.

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