For decades, Nigeria has habitually turned to oil wells to fill her parched throat. Successive Nigerian administrations take turns to lean their back against oil blocks while other sectors are made to wait for the flow. The nation dipped too deep into this well and too frequently even, that it can no longer guarantee the supply of our future needs.
Even the government has accepted that her long-serving oil tap is running dry. The power brokers have turned their focus to a new site where the supply for now is in trickles but the potential is much more than that of the crude oil– this new site is the creative industry which embodies movie, music, fashion and other industries that prioritise the generation and exploitation of knowledge and information.
According to Lai Mohammad, the government is focused on developing the creative sector to fuel the nation’s economic growth. In his words, “the government is focusing its attention on developing the creative sector as an alternative means of boosting the nation’s economy.”
While the government is tapping into creative areas for national economic purpose, individuals are writing new histories by exploring the new gold mine. Young men are putting their ideas to test in new fields. Woke ladies are honing their skills to improve the quality of life in their environment. This has led to a surge in the number of creatives in Nigeria.
Art in Nigeria has benefitted from the new development, particularly in the area of dynamism and breadth. New faces appear on Nollywood platforms every time. The music industry welcomes aspiring greats every day, the world of fashion is spinning to accommodate new players. The same thing happens in the fields of architecture, craftwork and other creative ventures.
Interestingly, a good number of these creatives have come from the direction of private universities. There is no data to quote but there is enough evidence to establish the fact that there is a wave of private university products sweeping across the creative industry. Institutions like Covenant University, American University of Nigeria and Babcock University are exporting their products to the different departments of the Nigerian creative industry.
The music industry for instance, is changing its form to welcome an artiste like Nonso Amadi. The Covenant University graduate appeared on the scene as only a “good voice” but he has since managed to convince millions of fans with his talent and he has built an attentive audience for his music. Native Magazine once credited him for flipping the script of breakout artistes in the Nigerian music industry. For the alternative music sensation, becoming a mainstream star now looks more like a matter of certainty than curiosity.
By amassing hundreds of thousands of followers across social media platforms and with a mass of devoted viewers for her skits, Maraji has become such a huge deal in the entertainment industry. She is building a following of fans whose ribs she cracks with her comical presentation of some of the society’s underlying happenings. Her business is an unconventional one, but it perfectly fits into the idea of creative exploration. Like Nonso Amadi, her steps can be traced back to the institution located in Ota, which has now become a training ground for society influencers.
Some of the major moves in the field of photography are been made by Emily Nkaga. The 22 year old photographer and filmmaker, has captured some memorable moments and documented scenes from top Nigerian entertainment events. The graduate of American University of Nigeria has hit her stride in the Nigerian creative sphere. Her brilliance has produced stand out art materials which she has turned into a social tool. She made a bold move with her photo-documentary of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North-eastern Nigeria. The project got rave reviews and her intention to share the narrative of people displaced by Boko Haram attacks, has earned her several commendations. In 2014, she received Nigerian Teen Choice (NTC) Award for the most outstanding female in photography to attest to her prominence in the Nigerian creative industry.
Adenike Adegboye is another active player in this trend. The Babcock university graduate founded the popular ‘Demure by ‘Denike brand and her rich repertoire have caused her to occupy a leading position in her field – the field of fashion where the likes of Derin Febikun and Sandra Tubobereni are also shiny examples. These two brilliant fashion designers are products of the private university system. Each one of them heads a promising female fashion brand. Derin Fabikun was in fact nominated in the category of top female fashion designer at the 2016 ELOY awards, while Sandra Tubobereni (TUBO), a graduate of Madonna University, is a respected creative figure in the field of female fashion in Nigeria. Her clientele includes top female icons across different industries.
Interestingly, these creatives share some common traits. Asides from the fact that they were all born in the 90’s, a good number of them have been exposed to the best of creative operations and they often leverage on their exposure to make moves and decisions that eventually turn into a mass of success. Emily Nkanga for instance, interned with a top photography brand like Orbit Imagery where she was involved in several big projects before adding the experience of being mentored by ace talent manager, Osagie Osarenkhoe of The Zone Agency. At the point of setting out to fly her brand, Emily Nkanga had mastered the art of comprehension and cultivated thinking which she has employed repeatedly in her success journey.
Nonso Amadi spoke on what new age creatives need for exploration during an interview with Ndani TV. He highlighted funding, parental support and proper platforms as important factors in helping young creatives successfully explore their field. I believe proper platforms could also translate into exposure, which is a primary ingredient for creation. Although in the world of creatives, parental support is not always present. Creatives are often times misunderstood, especially at the early stages of their creative life. People often ask questions of their intention, their drive and their purpose for choosing to live a “weird” life.
Saul Alinsky gave an answer to these questions in his book, Rules of Radicals. He described creatives who reject the traditional life pattern; instead they have made resources out of the load of information and facts available in today’s world, to create a way of life that has some meaning to them. Troops of creatives, especially products of Nigerian private university, are opening new doors, breaking new grounds and reaching for new heights.
The clouds are gathering for the Nigerian creative industry. New elements are taking form and new grounds are being covered. A new class of creatives, who share a common trait, are earning the right to sit in driving positions to lead Nigeria to a future where art and invention is considered as important to the nation, as crude oil is today.
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets