Kaduna is back in the promotion of literature. My first literary visit to Kaduna was in 1996 during the ANA Convention. At that time, Kaduna used to be alive with literary activities. However, since Sheme, Umaisha, Diego, and Usho left that city, it has been a story of literary lull and absence until KABAFEST, YELF & HIBAF were born. Kaduna is the birthplace of Poetic Wednesday, I guess. This is how ANA plunged into relapsing fever in Kaduna State with the coming of new literary NGOs.
Meanwhile, Friday John Abba has gone AWOL, Emma Akut has been an unwilling midwife, and Usho Smith Adawa has abandoned the forte for royalty. One would think that Usho’s ascension into the influential allays of power would fortify our Kaduna tribe of the pen, but never. Well, Kaduna is not helpless; new platforms have since replaced the traditional ANA.
The phenomenal HIBAF is a product of the Open Arts Development Initiative curated by Sada Malumfashi in Kaduna. They recently went to adorn Kano with their latest edition. Kano herself lacks a grand, broad-based festival or literary initiative that brings in writers and artists from across the North or Nigeria.
So, how can ANA survive in the current literary atmosphere? It will survive if it plays the second fiddle. Perhaps the new ANA President must realise early that this is the new challenge before the Association of Nigerian Authors in Northern Nigeria.
KABAFEST, YELF, Poetic Wednesday, and HIBAF have revived the spirit of literature in Kaduna City after the departure of ANA. It will be difficult for ANA to have any foothold in Kaduna again, just like in most cities of the North. Also, there is HCAF and Ayamba Listserve in Kaduna as well. The Editor-in-chief of LITVO, a leading literary journal of interviews in Nigeria, resides in Kaduna. She Chairs the HCAF there.
It looks like young writers and artists in Northern Nigeria are on a rediscovery spree by initiating new literary and art platforms that earnestly dispatch ANA to 2nd and 3rd-class citizens of literary art administration in the region. Not just young writers but the old ones in previous ANA, who were pushed to the cliff to plunge into death prematurely, have rediscovered themselves and have either opened new platforms or reinvigorated their old ones for accelerated reach as independent entities of progress and development in art.
I marvel at how Mazariyya is churning out endless junior fiction titles into Nigerian society. Mazariyya was founded by Ahmed Maiwada, a fellow casualty of ANA, in 2007 or 2008. He is from Zaria, in Kaduna State
HIBAF is the new priceless phenomenon in Northern Nigeria, but the attendants at HIBAF are usually from across Nigerian cities. The drivers of HIBAF are the Malumfashis, and you could see some Poetic Wednesday elements diffusing into the HIBAF fold, which is not a bad idea. While KABAFEST may be on its way out because of the exit of the El-Rufais from Government House, Kaduna, HIBAF gives the potential for an enduring stay because individual art practitioners drive it.
The founders of Poetic Wednesday are young people who are growing along with their baby; however, they lack a substantive programme that is grand. With the coming of HIBAF, they seem clubbed into silence. I wonder why. They can be with HIBAF, but they should remember they have the Poetic Wednesday to grow, too.
Where is ANA Kaduna in all of these? Absent! What will ANA’s fate be in Northern Nigeria in the coming years? The recession will probably continue. Will Dr. Akanbi, the new president, allow the drift? We wait. I am writing this piece because of him. Otherwise, I would have gone to mind my business.
Take Gombe State for another example: Gombe State is either governed by Jewel Writers or Halima Factor, but Jewel is it. There is HCAF there as well. Bill Ward is growing and shooting up in Gombe as a new competitive platform for young artists. Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, and a few other states in that region have never been solid places for ANA. So, burial comes easy for her.
Minna may have played a significant role in wrestling for a prime spot in ANA for Northern Nigeria since 1988, but all seems to have gone now. The new face of Minna literature is the Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation, not just Minna but Northern Nigeria, which has an active spot in Nigeria. ILLEC is another face of Minna. There are MLS, NWF, and even Nigerlites Spoken Word artists.
Minna Book Club already boasts a formidable membership; it is the latest of Minna. Some of the most formidable ANA members have a new book development platform called Cooperative Writers in Minna, headed by Almamun Mallam. ANA in Niger has been left for unknown quantities of little significance in terms of activism and production. The current ANA president is a child of ANA Niger; therefore, it is in our interest that he be alerted to succeed.
However, in Minna, it is a war of existence and functionality for ANA. Art Muse Fair is Minna-based. Young writers in Minna already have platforms to exhibit their talents without ANA. In fact, ANA is more threatened in Minna than in any other city in Northern Nigeria.
Abuja is administered by countless art platforms that influence the community more significantly than ANA. Listing them here is needless; they are many. HCAF Abuja boasts of Nigeria’s most versatile teen authors to the point that other teen authors in Nigeria are registering with the branch. It is currently the most vigorous branch in the country. ALS, AWF, Dike’s poetry platform, Konya Shamsrumi, Splendors of Dawn…many.
ANA may be departing the cities of Northern Nigeria because of the new forces in town. These forces are more modern, active, and energetic and aim at more ambitious events than ANA’s traditionalism of recircling old order instead of promoting new strong voices that are conquering the world at its prime.
Therefore, the new national leadership of ANA has a task: halting the relegation of ANA in Northern Nigeria for accelerated writing development. Nobody loses anything in the region if they don’t because the alternatives are already racing away with people’s attention.
Today’s phenomenal Book and Arts Festival in Nigeria is more in the North; see SOBAFEST in Sokoto. ANA in Sokoto has been largely unserious, so Uchenna Emefile has ignited a new awakening with his Book O’ Clock Foundation.
Kogi is about to follow the trend of new literary initiatives that are not dependent on ANA once the Kobafest I am invited to takes place early in 2024. The new ANA President does not just boast of a platform himself in Imodoye Writer Enclave, but Ilorin has an incubating Book and Arts Festival. Only yesterday, Abdulrazak Salihu, a star boy of HCAF, informed me that he was heading to Imodoye Residency, which ANA would have believed in Abdulrazak as worthy of such status.
Benue has a formidable Book and Arts Festival, too. Ask Su’eddie for details. Isn’t Savhage one of the most formidable publishing houses in Nigeria today? Isn’t ANA supposed to have one of the biggest publishing houses in her writers’ village in Abuja? They don’t have!
In addition to Su’eddie’s efforts in Benue, we also have HCAF. Carl Terver has a formidable online journal. With such journals, young writers hardly need the ANA Review that doesn’t even have an online version. I am yet to see the link.
ANA is endangered in Northern Nigeria, and massive literary events like HIBAF would be the ones to kill and bury her without any stone thrown at her, or a shovel dug into the ground during the funeral procession.