Marine Platforms’ succour for northern Nigerian writers
IT was Elnathan John, author of Born on a Tuesday, who put the argument in perspective when he said there is a need to bring conversations in the north into mainstream Nigerian narratives ostensibly for better understanding and holistic national discourse.
Indeed, not much tends to come from that region or understood, as a result of the culture and religion that appear opaque to those in the south. And it was his hoped that his book and several others coming from that part of the country would help unveil the ‘purdah’ that has tended to shroud it.
And as if to echo John’s position, an oil services company, Marine Platforms, has boldly stepped forward to give writing from the north a boost. It has as aim the integration of the cultural norms of the region as encapsulated in the writing, with fiction taking the lead, into national conversations. The company made its interventionist initiative known November year at Ake Arts and Book
Festival in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
Speaking on behalf of Marine Platform at the festival was Chief Fiance Officer, Marine platforms, Mr. Baji Nyam, who acknowledged the uneven access to educational facilities, particularly books, in the country and stated his company’s desire to bridge it.
According to him, “Because I work with an oil and gas service company, I have had the privilege of visiting and living in many Nigerian states. Without a doubt, there is unevenness in how much access children have to good books which encourage them to imagine different futures for themselves. I’m from Kaduna State and I know that my state and others in the north of the country do not have the depth of reading culture that they should.
“A few months ago, when Marine Platforms was thinking about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and how best to go about it, my colleague, Taofik Adegbite, bumped into Lola Shoneyin at a party and they got talking. In just a few months working with Lola, we have refined our goals. The work that Book Buzz Foundation (organisers of Ake Arts and Book Festival) does is closely aligned with our aims. We want to support children in Northern Nigeria”.
To achieve this objective, Marine Platforms has two important projects to execute. “Firstly,” Nyam noted, “early next year, we are going to start by rolling out 50 one-hundred-book libraries across Northern Nigeria so that when the children have their state-stipulated reading time, they will have beautiful, colourful books to dip into and get lost. Secondly, over the next few months, we intend to establish the Marine Platforms Reading Programme which will support writers from Northern Nigeria in the writing, editing and publication of their stories. We will do this by holding workshops and guiding the budding authors through the writing and publication process”.
For the brains behind Marine Platforms, “It is critical that the heritage, the history, the cultural norm, the joys and tragedies, the challenges and triumphs, the realities of everyday life for a Northern Nigerian man or woman living in Kaduna, Gombe, Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, Adamawa in 2015 is captured, told or interpreted for posterity. And what better way to do this than to put these valuable narratives between the front and back cover of professionally-edited and beautifully-illustrated books?”
He, however, corrected the erroneous impression that the north is bereft of any literary expression.