Gbemi Shasore :‘We have observable evidence of a decline in reading culture’
Africa is in fact the most under-published continent in the world. In Nigeria, we need to encourage reading and importantly writing. There are talents out there that we hope we can expose and promote into the life-changing acknowledgment of being published, or at least recognised as writers
Gbemi Shasore is the Executive Publisher of Quramo Publishing Limited, an indigenous media company committed to producing quality content for its diverse audience. She is also the owner of MainEvents and Campaigns Limited, an event management company. Both are based in Victoria Island, Lagos.
She is nationally noted for her social and voluntary works where she advocates individual and corporate social responsibility. She serves on a number of advisory boards of non-governmental organisations especially the International Women’s Society (IWS), where she has served in various capacities including being at a time the society’s 50th President.
She is the Executive Director of Access to Knowledge [A2K] a charity organisation dedicated to increasing knowledge and education accessibility in Africa, particularly for the girl- child. She founded the Simi Johnson Trust for the advancement of women and children in Nigeria, and has served in various capacities in the international society-community particularly with Zonta Club International.
Gbemi is also one of the founders of Lagos Preparatory School, Ikoyi one of Africa’s leading British curriculum preparatory schools in Lagos. A long time patron of the arts, she has produced, to wide acclaim, the stage plays – A Past Came Calling and Ajai The Boy Slave. In April of this year, she launched The Quramo Writers’ Prize – a one-of-a-kind writing competition for undiscovered and unpublished writers. After months of judging, the award unveiling is slated to take place on October 2. She is married with three children and lives in Lagos. In this interview, she talks about the upcoming literary award ceremony and her motive for organising it.
By Nike Sotade
You’ve always belonged to service clubs/organizations. What motivates you to always want to render voluntary and social service?
You’re right, I have taken up significant roles in what we call the development and volunteer sector in the form of societies and non-governmental organisations. The motivation is service. Don’t forget that space is public service and, as we say, public service is a calling, not a job!
As the Executive Publisher at Quramo Publishing, kindly share with us your aims, goals and achievements.
Personally, I have always been involved in production, whether it is event production, stage production, or content production through publishing; so this is a continuation.
As a company, our aim is to provide quality content through our value-added service, content that can enrich African lives. We see publishing as a social enterprise, one that is motivated by high values which includes money of course, but not just and not only cash profit. We will publish a variety of content in several consumable ways. Books are an important component of that goal.
With regards to your project: The Quramo Writers’ Prize Awards that is taking place on Monday, what informed the organisation of the competition?
We have observable evidence of a decline in reading culture. Furthermore, Africa is in fact the most under-published continent in the world. In Nigeria, we need to encourage reading and importantly writing. There is talent out there we hope we can expose and promote into the life- changing acknowledgment of being published, or at least recognised as writers.
Kindly give us a sneak peek into what is going to happen at the award ceremony
You will see, hear, and read about talented writers being introduced to the public. Other awards celebrate published works. This is important because it focuses on a much-neglected sector.
Do you think Nigerians still have the reading culture in this digital age?
There is no doubt modernisation has affected how we read, but reading and books have survived the early disruption. So reading is not going anywhere at all. We in Nigeria still have a great desire for knowledge and entertainment that reading provides.
How do you intend to revive it?
The revival has begun. We are reinventing our devolved content to the public. Besides delivering hard copy books, we took the pioneering step of creating an app called QReeda, which you can download for free from the Google Store and gain to access our titles as e-books. The opportunities are endless.
Why do you think reading books is essential?
Reading expands the mind and builds people. All great societies read, we cannot be an exception.
You also produce stage plays. Why this passion for drama?
I’m a serial producer as I said, producing plays expresses, entertains, enriches and educates in art form. Books are the same. We produce books too!
Which interesting book have you been reading of late?
Secret Places by Vivian Kay published by Qlife – yes it is one of our titles.
What are your goals in five years?
My goal is to be remain a leader in whatever I do. Adding value to my community, country and mankind.
You are also a very stylish person. What’s your definition of style?
That’s simple- comfort but outstanding. I’m very comfortable with who I am which is unique to me, so my style must be comfortable and personal to me.
With your busy schedule, how do you juggle your time?
It’s a nightmare but I cope, I think because I enjoy what I do so much I am able to cope.
Any word of advice for younger women who look up to you?
Hmmm…. Younger women, younger than me that is, I’m still young!!!… I would say, think about the choices you make in life because everyday and everyday is so connected with everything. Be prayerful and trust in God always.