I started this year as Arts Manager with the Nigeria office of the British Council, the UK Government’s cultural relations arm. I joined the British Council in November 2011 after completing my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. NEXT, the newspaper from where I got a study leave to go to the UK in 2010 (and where I worked as Features Editor, Editorial Board member, and columnist) had closed shop, and the British Council was a welcome arrival.
It was a good year, working in the Nigerian arts space, where I feel very much at home — arts and culture coverage was one of the things I enjoyed most at NEXT, writing profiles of fashion designers and musicians, book reviews, travelogues, and event reportage — for one of the most global organisations in the world.
Now it’s time to move on. I’ll be leaving the British Council this week, after 13 months. 13 months of exciting activity: working with the rest of the Arts team (in Lagos and London) and a range of external partners/funders to plan and execute everything from international musical collaborations to arts-focused ‘Hackathons’ to aborted concerts (a musical concert in Lagos sadly disrupted by an onstage accident) to a 3-week showcase of Nigerian arts and culture during the London 2012 Olympics to an investment conference focused on Nigeria’s burgeoning creative economy.
I’ve met lots of great people (colleagues, artists, administrators), learnt a thing or two about why budgets matter, why there can never be too much stakeholder-communication, and about the complications and cycle-of-highs-and-lows associated with managing projects of any size.
Great memories also — one that stands out is sitting with King Sunny Ade at the Federal Palace Hotel one midnight at the end of June to discuss his musical collaboration with UK jazz musician Byron Wallen. I had waited hours for him to finish performing at a party in Lekki. Sitting on a tour bus in London, listening to him recount a hilarious episode involving a Nigerian Oba (who will go unnamed), fish ‘n chips ‘n fotografers (in 1970s London) also stands out.
On the whole I look back to the year I turned 30 with satisfaction.
Noew, 2013 beckons.
This is what I hope and plan that the new year will be full of — writing, travelling, teaching and consulting.
And the toughest task of all, finding a way to make money doing those things.
In 2012 I wrote as much I could. A selection of my published work appears below.
In 2013 I intend to write even more. The plan is to do that full-time (whatever that might mean). I’m interested in many things: Lagos, Nigerian History, social+digital media, Nigeria’s investment landscape, arts+culture, fiction, poetry, emerging cultural and technological trends, satire, the future of journalism, etc etc).
And read (a sky-high pile of books on everything from fiction to poetry to Nigerian military history to the banking crisis of 2008/9)
And travel. Across Lagos, Nigeria, and Africa, especially. (In March I’ll be speaking at the Global Art Forum in Doha, Qatar, on how writers and artists are shaping Lagos).
And speak/teach. (Starting January I’ll be teaching writing at the (new) Modern Day School of the Arts, in Lagos).
And consult. social media, digital marketing, communications planning. I’m interested in how companies – small and large, old and new – can adapt to a social-media(ted) world, and take advantage of the opportunities the internet offers for communicating with their myriad stakeholders. Watch this space for more news on that front.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
2012 Writing (selected)
Financial Times (Investing in Nigeria 2012 Report)
The Economist’s Africa Blog
Wings Magazine (the inflight magazine of Nigeria’s Arik Air)
Poetry Review (2 poems)