We have heard of African writers dying in poverty. I do not expect they should be leaving any luxuries behind but just a dignified living they deserved. Said to be two of the very best African writers, Bessie Head and Dambudzo Marechera lived and died in poverty
There are millions of Africans living in Poverty so Why do I single out writers? Well If the writers are all gone then we are all dead. Chinua Achebe said the writer is a Teacher. Do we need Teachers? Some other South American leader refers to the writers as vertebrae of society; compare this with the words of the noted economist Professor Ojetunji Aboyade who said “Economics is the life blood of the nation”.
Even Economists like the Nobel laureate Joseph Stieglitz have won the European Literary prize so some Economists in trying to change society for the better have become Literary men. For its Literary qualities, I can point, for instance, to the stimulating speeches of the President of the African Development Bank , Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, himself an economist. Writers are purveyors of ideas so writers are crucial to development for without ideas there can be no development.
Writers are crucial to Democracy so far the best form of Government so I would suggest a collaboration between the pan African congress of Wrtiers and the African Development Bank not for” commercial writing” but to facilitate the development. Production , distribution and Archiving of African Literature. I would also suggest that the African Development Bank should have on board not only a writer but as well as a philosopher and an expert on religious studies These two disciplines of Philosophy and Religion have greatly influenced or pre occupied the minds of many African writers.
In the south American Country previously mentioned writers who turn 65 years and have written up to 5 books are entitled to financial support from the state for life.
The society some of us have inherited here in the west was built largely by writers, thinkers and Philanthropists.
I got to interact with some of the writers in Ibadan the publishing capital of Nigeria there I came to understand writers were writing not out to make money what they seemed to be concerned more about is recognition and a critical support. Francis Fukuyama remarked that History is about the struggle for recognition. Recognition drives History.
One of those Ibadan writers lost his mother to Breast Cancer so quite innocently I suggested a play about Breast Cancer but he retorted “I am not a commercial writer.”
Then American President Calvin Coolidge also remarked that “No one but a Block head wrote except for money”. But writers need to have their breakfast, lunch if not supper, and shelter and medicare and where necessary long term care. We need publishers who would serve African writers rather than exploit them. We need innovative ways of going about the problems of piracy and Writers need to be helped with whatever habits they have such that they fritter away the little funds they have.
We need to win some of the best brains in marketing to the advantage of book publishing. To the marketing men and women out there I would advice,taking a cue from legendary Steve Jobs s, that search themselves with respect to selling things like Sugared water. Africa is the last frontier for, book publishing, Book selling. Library development and reading promotion