‘The stomach always wins because survival in the poverty capital of the world is an everyday struggle’.

The reality is that many Nigerians can’t afford to buy books. In fact, books and products of art are viewed as HOBBIES and items that should be given out for free or for peanuts.

In a harsh economy, it is better to keep that N1000, N2000 or N3000 to pay for the next two meals or cook a pot of soup than to splurge it on a book.
The stomach always wins because survival in the poverty capital of the world is an everyday struggle.

Nigeria rewards only her politicians; the rest of the population have to work hard for their daily bread. Only a tiny portion of the almost non-existent middle class and the upper class can afford to buy books and patronize the arts. Unfortunately, however, the majority in this privileged class do not have any interest in arts or literature.
So the brilliant writer having published his book might find himself hawking it out of a wheelbarrow at street corners in frustration.

This explains why the cerebral young Nigerian writers have all fled the country and every day, more are hopping on the plane and flying out to the chilly comfort of the Western world where they can practice their craft and churn out materials for the Western paying audience.

The unpublished writer living in Nigeria faces a complete absence of endowment funds or grants for writing. He has to explore his options. He knows by now that that “Nice story” or “lovely poem”, etc, does not pay bills.

He should define his writing and know why he is writing. He should know the audience he is writing for.
He should DIVERSIFY*, become a freelancer, curate content, pick up a 9-5 job, acquire digital skills, learn a trade, take up a part time job, sell everyday items etc, to pay bills while still nursing dreams of publishing that bestseller.

If he is a student, he should not drop out of school, he should persist and get the certificate, because that certificate could be the SAVING GRACE for him in future.

He should burst of the literary bubble. He should UNDERSTAND that the WORLD does NOT REVOLVE ROUND HIM and his stories or poems. He should network with people and adapt his writings to accommodate and reach out to people who are not literature lovers.

He should get published on other platforms apart from the social media. He should ensure his name and samples of his works appear on Google Search engine.

He has to be smart because he is fighting a system that has already been programmed for him to fail.


Chiemelie Onyeka Michael.


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