The Pen and The Sword is a Praxis series of conversations where Nigerian writers reflect on what it really means to be a writer and explore how writing and indeed, writers, can influence change in the country, especially in the midst of the many killings and abductions going on.
Kukogho Iruesiri Samson (KIS) posits that ‘The role of writing, and writers by extension, in a society is not only to entertain but also to educate, socialize and, like journalism, set the agenda for discourse. Where writers, by design or unknowingly, refuse to recognize their potential as social agents and when they fail to realize that their writings can achieve a lot, beyond the callings of mere art, they abdicate their role.’ He believes that cautiousness and creativity will go a long way in instigating change through writing, ‘As such, a writer, especially in a society like Nigeria, with diverse cultures and perspectives, must be carefully creative when expressing because a piece of writing lacks the power of continuous conversation – the reader does all the interpretation without getting an explanation from the writer. To influence change, a writer must, therefore, understand the dynamics of his/her society and find creative ways to touch on these, not by being preachy or condemnatory, but by being creative and deliberately conscious of the keen edges of prevailing sentiments. Simply put, we need literature of reorientation.’
KIS also believes that writing, if consciously done, is enough, ‘Writers, in Nigeria, often are professionals in other fields. So, yes, it may actually stop at writing for most. Others can extend their advocacy beyond the pages of books. But writing consciously is often enough.’ But should a writer’s craft then be an adequate reflection of the happenings in her environment? KIS explains that ‘Not all writings are reflective of the writer’s immediate environment, take fantasy and sci-fi novels, for example. Therefore, it cannot be expected that EVERY writer must write about the immediate environment and experiences.’
To stir change within his immediate environment, KIS, however, believes that ‘encouraging the culture of writing and self-expression is fundamental and that is where I have focused my attention. For over half-a-decade I have been supporting young writers, discovering and developing their talents. I believe this is key because only well-guided writers can eventually develop into socially conscious writers. Again, not many people know that the need to express is one of the main needs of a human being and when this need to express is not satiated, there is often a negative outburst that the society suffers from.’
Kukogho Iruesiri Samson is the Founder/CEO of Words Rhymes & Rhythm Publishers Ltd – an educational and publishing firm. A multimedia journalist and youth mentor known for his work with young Nigerian writers and the promotion of Nigerian writing, KIS (as he is popularly called) is the author of four poetry books including What Can Words Do and I Said These Words. He is the 2018 winner of the Dusty Manuscript Prize contest, for his upcoming novel, Devil’s Pawn.