At the five storied, digitally and environmentally enhanced Seoul Metropolitan Library, there are no publications on or about Nigeria, and fewer publications on the rest of Africa. In a compartmentalised shelf, at a section of the library set aside for African publications, readers will find about 60 publications on Egypt, a fair amount of publications on Sudan, lesser number of publication on Kenya, and zero publication on Nigeria.
The absence of reading materials on Nigeria for Koreans in the city library is not as a result of the lack of publications on the subject matter. In fact, there are a few contemporary publications on Nigeria, which are a result of cultural and bi-lateral relations between both countries.
A good example is From Here To There, a two-editioned, poetry anthology that is a collaborative effort between the Korean Culture Centre, in Abuja, Nigeria, and the Arojah Concepts, a subsidiary of the Arojah Royal Theatre, based in Abuja, Nigeria.
The publication forms part of the organisation’s celebration of the World Poetry Day, as well as the eight years of cultural partnership between KCCN and Arojah Concept.
The anthologies, according to the Arojah Concepts, Artistic Director, Jerry Adesewo, “are based on chosen themes each year, that often times, focus on Korean artists and themes, they are bilateral in nature, and had the first edition published in Korea.”
With a third anthology scheduled for publication next year, with over 120 poems from different poets, Adesewo said plans are also ongoing to introduce children’s publication same year.
Two years ago, former Cultural Specialist and now programmes officer, Meeyoun Ji with the KCCN, published a handbook, that serves as guide on the performing arts scene in Africa, which Nigeria featured in. The publication, entitled African Continent Performing Arts & Theatre Information, provides information, on active theatres and performing spaces and recent and popular productions in randomly selected Africa countries.
Ji’s objective with the publication is to “motivate an indirect investment in culture via its provision of reliable information on Africa’s performing centres for some theatre institutions in Korea; especially those with annual programmes, that can benefit from government’s many support programmes for the culture industry.”
Indeed, it will make for a greater and enriched cultural experience and future collaborations between Nigerian, African and Korean artistes.
As the world becomes more globalised, such contemporary publications will increase, and rather than being ignored, the aspect should be explored to the benefit of both nation’s publication industries.
Having got to work on the subject, the Indonesian Embassy, in collaboration with African students in Indonesia, and the Abuja Writers Forum (AWF), are embarking on a new partnership to collate and publish stories of African students in Indonesia, as well as encourage literature exchange between both countries via the translation of winning short stories collection with the AWF to Bahasa and English Languages.
Nigeria and Korea can follow Indonesia’s example, and employ literature, according to English writer, George Orwell, for the purpose of which it was best created, to know the “ordinary people”, “flesh out the humans behind the statistics,” and, to foster better understanding between peoples and cultures.