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Ara @ 45: Reflections On Nigeria’s Creative Industry

Ara @ 45: Reflections On Nigeria’s Creative Industry

By Tope Olukole
As Ara, an A-list Nigerian artiste and Africa’s first female talking-drummer to thrive on world stage marks her 45th birthday, we use the special occasion to survey the state of Nigeria’s creative industry. Does such an industry actually exist in Nigeria?
Ara represents millions of Nigerian females who are endowed with outstanding creative talents and who work stoically to succeed in an economy whose provisions for the arts is cause for relentless debate and unwavering demand for genuine and sustainable improvement.
Art is of many forms. It is deep and expressive. The abstract world is the source of all that exists as reality on the temporal plane. Artistes are human channels through which the all-containing abstract realm delivers its enlightening messages to the temporal world where they are skillfully transformed into tangible forms for profit and non-profit in the right policy and institutional environment.
Ara’s art-form is percussion (drumming). Her unique medium is the Yoruba Talking Drum. Ara is a dexterous Talking-Drummer who has over 25 years active presence on stage. Her wealth of experience in the use of percussion to thrill and educate audiences across the globe is an asset that Nigeria should be tapping into in the best interest of its high-potential entertainment economy – a commercial turf that can very well enrich the Nigerian economy in many ways lucrative.
Truth must be told, Nigeria has wasted tons of creative Nigerians. Obviously, the wastage persists till this day as a testimony against repeated promises and declarations made by the leadership of Nigeria to build a befitting industry that will effectively support Nigerian artistes to excel on the strength of their talent, from the sweat of their strive. It is worth stating that the excellence that Nigerian creators of entertainment-content and its likes are capable of producing is still trapped in the lingering absence of relevant and critical resources in their country.
Where creators are not protected to earn commensurately from their work, they are de-motivated by the unbridled theft of income due to them by pirates and other shades of intellectual property thieves. Where creative minds suffer, creativity can only achieve stunted growth; at best, setting society back as a result. Artistes are bearers of enlightening and empowering messages from the governing abstract dimensions of life. Where creators’ creative-rights are unprotected, creators are discouraged. Consequently, society is denied the guiding and inspiring light of their talent, causing society to lack the far sight and deep sapience it needs to soar.
Ara is well-known for her great talent on the Talking-Drum because other countries like the United States Of America supported her to succeed. Such countries have in-place world-class and globally competitive legal, policy and institutional provisions that process genuine talents from raw enthusiasts to glittering icons. The shining stars directly and indirectly add premium value to the growth and glory of the overall economy that provides for their powerful talents. This is a primordial and indelible fact!
As you read this write-up, South Africa provides Nigerian artistes platforms to expose their works to the world, by which that country earns the income that ought to be accruing to Nigeria! Basically, Nigerian talents are enriching South Africa (and several other countries) with their creative capital. Professor Wole Soyinka is a globally celebrated Nigerian not because Nigeria provided an environment conducive for him to so succeed. Professor Soyinka is a beneficiary of economic systems that recognize and respect intellectual power as an indispensable asset for societal enhancement and for continuous national transformation in the positive and profound.
Ara has inspired many female drummers in Nigeria to surmount gender and cultural barriers to boldly and respectably put their skills on display where needed and where sellable. But for Ara’s brave and pioneering effort at climbing the international stage with unwavering determination to excel with an art-form said to be a preserve for men, Nigeria would still have skilled female drummers imprisoned in silence and in obscurity, their great and lucrative talents wasting in the jail-house of old and limiting traditions.
At 45, Aralola Olamuyiwa is a dynamic pioneer whose never-say-die drive is on the road to another glorious destination in the performance and promotion of percussion. Initiated by Ara, World Female Drummers Festival will be holding its maiden edition in Ghana! The event will bring together female drummers from across the globe to entertain and deliver heart-moving messages of global peace, love and harmony.
The Festival promises to be an exhilarating experience of skilled female drummers from different cultures on one stage! At 45, Ara reiterates the imperative of eliminating deficiencies that deny creative Nigerians the opportunity to grow, earn and excel commensurately at home. Ara is an indigene of Nigeria’s Ondo State.

About Demola Abimboye