July is now one of my favourite months. It is the most significant month for Agbowó. On July 22, we will release the second edition of our yearly magazine, themed Limits. We have received amazing submissions from diverse African countries. We are enthused by the quality of works sent, and that these amazingly creative people have trusted us with their works.
Why is this a significant step for us? Last year, our magazine was simply a collection of works that had been published on our online literary journal, agbowo.org. We simply presented it in another format. Yet, it was an important step, and people embraced the magazine as if the works were completely new. One of my exciting moments was when I attended a literary event in Lagos and met this very excited lady who spoke so highly of the magazine and even remembered some of the writers and titles in the magazine. Who remembers Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah?! Great writer but easy to mispronounce name for me. And then she said Petitioning Christ. Her friend had shared the magazine with her via mail and she frantically searched for it again. The magazine equally impressed another budding writer who soon sent her works for publication on the literary journal. It felt very different from the online accolades we received, because I could see that reaction for myself and knew our work was important. Ours is not the first African literary magazine, but few (or almost none) have built the kind of credibility that has made their American and European counterparts revered and darlings of creative people around the world, including Africans. That is the level of excellence we aim to operate and even more.
This year, we did a call for entries with a specific theme. We received works from almost all the regions in Africa. Our editors have had a lot of work to do, especially since we also continued to receive submissions for the online literary journal, which is open throughout the year. By now, we have finalized on most entries, and are now working on producing something amazing from the awesome works that have been sent to us. We cannot wait.
July 22 is also the day we get to unveil new steps we are taking at Agbowó in building platforms to provide global access for creative Africans. We are making this a yearly tradition. While we are gradually building our literary platforms, we hope to do more. We want to build tools to help creative Africans create new works, while also building platforms for them to reach their audiences across world with their creativity. More importantly, we want to help them capture the value they are creating. Everything we do is on this canvas.
We are still very early in our journey, and we are still unraveling our purpose. Late last month, I had another long conversation with Moyo, who leads Agbowó, about recent developments in the literary community. At the end of that conversation, the importance of our work became more obvious and our purpose clearer. We could see why our platform was necessary and why we needed to do more; especially in setting new standards that improve the lives of creative Africans.
Last year, we made it our goal to start an events arm to bring live art experiences to people. Our goal was also to build a community of creative people sharing their works, lending their voice to important conversations and building a network. We went out to acquire arts initiative, ArtsnChill. We can say that move has shown early promises that we hope we can build on. While we took our time to have our first event few months after the acquisition, we have successfully sold out our tickets for our first two events and we already have new collaborations in the pipeline for June and July events. We also got funding support to cater for part of our expenses for our events later in the year from German cultural organization, Goethe Institut. We are working to get more funding to support our programs. While there is still a lot of improvement we need to make to our events, we believe we are heading in the right direction. And we are doing this with very lean resources, and using lean strategies.
As we countdown towards July, our team is working to add to the platforms that help us serve creative Africans better. Our journey has been gradual, but we have been growing. Our team has grown to 15 amazing and committed people who are just as enthusiastic about African art. That connection means our team is a small community on its own working together to create platforms for the larger community. We are proud of what we hope to accomplish.
While our world continues to grow technologically, we see the role of art in this increasingly mechanized world. There is the rising need to improve man’s utility and efficiency, but it is art that helps us connect with our souls, with our humanness, and sparks those emotions that make us who we are. Thus, our goal is to empower creative Africans across diverse forms to create art and help them reach the hearts of people who are looking for more ways of becoming better versions of themselves. While we do this, we hope to create and capture enough value for our company and the art community.
July is coming! Keep watch!
Please visit agbowo.org to learn more about our work.
Follow @agbowoart on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
There is something special about seeing your stuff live, beyond the online thing. I was excited to stand in front of this physical representation of Agbowó’s progress.