Something Resembling Progress

One of the most fascinating things for creative people is to see their thoughts morph into indelible art. Making things gives creative people joy. Building platforms where such joys are shared has been inspiring.

The birth of Agbowó (Agbowo.org) came at a time when we needed to answer questions around continuity. We had just successfully released the UITES WRITE Anthology Volume 1. The anthology was featured in national publications and received about a thousand downloads. In the stead to produce an excellent anthology, we (Dolapo Amusat and I) had built a team that could deliver. And sure the team did. As the dust settled, we fiddled with the idea of a second anthology and more, addressing a wider audience beyond students of the University of Ibadan.

The first UITES WRITE team. 

We came up with Agbowó. It was clearly ambiguous when looked at in context. It could easily have been named after the neighbourhood outside the University of Ibadan. We had even prepared a slogan to announce the end of UITES WRITE and the birth of this new organization through an announcement titled “We’re moving to Agbowó”. While that was a possible clue to our name, Agbowó actually referred to us being collectors of things of value- as we believed that art is of immense value. And that it was similar to the neighbourhood opposite the University of Ibadan was merely a happy coincidence.

Initial logo
Final Logo

Instead, we decided to run the two initiatives under a new body called Bamboo. Agbowó will gradually become an art company, while UITES WRITE remained the school-based initiative providing a platform for students to express their creativity. Moyo Orimoloye became the head of Agbowó while Kelechi Ogueji and Kunle Adebajo led UITESWRITE, while I worked closely with the two teams as a co-founder and member of the team. We all worked remotely and have had no physical meeting since that time. While we require little time commitment from the team members, members have been committed with the time they have had to offer and this has been what has driven our continuity. So far, we have tried as much as possible to ensure that those who are part of our team are people who care about the things we care about and more importantly can commit to doing the things we care about doing. In this, we have been careful not to compromise.

We are a team of people who love the arts and want to work together to provide platforms to support people who create art. The vision at Agbowó is to be the leading company that provides global access to creative Africans. Behind this vision is the belief that creative people can make great art that fulfils them and be greatly rewarded. They should not have to choose between these two. For this, we are taking our steps to build platforms that support our vision.

Agbowo X 

We have built an online art journal that has featured creative works from about 4 countries in Africa. We continue to publish literary works every month on our online journal. On August 4, 2018, we launched Agbowó X, our first digital magazine which was downloaded by about 1000 people in the first month. 

We are still at the periphery of our journey to be where we hope to be. What we know is that we are constantly evolving, constantly trying to be better for ourselves and the people we serve- creative Africans. Working with several constraints including a very limited budget, we are building processes that ensure we are efficient in delivering our work. We are doing this slowly, steadily and assuredly.

When we made the move to acquire ArtsnChill, it was a result of our testament to create platforms for African artists. ArtsnChill’s team would bolster our team to create offline events as we make our move to increase our impact. We carefully hope that this bet brings us closer to our goals. I cannot wait to see our plans come to life.

UITES WRITE

I am happy that we did not have to end UITES WRITE. Although, if there is any concrete reason for us to do so in future, we would not hesitate. Again, the truth is I will be happy to have this for as long as a 100 years.

UITES WRITE started after a series of BBM voicenotes between Dolapo and I in 2015 after I had proposed that we run an anthology on the back of a collection of poems that Dolapo had tried to do but which did not work out. I was in Umuahia and Dolapo was completing his university degree program. We did not meet until a few days before the launch of the anthology on August 13, 2016.   

On Monday, 24th December 2018, we announced our new leaders at UITES WRITE as we move to publish the fourth volume of the UITES WRITE anthology. For three years now, we have produced an anthology each year. The first was an anthology of poems, released in 2016, the second was an anthology of stories, released in early 2017 while our third was released in September 2018. With the new team, we can confidently look forward to another anthology in 2019 and maybe more. You can download all the anthologies at www.uiteswrite.org.

Over these years, we have got several commendations on our work especially from the literary veterans who have graced our pages while writing our foreword or introduction. Some of them are;

“If their names are not familiar now, it is because they are the future that has been birthed, wrapped in the shawls of verdant promise.”

Adam Abubakar Ibrahim
Winner, NLNG Prize for Literature
BBC African Performance Prize

“…this is a production of students of the university who are done waiting for the world to look exactly as they want it to be. Instead, they set out to create it with their own hands.”  

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún
(Winner, Premio Ostana Special Prize for Mother Tongue Literature)

“It feels like a breath of fresh air to have an initiative like this coming from a generation that some critics fear are too loud to appreciate quiet.”

Dr. Olayinka Egbokhare
Author, Dazzling Mirage

“Nothing prepared me for the pleasure, surpriseand significance of the short stories in this anthology. Not a few of them are bleak, taking a negative view of life. Some are satirical. But all, with the accompanying poems, make up the facets of a shining gem.”  

Ikeogu Oke
Winner of the 2017 Nigeria Prize for Literature

Our growth, at UITES WRITE and Agbowó, has been steady. Much of it has been our ability to keep going. One day, there is going to be an opportunity for a great leap. Our goal is to ensure, while consistently taking steps forward, that that opportunity finds us ready.

I look forward to the things we will do with so much excitement.


Habeeb X
Cofounder, Agbowó and UITES WRITE.

2 thoughts on “Something Resembling Progress”

  1. You are a promise gifted to this world at this time in history.

    May Agbowó become everything you hope it will become, and all the wonders you’re afraid to conceive of.

    Weldone!

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