Osinbajo being welcomed to the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Lagos by Lola Shoneyin
By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, showed he has some creative talent in him on Friday when he regaled the audience at the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Lagos, with an inventive incident that happened when he was 10 years old.
“I really, frankly blame no one for my lot, except probably my mum. And I really might have been a modestly successful poet, but for a most traumatic incident that happened when I was about 10 years old.
“There was a girl in my class who I was quite certain at the time that I could give my life for. So I wrote her a lovely poem over a weekend; I wrote the poem on Friday and finished it on Saturday.
” And It was, if I may say so myself, a work of sheer genius. It ended with the dramatic words; “your warm embrace may be the last desire of my heart before I die!” Of course, there are those here whom I think may not think there is much rhythm in that but anyway!
“I tucked it in my school bag and looked forward with a heart filled with love for Monday, to present it to the object of my affections.
“My mum, while cleaning out the bag, found the letter, and all hell broke loose. Needless to say, she beat the poetic genius out of me that terrible, terrible afternoon.”
Osinbajo said he bore the injuries as a worthy suffering for his beloved as he found the best opportunity to give her a freshly written version of the poem on Monday morning.
“I turned away as she took the letter, I didn’t want to behold the sheer pleasure as she read it, but as I turned around, I noticed that she had actually handed the poem over to the teacher and she was pointing at me.”
He said that while his physical bruises had healed from that experience, his capacity for writing romantic poetry had been greatly diminished.
Many in the audience were literally moved by Osinbajo’s story. But it was all invented, he said.
“Did you enjoy the story? It was fiction. I wish us all a fantastical future,’’ he said.
Osinbajo said he was honoured to be in the midst of creatives who were probably the only occupational group that still has a reputation in the world today.
“Lawyers, for example, my profession, are the most maligned, descriptions ranging from scorpions to sharks and of course, politicians are the scum of the earth! So what sort of an image could a lawyer-politician like myself have?
Fantastical Futures is the audaciously inspirational theme of the Ake Arts and Book Festival.
The Vice-President posed questions if the artist has a responsibility to society beyond that of the ordinary citizen?
“Is there a civic tax payable on talent?
“Does the fact of your genius place upon you, a moral burden to attempt to use the powerful voice of your art to fight for the soul of the land, especially to fight for the soul of the land from whence you came?
“To take moral positions, are you by virtue of your intellect and creativity a moral agent? Or are you not? Can you or not be neutral?
“Can you be politically neutral? Can you, in the face of so much that needs to be done, poverty, deprivation, and injustice, stay politically neutral?
“Can Africa afford to have its best talents wearing halos of political innocence and saying “let us leave politics to the scoundrels?”
Osinbajo said that earlier in the year, the Federal Government established the Technology and Creativity Sector Working Group: a policy committee of Federal Government Ministers and Heads of Agencies with Creatives, Tech and Entertainment business owners.
According to him, the group meets to work on policy, including rules and regulations regularly.
“So, we do have now, a policy group, who takes into account the sorts of views that Creatives may want especially in formulating policy and that is so for persons of technology as well.
” So, I think there is plenty of room for expression, especially the way we want to see policies shaped that could affect our Creatives and could affect those involved in technology.”