Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 25, July 1999 


New blood needed for indigenous African publishing

Damola Ifaturoti
Damola Ifaturoti is a Nigerian publisher working in the USA. 14-08 Deer Creek Drive, Plainsboro, New Jersey, NJ 08536, USA. Tel +1 609-7167224, fax +1 609-7167015, e-mail:

The Nigerian book industry has been dogged over the years by the lack of regeneration of mainstream publishing personnel. Every industry requires regular renewal of its key human resource base in order to adopt fresh and imaginative ideas and thereby adapt to the new technological developments occurring around the world. This is all the more crucial for the developing regions of the world in order to close the yawning gap between local industries and their counterparts in the developed nations.

With Nigeria's indigenisation decrees of the early 1970s, many of the country's major publishing houses (which had sprung from overseas parent companies) passed the mantle of leadership on to mainly indigenous marketing and administrative personnel hand-picked by the parent companies. Expertise in marketing rather than mainstream publishing was favoured and promoted. After all, the parent companies were naturally more interested in sales distribution of their overseas-produced books rather than in any serious all-round development of the local industry.

Many of these first-generation Nigerian executives remained firmly in place for the next three decades as the country's national economy went from boom to bust. Like their former colonial masters, they did not take any serious steps to train editorial and book production personnel, crucial for the survival of the country's budding industry. Instead they mimicked their old masters' policy, concentrating mainly on developing markets for overseas-produced products. As a result, professionalism in what may be termed the 'core sectors' of the book production process suffered tremendously. Editors and book designers were not adequately groomed and in consequence the skills and expertise required in these key areas underwent continuous decline over the years.

Meanwhile the recession of Nigeria's national economy from the 1980s severely handicapped the emergence of a new generation of indigenous publishers. Many second-generation publishing concerns disappeared from the landscape as quickly as they appeared. These included not only fly-by-night organisations but also serious, well-intentioned and potentially effective companies. The few managing to carry on business have done so operating under grossly inadequate conditions and in a chronically depressed business environment.

Fortunately a new dispensation is unfolding in Nigeria with the arrival of civilian democracy and the departure of a long and disastrous military interregnum which had crippling effects on both the national economy and the polity. As the state of governance in the country improves, help is needed urgently for Nigeria's local book industry. Promoting professionalism in the core sectors of the industry will facilitate the emergence of new generations in book publishing, encourage them to take on leading roles, develop the fresh ideas necessary for regeneration of the industry and end the stagnation which it has suffered for far too long.  [end]  [BPN, no 25, 1999, p 15.]

^^Back to top

Return to table of contents for BPN Newsletter 25, 1999>>

home about us news resources subscribe
newsletter forum search

© Bellagio Publishing Network 1999.

Go to Top Go to top
Go to top Go to Top