NIGERIAN POETRY PROMOTERS NEED TO STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD - INTERVIEW WITH INTERNATIONAL PROMOTER TONY TOKUNBO FERNANDEZ
Tony Tokunbo Fernandez (TTF) is one of those exports from Nigeria giving the country good names all over the world with his exploits. The Poet cum award winning author is the founder of Africans in Diaspora; an organization he uses to connect Africans making exploits all over the world. He was in Lagos - Nigeria to hold his “Africa 4 U Awards” for Nigerian youths sometime last year. EGC was there to cover Photography.
We caught up with him again, recently, and made him bore his mind on certain issues. Enjoy the interview.
EGC: Can we meet you?
TTF: My name is Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez; I am an n International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . I am also The CEO of AFRICA4U and the Founder of Africans in the Diaspora. I have organized The Black History Month Celebrations at the UK House of Parliament for four years in a row (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016). I have also organized events in The UK, the U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Eastern Europe and Nigeria and have visited over 20 European Countries.
EGC: Apart from Poetry, what other creative genres do you do?
TTF: I also write short stories and inspirational proverbs in my spare time. I am currently working on a book of short stories at the moment and an inspirational book of proverbs.
EGC: What are the genres that you wish you could do well but are not presently?
TTF: None that I can think of.
EGC: You go to various countries holding awards for youths. What is the motivation?
TTF: Part of my mission as a Role Model is to be the change I want to see in society and to inspire the youths to believe that all good things in life are possible. The motivation for me, is to inspire new minds and make a difference to Life. I have organized award initiatives in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Eastern Europe and Nigeria, and in few days’ time, I will be organizing the first ever awards for African migrants in the history of Malta. My believe is that True leaders must always create paths for new leaders to follow, this is one the many basic secrets of nation building, and I will do everything I can to make a difference to life.
EGC: Tell us about your vision for Nigerian youths based on your international connection/network.
TTF: My vision for the Nigerian Youth is to inspire them each day to be the change they want to see in society, and to always think outside the box. I mentor many youths and many of them live in Nigeria. I want to be able to be in a position to create and develop many youth empowerment initiatives, not just in Nigeria but also in Africa that improves social well-being, creative confidence, and self-esteem for the Nigerian youths and African youths.
EGC: You live in the UK but you come back to Nigeria often, tell us the difference between how we do our poetry and how they do theirs.
TTF: Sometime it’s difficult to draw comparisons, especially for something like poetry. We need to remember that Poetry can also be very personal. Poetry feeds from a wealth and range of personal influences as well as many other factors. But in general, I do feel poets living in Nigeria apply more stylistic devices more to their craft and are more inclined to follow the rules.
EGC: What area would you advice Nigerian Poets to focus on more?
TTF: I would advise Nigerian Poets to keep writing, keeping feeling inspired but also to be always innovative in promoting their work. The power of social media and its various tools, platforms and strategies makes it much easier today in my opinion for Poets to stand out.
EGC: Who are your mentors?
TTF: Monir Arimoku and Steve Mulindwa.
EGC: Who are the Nigerian poets you hope to work with in the future?
TTF: That is a tough question; ask me in a year’s time.
EGC: What do you think Nigerian poets can do to help establish poetry as a mainstream entertainment in Nigeria?
TTF: Be more creative and always think outside the box. It would be great to see more Poetry festivals, more spoken word initiatives and the creation of more poetry clubs. It would be also nice to see, young Nigerian poets not just writing more books, but also launching more poetry CDS. I know there is a Poetry festival in Calabar where I come from, I am confident with more innovation and creativity, Poetry in Nigeria shall one day become a mainstream form of entertainment.
EGC: What do you do that is working for you in your organization that you will advise upcoming Nigerian promoters to work on?
TTF: Good things do not happen overnight; it is very important to invest time to build your brand and to create a brand that is reputable and that delivers. This is very important. I also advice promoters to be consistent in their line of work; reputation and trust does not happen overnight.
Standout out from the crowd, but also stand out from whomever you consider your competitors to be. As a promoter, always ask yourself three questions
1. What am I doing differently and what can I do differently?
2. How to I add my value to the service that I provide?
3. How would I like to be remembered?
EGC: What else should we be expecting from you soon?
TTF: I will be organizing The Africa4u Awards in Malta in the next few days, I also have a few international engagements this year. I will also be organizing The Black History Month celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for the fifth year in a row and I am currently working on two books.
EGC: Thank you for your time. -
TTF: You are welcome; please keep up the great work. You are an inspiration.