Nigeria is a country filled with diverse, resilient, intelligent, amazing, creative and terrific people. I want to celebrate that. I want to celebrate The Naija Spirit.
So on this Category, The Naija Spirit, I’d be having a conversation with Nigerians, whether they are in Nigeria or Not about themselves or about other topics including Music, Art, Football, Books, Pop Culture, Patriarchy, Politics, Religion, Friendship, Tribes, Buhari, Jollof Rice and all.
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On this episode, I have Sherif, an artist who recently published his book: From a Snipers Perspective, a collection of his poems.
Hi theanonymouscherif, tell us about yourself.
Sherif: My name is Sherif. I’m an artist (and what does that even mean in our world promoting the flotsam and jetsam as art) never at ease of a serial sensemaker or… What am I.
What do you do? What kind of artist are you?
Sherif: I’d like to believe I’m a multimedia artist but I find myself frequently listening to the arguments of writing, illustration and photography for custody rights of every exciting idea
What is literature to you?
Sheriff: I think literature is what validates our existence as a species.
How do you mean?
Sheriff: To be seen is to exist, as I read somewhere and this I think, is the primary point of literature — second being historicization (if that word exists)
What do you think is your duty to the world, as an artist?
Sherif: I would like to givethe top-of-mind response, which is “calling society out on its shit” but in my evolution as an artist I’ve discovered that sometimes my creations are solipsistic and sentimental givings about my inner circles based on the mood of the times.
So the society inspires your work then?
Sherif: Yeah. Sometimes taking on a light, satirical account of its behavior. Other times, going acerbic and sometime I just do art that gives me a hell of a puzzle trying to find personal/communal relevance. I think I like those ones the most.
You just published your first book? How exciting/terrifying was it for you?
Sherif: Very, of both adjectives.
To be sure, I had my fair share of the impostor syndrome that beleaguers artists. Choice of writings to include were highly problematic as I intended to get a balance between my favorites(what I think the world should hear) and my follower’s (what they want to hear).
I edited a lot of poems with other poems that never made the book. I’d love to call them martyr poem. I also had doubts about my ultra-minimalist style of writing which dangerously may pass as lazy before some. And also the emotionally naked poems. I may be a confessional writer but for some reason I can’t poke a finger at, I felt terrified including the “soft poems”
Did the poems come first or the book. I mean did you write the poems for the book, or did you write the poems before deciding to collect them into one?
Sherif: I did a series with the same title some 2 years back And sent it round to friends and those in my religious group. I wrote the poems before the title then. I continued writing after and somehow I maintained the title despite competition from other newly available ones
What inspired the title? And the book?
Sherif: I hardly ever know where my ideas come from. I just love to bomb my mind with ideas so it can work its magic with fuel provided. Sometimes, my analytical skills work back the process accurately I think it came from my habit of reflecting on the school hostel’s balcony. And often staring into the distance.
With a drink sometimes.
The title primarily existed as a line in a poem and also its title, with the clarity of hindsight, I adapted it to become the book’s title as I felt it symbolised perfectly who I was: an iconoclast, a bloke of edges and distance, who prefers succinct “firings”
The book was a project majorly in getting back at life/proving to myself I could do something good with my hands after a terrible spat
How Nigerian are you? Two habits you have that are a characteristics of a Nigerian?
Errr, not sure I know Nigerians too well
I’ve lived something of a laminated life and I have an adversarial attitude to the outside world so I socialise with my books, art paraphernalia and other trinkets of interest.
From remarks I’ve gathered on my choices, I don’t think I’m Nigerian enough.
Your favourite book? And why?
Sherif: I’m afraid I would have to slot in The Divine Reality by Greek Philosopher, Hamza Andreas Tzortzis and The Power of Mindful Learning by Psychologist Ellen Langer
The former for its lucid, non-constipating, elaborate articulation of a case for the existence of God– something I’ve barely seen among both Western and Eastern thinkers
The second book is included for reason for its mind-bending awesomeness. It invokes fear in the reader as to the sub-optimal level he/she has been inhabiting by refusal to pay attention to distinctions in theories, instructions, diagnoses and all It’s a total about-turn
Define Good Music using the name of a Nigerian Artist.
Sheriff: I’m torn between Boogey, Asa, Suspect and a couple but I’d just go with Asa (because Fela is no more)
2 advice for the Nigerian Youth.
Sherif: I’ve described Nigerian youth in the recent past as Press Play People: humans ever-ready to jump on the latest escapist act
Fad or whatever. Anything that withdraws the human from reflection
Going by this, I’d say we should spend more time building pocket spaces of reflection into our lives. And my second is to try to make writers, artists just as rich as the bullshiters they enrich.
Thank You Sherif.
You can find Sherif on Instagram on @theanonymouscherif, you can also get order his book from his page.