In Conversation with Victoria Olajide
Posted in Neem Tree Blog on August 11, 2021
Victoria Olajide founded TVOTRIBE in July 2019, a Pan-African community building culturally aware creatives in Africa and in the Diaspora. Olajide started this venture on her own and has since expanded her team and community to more than a thousand creatives all from diverse spaces with varying interests. TVOTRIBE recently celebrated their second anniversary with a range of activities focusing on one central theme: “The African Creative; Carving Your Identity.” Olajide talks to us about this event as well as the importance of remaining culturally aware within the publishing industry. She says “I believe that the most important aspect of sharing diverse stories is identifying how individual stories connect with others, and how this creative rhyming unites humanity.”
As a poet, author, and editor can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
My name is Victoria Olajide, I am a creative writer, storyteller and social entrepreneur. Writing for me was an intentional journey towards self-discovery. I started writing professionally in 2018. Even though I started out with my blog in 2016, I could not exactly picture myself as one who would take on writing as a career. I got into writing for leisure, sharing content on my then BlogSpot website that just reflected how I perceived life at the time. However, my creative journey was initiated by writing and has helped navigate my identity. I would say that writing is the foundation of everything I have become.
You founded the TVO tribesmen writers’ community, how did you find the process of creating this community. What were some challenges that you had to overcome?
TVOTRIBE is a community for and of storytellers. I would describe the process as a strong process of learning and becoming. I have been able to understand stories in a different perspective (via actively communing with storytellers).
Building this space was a technical process and was quite challenging because we kept evolving and I had to expand my mind, ideas, the team, financial capacity and so much. Beyond that, I was a female entrepreneur and I had some gender stereotypes flashing at me.
I want TVOTRIBE to be the global system where creatives can communicate Africa’s existence in the most cultural way possible and African writers can express themselves much more and envision much more for their continent. I hope to be an entrepreneur who would empower women and African Creative communities.
Can you give us more insight into how you funded this platform and what its growth trajectory has been like over the last 3 years? e.g. How many authors and creatives have signed up and how will you market and grow the collective?
TVOTRIBE kicked off on the 19th July, 2019 and It’s been two years of collecting, sharing and promoting African stories and storytellers.
I managed major expenses by myself. Some would come from little writing opportunities I got. Starting out, I would create designs. send emails and do most of the work by myself. However, later in 2019 five of my friends joined the team. They would help with most of the work, voluntarily. At that time we had less than 50 people join the WhatsApp community and very little on other spaces.
Right now we have more than a thousand creatives on the tribe. From diverse spaces and with varying interests. We have a team of about 21 volunteers, an advisory board (which are patrons and mentors, we call them Elders), Media and Publicity Partners across Africa, 10 awarded creatives, various literary publications on writing, reading, publishing and so much more.
We plan to have more than a million creatives sign up from every country in Africa. And we are constantly growing, teaching, collecting stories towards promoting community.
We have monthly literary engagements with creatives in our community and we have had sessions with publishers (Eleventh House Publishing, Shallow Tales Review) and great storytellers within Africa.
We plan to reach more creatives, and open them up to greater opportunities in the coming year.
I’d love to know more about your creative venture with TVOTRIBE, can you tell us more about this and how what inspired you to create this platform?
TVOTRIBE is a literary community created to expand ideas relating to culture, community and pan-Africanism. Beyond these core reasons for creating the tribe, we want to have a mixed society with diverse perspectives and ideas that will be able to mediate through conversations and focus on the core essence of being African. The tribe started as a conglomeration of creatives like me. And is really a platform with a spiritual sense of community – which I needed at the time, to improve ideas and focus on the African narrative. I created what I couldn’t find, with the tribe.
In building this Pan-African community of culturally aware creatives in Africa and in the diaspora, what has been the more important aspect of sharing stories from an array of different writers.
Storytelling is fundamental to the Human experience. And Narration or foretelling can only be comprehensive or better told by a well-equipped narrator. Storytellers layer words, meanings to their story, surviving in a wide array of literary themes; they pass on words with the hope that an audience would find meaning in this strong convocation of letters. Literature explores identities and even beyond the story we want to find a position for the storyteller. A unique multiuniverse where individual identity beyond the characters matter. And with this chore of identifying the narrator comes understanding the cultural background and selective status of this person. I believe that the most important aspect of sharing diverse stories is identifying how individual stories connect with others, and how this creative rhyming unites humanity.
How important is it that people remain culturally aware of others? How can people achieve this? In what ways can the publishing industry improve on their representation of African communities?
It is indeed peremptory that everyone tells their own story. Various cultures intersect with peculiarities from different angles and families. However, we must remain intentional about being culturally aware. Because it is easy for us to reduce or ignore the impact cultural difference has on thought, perception and living in its entirety.
Literature, Communication and Collaboration can help achieve a culturally aware society. Reading works from a diverse group, exploring art and philosophy. Because we cannot exactly “travel the world” to understand every society, but digesting materials from various sources helps.
Publishing industries can help improve by supporting African Authors and their diverse narratives. It will help minimize cultural myopia, and expose true, relevant African narratives to a large audience.
Congratulations on the second anniversary for TVOTRIBE. What have you been most proud of during this journey, and can we expect any upcoming events soon?
Thank you! It’s a bright moment for us at the tribe and we are excited about this season.
I’ve been so proud of the encouraging support from literary agencies within the literary space, my resilient team (working through a very short time period), the immerse support of the Tribe elders and how we are -in the process of planning the anniversary- sustaining narratives and creating bold memories.
Yeah! Our anniversary event – TVOTRIBEVERSARY 2021.
TVOTRIBEVERSARY 2021 would shine a spotlight on top and emerging creatives from various creative niches, to showcase their art, tell defining stories and share unforgettable experiences.
This event would also put light on defining historical moments of the past year 2020, with mentoring and education, as its core element.
Our theme: “The African Creative; Carving Your Identity”, will focus on education and mentoring, with a view to instilling African creatives, with the consciousness of who they are or who they should represent. Featured Activities include: “The Identity Series – A DOCUMENTARY”, OPENING SUMMIT Event and BREAKOUT SESSIONS.
For more information please visit (www.tvotribe.com/anniversary)
Connect with us online @tvotribe on all platforms.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Arts of Being Yoruba by Adeleke Adeeko at the moment. It is a collective documentary and array of essays sharing vastly how humanity connects with Yoruba aesthetics.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
I quote, Prof. Wole Soyinka;
“I don’t see any other responsibility for a writer, beyond expanding the horizon of his/her community of humanity.”
Understand that Africans and Humans thrive in a network of stories. Share your story because storytelling is a big part of sustaining relationships and defining society. Whatever path you take, become a storyteller; slowly sipping every nib of that story. You have the power to define humanity with your words.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with Neem Tree Press, Victoria!
For more information on TVOTRIBE click here: https://tvotribe.com/
Find Victoria on Twitter: @TheVictoria_O
TVOTRIBE Instagram: @tvotribe
TVOTRIBE Twitter: @tvotribe