By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
Innocence is one of the qualities of a travelogue. It requires that a travel writer downplays the observed negative sides of the people he or she visited.
Mabel Evwierhoma, Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Abuja, made the submission at the ongoing 40th anniversary of the Association of Nigeria Authors in Abuja, themed “Resilience and Nation Building: The Role of Nigerian Literature” which began November 3 and runs till November 6, 2021.
The Chairman of the roundtable discussion on the travelogue genre, Dr Wale Okediran who is also a reputable travel writer, said a travel writer must be tolerant of other people’s culture.
Food, Dr Okediran said, is also an important factor in travel writing, because a travel writer should be able to eat whatever food that is presented to him or her, so as to win the confidence of those he has gone to visit and therefore get better stories and information from them.
But Okediran also advised that travellers who must eat whatever food that is put before them need to arm themselves with medicines like Flagyl (metronidazole) and tetracycline tablets in case of stomach upsets that may result from eating alien foods.
Money and good memory are also among the requirements for a good travel writer. The panellists, which included Dul Johnson, Professor of English literature and film studies and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Bingham University, highlighted the significance of travelogue, saying that through stories and literature generally, people visit places they have not been to and may never visit.
Contributing to the discussion from the audience, Mallam Al-Bishak of the Federal University of Lafia and a member of ANA in Nasarawa State, said good language and insight the travel writer brings into his or her narrative make a whole lot of difference.
The panellists advised travel writers to be wary of the hazards in travelling.
In addition, Dr Okediran shared his secret to getting around the problem of funding in travel writing. The secret, he said, is to utilize some of the time he has whenever he traveled for a conference. He said sometimes he may even decide to forgo breakfast, for instance, and use those one or two hours to pick up a taxi and ask the taxi driver to take him around the city.
You will be surprised what you will achieve with such one or two hours.” Taxi drivers all over the world, Dr Okediran said, are good conversationalists and therefore willing to give a travel writer more useful information than he or she may need.
The panellists agreed that in the present new digital age and era of online media, travel writers and travelogues are in high demand. They, therefore, encouraged gifted writers interested in the genre to pick up the gauntlet.