Praxis Magazine Online is 5 Today! How it all started.


It was 2013 and the vision was clear but we needed a name. So I spent a few hours chatting with Shittu Fowora about it. After the initial back and forth, we didn’t agree on any name for the platform. By then, I was working with BM Dzukogi in Minna, helping him set up the film unit inside the Book Development Agency of which he was the Director-General. I was also directing a TV show, Face2Face, for NTA with the late Yekondunu. That day, I was with Dzukogi at the office and I promised myself that I wasn’t going to close from work without a name. Later in evening when I was about to leave, Dzukogi donated a couple of books for a public library that I was setting up in Paiko. One of the books had “PRAXIS” in its title and the word stuck with me. I looked up the meaning and immediately sent Shittu a message here on Facebook, hey I have the name! That’s how the name Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature came about.

But the magazine didn’t start operation because I didn’t have money. Based on the document I’d shared with Shittu and some web designers, I needed at least N350k to start. So the vision would be delayed for another two years.

Late 2014, I met Bitrus Lawrence through my sister Serah Shekwonya Tukurah. I shared my vision for Praxis with him. He too confirmed that I needed plenty money to execute but in the weeks that followed I was able to convince him to do it for almost nothing. Few months later, with 48 thousand naira we created something that should have cost hundreds of thousands of naira. By this time another incredibly awesome and smart guy had joined the team, Otiga Alih. Lawrence would later leave and Otiga took over the branding of Praxis. I’ll share more about these lovely guys.

Then it was time to put together a masthead. I wanted a team of very young people but the Nigerian literary space was hostile towards us in the beginning. We were seen as outsiders and some people actually said that I did not know enough to be the one to float something like Praxis. So I told my guys that look, we are going to snub the young guys for now and they will look for us later. I then went for people I’ve always admired and respected from afar:

Prof. Unoma Azuah (copy editor), Ukamaka Olisakwe (fiction editor), Shittu Fowora (Art Coordinator), Estrella Dale (Poetry editor), Adétutù Olúsolá (non-fiction) while Lawrence was our IT Manager. I discussed the idea with the late Prof. Pius Adesanmi and got his blessing. I talked to Pa Ikhide too and we agreed to meet when I enter the U.S or whenever he was in Nigeria (that never happened but he became one of our early contributors).

A year later I was back to the drawing board only this time the goal was simple: to put together a mast head that will last longer and evolve with the platform.

This brought in Jennifer Chinenye EmelifeLaura M KaminskiJohn ‘Lighthouse’ OyewaleEmmanuel Oluwaseun DairoMiracle AdebayoJames Ogunjimi and others.

The team then expanded to include Shannon HopkinsTari NdoroCarl TerverMichael Larri Ohiorhenuan, and others.

And now we have a team of largely very young people, which was my original intention. 😁

Throughout the journey and various stages, Aidee Erhime remained a unofficial member of the team and a reliable supporter.

Here is the summary of what I’ve consistently told the team at Praxis (and Box Office too): we are not here to be woke or seek validation, we’re building a platform that will outlive us all, so put in the work first and the accolades will follow later.

The major lessons for me in all this are two:

1 – EVERYTHING IS EXTREMELY POSSIBLE if you stay patient and consistent.

2 – Forget the plenty Englishes, nobody is better than anyone and the so-called gate keepers have less power and influence than they are accorded.

Praxis has also helped me learn three key things about myself:

1 – I am good at identifying talents and putting together a solid team when given the time to.

2 – My strength lies in working silently behind the scene as against taking the spotlight (and I love it!).

3 – I am a good war time manager and a bad peace time manager. I wanted Praxis to gain name recognition within its first 100 days and to strike some international partnerships in its first year. I went all in, day and night, aggressively pursuing these two goals until we achieved them. Once Praxis gained the reputation that I wanted it to gain, I knew it was time for me to take the backseat. I’ll share some entries from my notebook (idea book).

I have had the privilege of working with very wonderful and really talented people from all over the world. I have received emails from people who are grateful for the work that we do. I say this with great humility, I feel great that we have impacted lives and contributed to the development of literature on the continent. Praxis has contributed to the growth of almost everyone who’s hot today in the literary scene. Thank you all for the roles that you played. Happy birthday to us!

Please share with me fond memories of your time at Praxis or anything you love about what we do:

OyinEchezonachukwuWaleBibiNnamdiObinnaSheikhaRomeoSodiqMaryDamiAdeolaEbenezerAishaRichardAhmedMaryJahman and everyone that’s worked with us in any capacity.

Tee Jay Dan is the Founder of Praxis Magazine Online and CEO at Box Office Studios