The ‘review’ as a concept has never been stronger. International media platforms like Rotten Tomatoes and Vulture are built solely on the idea that audience members have preconceived notions about their favourite films, music and literature and are looking for platforms with ‘authenticity’ and ‘authority’ to either validate those claims or refute them. With the Vulture Festival raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue and Rotten Tomatoes changing its revenue model to collect a percentage of tickets bought through affiliate links from its website, media people are realising there is money to be made from the review.
Enter the Nigerian critique/review sites. PartyJollof was one of the first websites to take on the challenge, reviewing Nigerian webseries and quickly becoming an authority on what was good to watch. Nativemag followed in 2017, as did Culture Custodian and More Branches, all Gen-Z focused platforms. Sodas and Popcorn (which still exists but with a fraction of its former clout) and True Nollywood Stories, (which was well thought out but fizzled out quickly) were more specific to film. Then of course, there was Creetiq.
Apart from being review site for all forms of media with a snazzy design build and ambitions to cover all of Nollywood’s creative enterprises; Creetiq was also the first review platform to create a reality tv style competition to find the next generation of critics. I personally felt the quality of shortlistees were less than stellar, and the cycle of the show didn’t really allow for growth of these writers. But it did stamp them as thought leaders in the group. That is until even they went underground.
However, it seems a new review platform, started by Dami Ajayi and Toni Kan called The Lagos Review is coming to stake its claim on this blood strewn stomping ground. They are starting very big and making good on their tagline ‘Home of the best writing’, with reviews of Chika Unigwe’s yet to be released new short story collection, Bolanle Austen Peter’s’s much talked about Bling Lagosians, and the Lagos To Limbe anthology.
I have read some of the stories and I am quite impressed, plus the submissions model while cruder than Creetiq’s seems to work for the platform. But most importantly, it has Dami Ajayi (who has run Saraba Mag for nearly a decade) and Toni Kan (who successfully sold Sabi News to an international firm) at the helm. If any two people can sidesteps the mistakes that drowned Creetiq, it will be them.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.