Meet Daniel John Tukura (25), popularly known as TeeJay Dan, He is one of the founding members at Topnotch Films and a publisher/Digital Editor at Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature. He is also a graduate of New York Film Academy and a strong promoter of arts, literature and culture in Africa and across the world. He hopes to be on Forbes 30Under30 before he clocks 30. Read more on our exclusive interview with him as he tells us about the trials and thrills of the entertainment world.
- How It all Started: It all started from the moment I realized that the African culture and languages were getting into extinction mostly ‘Gbagyi’ which is my mother tongue. This troubled me for a long time and as an individual with a passion for blogging, podcasts, video reviewing and a graduate from the New York Film Academy, I had a heartfelt discussion with a friend of mine Shittu Fowora (current Arts Director at Praxis) and that was how we berthed the idea of creating Praxis Literary Magazine. The journey of publishing and video making was never easy as I got duped by individuals several times and I forfeited my first company; Debcykol Publishing because at a certain point, i got too scared to dare but this changed came when ideas started popping in and i worked more on my passion by promoting podcast culture over and having African contents readily available to the teeming number of Africans that are always online. As there is a need for Africans to revive our languages and possibly oral literature; we should have fork tales, audio books, works of fiction and non-fiction published in indigenous African Languages and I also think that spoken word poets should be celebrated the same way as musicians. These form our core philosophy at Praxis Magazine and luckily, without much stress we are fishing out all the people necessary to achieve our ambitions. It has been a blessed journey thus far.
- Your Fears and Challenges In the Industry: I have no fear about doing business in Africa as Opportunities abound here. Africa is a fertile field for smart entrepreneurs to plough. As for challenges, I see them as opportunities to get creative and expand. For instance, when we were preparing for the launch of Praxis Magazine we could not pretend about the fact that ours was a novel idea with huge financial implications. We had limited budget so we really had to get creative. There is a general cry for funding in the arts sector and we have the need both at Praxis Magazine and Topnotch Films. We are still pushing, and hoping to access funds.
- Your Breakthrough: I think the breakthrough for me, for Praxis, came when all those on the Editorial Board said yes to the idea. This was quickly complemented by the partnership with CORA/Arterial Network. I screamed and jumped around the house the day I read Praxis Magazine’s Call for Submissions in CORA/Arterial Network’s newsletter. Abubakar Adam published our Press Release on Sunday Trust, and so many other favors and good news followed. It has been love all the way ever since.
- What Makes Your Style Unique: I write my own rules. I know how to put a great team together. The right people are here. The energy is there. We are taking over everywhere.
- Current Trends In the Industry: Well, everybody wants to be the next Linda Ikeji so everyone is setting up a blog. Yes, businesses are going digital and rendering online services is the new cool. But no, I am not interested in all that. Do I study trends? Certainly, with the patience of a high school teacher I should add. Do I care to follow trends? I would rather observe, scheme, then pounce to create the next trend.Talking about trends, I believe that Yax Mokwa, a Nigerian programmer is set to create what might possibly become the next social online craze. I admire trend-setters and that is exactly what we will keep trying to achieve at Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature.
- What Was Your Worst Mistake While Starting Up and How Did You Learn from It: The worst mistake that I have made so far, happened some months ago. I got an opportunity to handle a project that would have landed me some big bucks but it flopped because i relied on a ‘team member’. In retrospect, I learned that I am responsible for whatever happens, not any member of the team.
- Your Business Motto: Continuous innovation, Customer satisfaction. Think Why not How.
- Your Life’s Motto: I live by a mantra: Believe in yourself, find your calling, pay the necessary price and never back down because everything is extremely possible!
- What Is Your Perception about Africa and Entrepreneurship: Africa is a goldmine. It is quite sad that my peers are rather preoccupied with the craze of moving West. It is difficult, yes, but then it becomes more difficult in foreign land. Africa is growing, pretty fast I should add. We are lucky to be coming up with these brilliant ideas and still find a vacuum for them. There are so many vacuums to be filled here. For instance, I cannot go to the United States of America to establish Praxis Magazine or Topnotch Films. There should be about ten or a hundred magazines over there doing almost exactly what Praxis is doing now. But the reception for Praxis Magazine over here has been amazing so far, almost overwhelming. Why? – because there is that vacuum to fill. I have had to turn down several invitations to leave Nigeria, Africa as a whole, and become a citizen of one of the many countries that would allow my potentials flourish. But I have better opportunities here as a creative entrepreneur than if I find myself in US or UK. After all, internet and technology have bulldozed all borders and most barriers, it is now a global village that we live in. I do not have to pretend that the absence of certain things (adequate power for instance) does not make business, especially for start-ups, quite difficult. But really we can grow from here and go all out. I have learned a couple of truths through the widespread of Praxis Magazine’s reach and the endorsements that we are getting thus far. We have an opportunity to recreate Africa and I am happy to be among the young entrepreneurs already doing it.
- Your Message to Entrepreneurs and Youths: Chike Maduegbuna, co-founder of Afrinolly, once said to me that “the major problem with young Nigerians is that they are always in a rush to sell ideas that are still cooling off inside their heads” You cannot be an entrepreneur by simply philosophizing about the noble ideas that are in your head. Get a paper, write down those marvelous ideas, come up with a plan, and then execute. Reading and mentorship will go a long way. I have been inspired a crop of mentors beyond measure. There is huge gain in understudying not just people doing what you do, but successful people that inspire you. And hey, be hopeful all you want, but never slow down on account of anyone’s promise to help.
- Additional Information People Should Know: We are currently working simultaneously on a poetry chapbook and our maiden digital edition which will be published in the first week of July. The poetry chapbook has twenty (20) poems by Ismail Bala, a Fellow of the International Writing Programme at Iowa University and lecturer of English, Poetry and Modern Literary Theory at the Usmanu Danfodio University, sokoto, Nigeria. The maiden digital edition on the other hand is dedicated to Dr. Ladi Kwali (the potter on Nigeria’s twenty naira bill) and all other women in the world of Arts and Literature. The forthcoming issue will feature influential women like Nike Okundaye of the Nike Galleries fame.
Praxis Magazine is always open for sponsorship, ad placement and partnership in any literary project and accepts submissions at all times, all year round. For more information, visit http://www.praxismagonline.com/about/call-for-submissions/ .