Inspiring writer Bura Bari Nwilo is our guest today and it is a real pleasure.
Like the late African hero Ken Saro Wiwa, he hails from Ogoni land- a paradise in Nigeria turned to a bed of conflict centered on oil, and as you read on; Bura reveals to us from his Port-harcourt base what this means to him.
His contagious humor and satiric sense has earned him even more fans on social media, and frankly speaking he brings joy to many with his wise cracks, much needed in beautiful and chaotic Nigeria.
Here’s the cover of his new book, A Tiny Place Called Happiness.
Now we invade the man in question, a little bit.
AFRIKAJUMP- Welcome Bura and thank you for talking with us. I’m curious to know which African writers have influenced you the most, and how?
BURA- In terms of simple storytelling, Achebe would take the honour and of course it is basically by reading his works. In terms of experimenting and taking unconventional approaches, Dambudzo (Dambudzo Marechera) would be the man. I have read the House of Hunger and some of his works published posthumously. I love Ms Adichie too. She works magic with intricate sentences and details.
AFRIKAJUMP- Like the great late Ken Saro-Wiwa, you are from Ogoni land. How does the past and present history of your ancestral home affect you as a person and as a writer?
BURA- Currently, violence among the young people give me sleepless nights and sometimes I want to create fiction but the thought of my mother in the village give me worries. The despoliation of the land and our insistence on government to take responsibilities are factors that spur any creative person.
AFRIKAJUMP- And as a writer?
BURA- I always feel that writers have a way of representing their cultures in their works. Mine is under-represented. See what Junot Diaz does with Dominican Republic. The fine memories I have of Ogoni and the people, of love and late night play in the sand, if I don’t capture them fictionally, I doubt if anyone would.
Ken Saro-Wiwa is a pathfinder when it comes to stories from this part of the world and I appreciate his styles and courage to tell it.
AFRIKAJUMP- If you were appointed by government as part of a team to support Literary Arts in Nigeria what top 3 remedies would you prescribe?
BURA BARI- We would give adequate support to indigenous publishing houses and create reading centres across the country. This would help to reunite book readers again. When you visit some of the libraries, either the rooms meant for literary discussions have been turned into shops or made into stores. We will bring it back. We’d set up reading contests so that young people would know that reading is cool too.
AFRIKAJUMP- You have a funny bone. Your book; Diary of a bloody retard is proof; and there’s that letter you wrote to Nigerian pop star Dbanj some years ago. Of course we cannot exclude your social media updates. Many Nigerians use humor as a survival mechanism. Is this your case too? Are you going to take your comic to perhaps the movies, and more?
BURA- Yeah. It is in my book on relationship – Diary of a Stupid Boyfriend and of course the recent book of short stories – A Tiny Place Called Happiness. Humor is one way to survive around here. It could be too dark and to see the lighter side of the things around here keeps life in us.
AFRIKAJUMP- Any past, present or future project(s) you want us to know about?
BURA- I am still promoting A Tiny Place Called Happiness. I may be working on a book of stories for young children. I have been researching that for a while. It is still developing. And yes, I am looking at going back to school, get a degree in African Studies and write some more.
AFRIKAJUMP- Can you try to describe your city in one word? Okay two words max.
BURA- Chaotically beautiful.