Archives for posts with tag: Writer

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.

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Now we invade the man in question, a little bit.

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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.

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 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.

 

CONNECT MORE WITH HIM HERE

www.themetroreview.com

rottenbiro.blogspot.com

On this year’s World Read Aloud Day, it is a real pleasure to have Nigerian Author, Editor and children’s book writer Ayo Olofintuade as our guest. Ayo became more visible on Nigeria’s literary scene after her book ENO’S STORY published in 2010 earned her a Nigeria Prize for Literature nomination.

She is more interesting because she isn’t only about writing books, but wants people; particularly Nigerians; to read books. To actualize this challenge she founded LAIPO Mobile Library which has engaged hundreds of Nigerian children in reading and other literary activities.

We are also inspired by her human rights activism.

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We caught up with Ayo at her Ibadan base and had a good chat, after which she graciously read a passage from her heartwarming new work KING OF THE HEAP, in celebration of 2017’s World Read Aloud Day. Enjoy.

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AFRIKAJUMP- Thanks for sharing your time with us Ayo. You were our top choice on the blog today also because of your spirited efforts in the area of literacy with Nigerian children. Why are you so involved?

AYO- I grew up reading, so when I discovered that a lot of children do not have access to libraries or good books I decided to do something about it.

AFRIKAJUMP- Congrats. We are excited about your new book “King of the heap”. What inspired it?

AYO- One of the things I discovered while running the mobile library project in public and lower income private schools is that the children enjoy books with characters they are familiar with. King of the heap was written for the children I teach. They are the children you see on the streets after school hours, during holidays and on weekends, selling things by the roadside. These are my heroes because they’re determined to make a life for themselves in spite of all the odds stacked against them.

AFRIKAJUMP- We hear the book isn’t going to be widely distributed, but will feature in some select libraries- some consolation. Why is this so?

AYO- I applied for a business grant from the Tony Elumelu Foundation, I had such grand plans but things didn’t work out the way I’d envisaged them, because of the economy and sheer incompetence of the people I worked with. Instead of completely losing out I made the decision to keep the circulation low while I work on other business models that can work in the situationship called Nigeria.

AFRIKAJUMP- Why have you chosen to write for children?

AYO- I am that eternal child that still watches cartoons and reads comics.

AFRIKAJUMP- What was your favorite book as a child?

AYO- My Father’s Daughter by Mabel Segun, basically because it features a black, female character who went on the same adventure as boys.

AFRIKAJUMP- Who’s your favourite Author now? You only get to choose one… hehehe evil, I know.

AYO- You are Evil. But I’m presently enamoured with Yaa Gyasi. Her book ‘Homegoing’ provided a much needed insight into the slavery period in Africa, particularly what happened in the Gold Coast.

AFRIKAJUMP- On this year’s World Read Aloud day, how do you think the reading culture of your country can be improved?

AYO- The only way is the provision of quality education that makes reading (and I’m not talking about textbooks here) its chief concern.

AFRIKAJUMP- Can you describe your city in one word?

AYO- Sarcastic.

Gifted poet and writer Olajumoke Verissimo doesn’t need much introduction. Her first book I Am Memory successfully took on a big challenge very few attempt-History; the painful part of Nigeria’s history. Jumoke is an all round literary head; having studied English literature at the university and furthering her academics in African studies; the artist has worked extensively with some leading Newspaper and media houses in Nigeria as an Editor and Copywriter.

A recipient of more than a few awards in her career, Verissimo has been hailed as one of those who will change the face of Nigeria’s literature; and as fans of her work, we see it already happening.

AFRIKAJUMP asked her some questions about life; work and aspirations.

As we say in Brazil, Vamoonezza! It means; let’s go!

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AFRIKAJUMP- Olajumoke I consider you blessed and lucky; many artists have had to print books and works of art only to practically urge people to buy so they can survive, but your works get published, calmly and not in a do or die way, it seems. Your endeavors as an editor and writer in the print and web media also serves as a channel to perform your artistry. Which would you say is more enjoyable: Your career as a Poet or that of a literature/media person?

OLAJUMOKE-  Thank you. Your words are very kind. As artists, we are both blessed and lucky. Yet, the idea of success—which I believe your question tries to address—is rather subjective. You have to understand that the internet and the media can sometimes be overwhelmingly fictitious in defining the success of an artist. This is why the true realities of an artist are usually distorted in the media—like, good reviews of a book does not equal good sales.

In all, I’m eternally grateful for many things, even the mistakes I make. Nothing is a do or die for me. There’s so much to give and the length of life might not be enough for it, so why choose death when you can just do (imagine) life? Be immortal.

For most enjoyed career….let’s just say, I make efforts to enjoy what I do. Life is too short. As long as I can write, I’d be fine—I’d suffer my emotions, and be human. That’s fulfillment.

AFRIKAJUMP- What one major challenge did you have to tackle in your art to get to where you are now and how did you do it? Can you share?

OLAJUMOKE- Er…how do I answer this question?

I was lucky with my first book, I Am Memory. Yet, when I look back, there was just me struggling to stay afloat, fighting to stay sane. It’s been all small steps moving forward, and those small steps are still in motion. There’s no big story of being picked from somewhere and dropped somewhere—sorry. I’m not a movie star or a rock star, I’m a writer. Every day comes with a promise to challenge.

The truth is that we always try to put a structure to this thing, but a writer’s journey is not defined by plans in that sense. You can plan to finish a book in a year and it runs into years. You may hope to get a publisher in one-year and you don’t get one in ten. The structures in place only ask you to keep working – that is a challenge. You could become depressed wondering when and where you’d fit into a space in the mythical skies where all birds have enough space to fly. Until, your work is published and read, you are just trying everything. You’re sending out submissions, attending events, learning and forming opinions….this never ends. It’s cyclical.

You’re trying to keep your soul from wandering and it is the writing that captures it. You send it out, it finds a home. It gets a name. You hone the craft—you keep honing the craft. The challenge is cyclical.  In all of this, you keep sane by understanding yourself above the noise: you remember how we dream differently, and you try to keep be.

In another dimension, I think we push our struggles differently as writers, as artists, so let’s just say I’m pushing mine with as much passion and self-will as I can power. I don’t know how you arrived at your condition, but there’s goodwill in it and that is promise.

Remember also, that this narrative is simply a writer outside life’s happenings in Nigeria. A writer struggling to put food on the table, trying to subsist.

AFRIKAJUMP- Deep. You are a picture of calm and innocence until one starts to read your works that address the heavier stuff in our society, Corruption, Imperialism, our history. Your bravery and fierceness in I Am Memory which you published in 2008 addressed topics many would rather wish away. Why did you take on this challenge?

OLAJUMOKE- It’s interesting that it all turned out the way it did. Bravery is a kind word. You are an artist, and you know we do not choose depression or restlessness to overtake our calm, yet anytime one visits one’s core values, which spurred one to be an artist, one settles for sanity, for calm, one writes the trouble—what you described as ‘the heavy stuff.’

Considering that I wrote I am memory under the influence of ongoing debates on media reports at the time—largely from members of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) at the Ladipo Labinjo close, Surulere, Lagos, and there was the host of artists at Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA).  After the monthly meetings, it was not unusual to see the older members debate the state of the nation at different hangouts in Lagos. Perhaps, I was lucky to start attending literary and art events where fierce debates were the norm. Perhaps; talking politics with my dad made me question the society even more. It could also be that I was an angry teenager and then young adult who was alarmed at how the protective hold of my parents did not prepare me for the horrors on the street. Perhaps all of this influenced the tangent of the themes. I gave the first manuscript to a poet, Akeem Lasisi when I was about 21, or there about. I started the book as a commentary on reparations because of my ancestry which finds root in the transatlantic slavery. I wanted to understand what MKO Abiola, who was passionate about the cause was talking about. I did some research and it turned out differently.  I showed it to the Master Poet, Odia Ofeimun and he made suggestions. You must as well understand, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was responding to the environment, innocently.

AFRIKAJUMP- Brilliant. What inspired your second book, Birth of Illusion?

I was writing this other book and then I got stuck. So, I started to put together a poem to capture the zeitgeist of private and public turbulence in the world in the last decade. Old poems got a slot and new poems found a place as well.

AFRIKAJUMP- I love when that happens. You know, like the saying one door closes another opens. Now say you are appointed by the government to help salvage Nigeria’s literary sector what three things would you primarily or immediately address? 

OAJUMOKE- There’s no point making a list – the government should focus on education. Beyond literacy, which is not even available, we need a country of educated minds. A country with a history; A country where the parts can question the whole. Presently, everything in the country reeks of failure – usually, people suffer ‘curse of knowledge’ ours is a ‘curse of ignorance’.  We are so ignorant of our illiterate state, we do not realise we have fallen down the continental ladder as a country. We’re going about as largest black nation. Please, if we have educated minds, the literary sector would thrive. We would create structures that won’t be subsumed under political thuggery and social despondency.

AFRIKAJUMP- Nothing like inept public office holders to bring the fire out of a patriot. Which author(s) are you currently reading, if any?

OLAJUMOKE- Ibrahim Al-Koni Scarecrow, Claudia Rakine Citizen, Sarah Manyinka Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, Odia Ofeimun, A Boiling Caracas, and Ryan Holiday Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

AFRIKAJUMP- What book by another writer did you wish you wrote?

OLAJUMOKE- This one is hard o. I’ll pick any of Toni Morrison’s books; Okay, I’ll stick with Sula.

AFRIKAJUMP- Your top 3 authors. This is a tough one, I know.

OLAJUMOKE- I’ve decided I won’t do this again. It is torture. If you insist, the current authors on my reading list. Once I’m done, the next authors I’m reading. If, you however, think you should really, really know. Whenever death visits, the last three on my lips could be taken as the final word.

AFRIKAJUMP- HAHAHAHAHA Well played. Any projects in the works you want us to know about?

OLAJUMOKE- Yes, but I’m superstitious.

AFRIKAJUMP- HAHAHAHA you are amazing Jumoke, thank you. Lastly, can you describe your city in one word?

OLAJUMOKE- Fierce!

Keep up with the writer here- https://twitter.com/awapointe

You can get her new book on the link below

https://www.amazon.com/I-am-memory-Jumoke-Verissimo/dp/9780880658

Photo by Seye Kehinde.

One of Africa’s greatest novelists Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta passed away on January 25th; another heavy blow to Nigeria’s creative industry coming shortly after the demise of electronic funk pioneer, William Onyeabor.

Buchi Emecheta is famed for her works like In the ditch, The joys of motherhood, Second class citizen and at least 19 other books which were mostly written from her personal experiences.

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The writer who lived mostly in the United Kingdom came dangerously close to being undiscovered. Married at 17 under tough circumstances, she abandoned all ideas about chasing dreams while she tended to her new family.

Buchi moved with her husband a few years after to the UK when he was admitted to study Accountancy, and between raising five children and dealing with a difficult spouse she began to write. Her first manuscript titled The Bride Price did not stand a chance- the one person she wanted to read it so badly ended up burning it in anger. It was a romance story.

She published a book with same title later and it was NOT a romantic ending.

Marital crisis nonetheless Buchi Emecheta started studying Sociology as she worked jobs to begin a new life with just her children. She devoted her work to addressing women’s lives; rights and how they are affected by societal issues and constraints. Although she did not want to be called a feminist, her words and very importantly her actions proved she was a proper one; believing and pursuing her rights to her personal choices and interests which released her potentials as a human being to the world, and subsequently using her art to liberate women. Once in an interview she asserted that “Women are capable of living for so many other reasons than men.”

Preach.

We are humbled and motivated by your strength; your contributions to your culture and your many personal achievements; Buchi Emecheta, thank you for the inspiration.

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