Daily Trust Sunday
‘How social media inspired me to become a writer’
In 1966, ‘Efuru,’ a novel by Nigerian writer, Flora Nwapa was published as the 26th book in the African Writers Series. What was remarkable about that news was that it was the first book by an African woman to be published.
It has been 50 years since that momentous occasion and many women have followed the path blazed by Nwapa. And plans are underway to commemorate the golden jubilee.
The Flora Nwapa Foundation has grand plans to celebrate the occasion with events scheduled for Abuja, Lagos and Maiduguri with a grand finale in Enugu. They will include symposiums, drama sketches, writing competition, a children’s carnival and a nights of tributes.
It is being shaped to be a fitting celebration of a book that has changed the course of African Literature since its publication. ‘Efuru’ centres on the title character, an independent-minded Igbo woman and respected trader, who lives in a small village in colonial West Africa.
The book is rich in portrayals of the Igbo culture and of different scenarios, which have led to its current status as a feminist and cultural work, leading to international and local acceptance of the author.
The foundation, headed by Nwapa’s son, Mr. Uzoma Nwakuche, a legal practitioner, has inaugurated a five-man National Organising Committee, to be led by Dr. Wale Okediran to coordinate the events nationwide while various local organising committees will organise events in the various cities.
Prof. Hope Eghagha, the Head of the Department of English, University of Lagos, will head the LOC in Nigeria’s former capital, while Prof. Vicky Sylvester, who occupies the same position at
should take out some parts and whatever, I will take it but once you abuse me I will tune-off. I’m not listening to you again. When I started writing on social media and my work started drawing lots of attention, I told myself to be ready for criticism and to learn to sift the honest ones from those people who just don’t like me and will say any mean thing to get to me.
Do you have a target audience and does your target audience change from time to time?
Although I like writing for young girls and women, and that’s where I target most of my stories, my target audience changes from time to time, depending. I also do general stories. I’m currently writing for children because I find it really challenging. So, it actually depends on what inspires me at that moment if what inspires me is meant for kids, I’ll write for kids, if what inspires me is meant for men, I’ll write for men, if what inspires me is meant for women, I’ll write for women. So, the shift in audience depends on what inspires me at any and every point in time. the University of Abuja, will oversee proceedings in Nigeria’s new capital. In Maiduguri, where Flora Nwapa was once a visiting professor, Dr. Razinat Mohammed of the University of Maiduguri will oversee affairs there while in Enugu and Oguta, Nwapa’s birthplace, Prince Paschal Mebuge-Obaa will spearhead affairs.
Commenting, the Chairman, Nwapa Foundation and son of the late Nwapa, Barrister Uzona Nwakuche described the golden anniversary celebration of Efuru as a deserved celebration for his mother whom he said, nothing much has been done to celebrate her feats as a foremost African female writer and the first female commissioner in the old Eastern Region.
“Twenty three years after her death, we have done much to celebrate Flora Nwapa and what she was through out her lifetime. The Nwapa Foundation has however been set up to protect and promote her legacy.
You majorly write short stories, what made you gravitate towards short stories?
Novels are lengthy. I remember when I tried to write my first novel, I was motivated by awesome writers who say “I had this story in my head so I sat down one day and in a month I finished a 6,000 paged story.” I’m like wow I’ll write a novel. And then I start and in chapter two I’m like so what’s next? That’s what made me gravitate towards short stories. Also I realized that social media is a short story, go straight to the point, give it as it is platform. So that made me take to short stories.
I read something about you being a feminist. Where does that come from?
Yes I am but I don’t like when people introduce me as that because there is more to me. There was a day someone referred someone to me and said, “Oh meet her, she’s a very good feminist” and for some reason I was unhappy because I am more than that. But I appreciate the writings born out of my beliefs as far as feminism goes.
At first, I used to use my writings to try and argue and get men to see my point of view because unfortunately in Nigeria when you talk about feminism, it all boils down to whether you are going to end up in the kitchen and that annoys me a lot.
At first I used to use my short stories to argue a lot. I will write really long semiintelligent pieces about how it is from the women’s point but I realized it’s a battle in futility. What I do now is that I actually write to teach women that as we are fighting for feminism, make sure we are ready to face the consequences. Don’t be a pick and choose feminist where you say he has to foot my bills, pay for anything I want and then later you get up and shout “I’m a feminist.” You don’t get to pick and choose. I’ve realized I’ve been able to touch a number of women to know that you don’t go on a date with a guy, carry five of your friends and eat for your ancestors. You then get back, come on social media and say you jammed a ‘mugu’. That’s not ‘mugu’ that’s stupidity and then you get back tomorrow and start shouting you are a feminist, that’s not feminism. If you are fighting for equal rights when you go on a date, offer to pay half of the bill. Feminism simply is saying equal rights, let’s split the burden so we can live long.
With regards to your writing, what are you working on now?
Okay, I’m working on my book. It’s a collection of short stories. Over the years, I’ve been reading short stories that left me dissatisfied. So I’m currently working on short stories that have a definite beginning and a definite end. I want to satisfy my readers and myself.
What are your last words?
To anybody who is writing don’t be shy. If you are writing nonsense or not that’s what the editors are there for, to sift the nonsense and keep the sense.
Don’t refer to your work as write-ups , it’s very annoying. Call them what they are; short stories, fiction, historical and so on. If you call them what they are, people will not take your work for granted.
Be bold about your gift and don’t apologize for it. Be receptive to criticism, if it’s really harsh tell yourself this person is really harsh, I know I’m better than this, I’ll work on it. And also if you are someone who edits please be kind because a lot of people are not as strong as others.