Saturday, November 15, 2008

From an interview with Obi Nwakanma

What were the major factors that inspired you into writing?

It was simply, principally, the great allure and romance of the spoken word. There was a magic to it all. There was even the chivalry; our great loves; the young, beautiful women – our peers of course – to whom we addressed great love letters; and long agonized poems declaring love in bold, exaggerated verse. They were mostly the beautiful girls from the Holy Rosary School – the Girls Secondary School in Umuahia. But of course, one absorbed the nature of words from reading. I remember quite clearly, when I was in primary four, and my mother was reading Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country, Ngugi’s Weep Not Child, and Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God. And that was when I read her copy of those books. I was moved by the landscape of Weep Not Child, and Njoroge’s experience within it. As children, we would go to the beautiful Umuahia Divisional Library, which had a fine children’s section in those days, and opened on Saturdays from 9 am to 3:00 pm, and we encountered books, and such things. It was a healthy place to be. That absorption with books, indirectly inspired my own efforts, and in many ways, it was always, not a philosophical question, but a simple attraction to utterance for its own sake. I wrote to amuse my friends and myself. In some ways, occasionally, to impress the beautiful maiden of one’s dream of that season, with what one felt was the important, even sometimes, blinding genius of one’s utterance.
The full interview is on this fine blog EverythinLiterature by Sumaila Isah of Kaduna's New Nigerian Newspapers.

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