Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Exclusive Interview With Mr Adekunle Adebajo.

Mr Kunle Adebajo, one of the young prolific writers in Nigeria, bagging the award for winning the 1434AH Superior Pen writing competition and the 2nd National Essay competition organized by The Nigerian Higher Education Foundation, shared a little on his journey in the business of writing. It's an enlightening interview. You are advised to absorb every word and letter.

CAN WE MEET YOU?
I am Adekunle Adebajo, a penultimate student of law at the University of Ibadan. And I hail from Ogun State, particularly Ijebu-Ode Local Government. Currently, I have the honour of occupying the offices of Editor-in-Chief of my hall's press and General Secretary, the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, University of Ibadan Branch.

AT WHAT AGE DID YOU BEGIN TO SUBMIT ENTRIES FOR ESSAY COMPETITIONS?
I started throwing my hats in for writing competitions at the age of 14. The first was the BASIC Trust Essay Competition. Surprisingly, I was declared as a Joint 5th Prize Winner. Back then I had no smartphone, so I had to frequent the cybercaf√© to check the result. On the faithful day, the first time I checked the list, perhaps out of anxiety I did not see my name. After checking a second or third time, I finally saw it and could not hide my joy. In an unexpected turn of events, out of the organiser’s many promises (of scholarship, cash prizes etc.), all I got was a certificate and a cheap Chinese cell phone. I was not discouraged though. I guess it was one of the earliest sparks for my can-do spirit today.

DID YOU EVER GET DISCOURAGED AS A RESULT OF NUMEROUS DISAPPOINTMENTS AFTER SUBMISSIONS?
Firstly I should say disappointments are natural. Though we have categories of writers and different shades of quality, writing contests are not like the Cowbell Mathematics Competition where you can estimate your exact score. And so, no matter how good you are, sometimes your fate is determined not by your performance but by the proclivities of the jury. At the moment, my PC confirms that I have sent entries for just 25 competitions. I have physically participated in about 5 others. And out of these 30, God be praised, I have won in 10. I really do not think I can describe the others as ‘numerous disappointments’ when I consider that someone like Abdullahi Muhammed (whom I revere a lot) participated in over 100 writing competitions within 4 years. Now he must have been numerously disappointed, but that did not deter him from trying time and again. I have been disappointed, yes. I have been disappointed when an organisation announces a competition only to go AWOL after the deadline. I have been disappointed too when I do not win after long hours of research and a longer wait. And I have been disappointed when I was only a few points away from the big win. But, as someone (Ms Tawakalit Kareem) once told me, perhaps God carefully places thorns of disappointments in our bed of roses just to keep us humble and remind us that we are not infallible. Besides, greatness is not in never falling. It is in mustering the courage to lift oneself after each fall.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PUBLISHED WORK?
Not yet. Not yet. I think this is because I am not into fiction-writing. If I am to write a book, I would like it to be something excellent and out of the ordinary. Not just some banal, uninspiring story or overflogged subject. I want it to be really useful to whoever decides to read, not just something to brandish so I could call myself an author. However, I have it in my plan to release two electronic books soon, one being an anthology. I am already working on it. I also hope to co-publish an actual book, a collection of my columns, alongside Kanyinsola Olorunnisola. This should be taking place next year all things being equal.

YOUR WRITING SKILLS GET BETTER BY THE DAY, HOW DO YOU SHARPEN IT?
In accordance with the saying that ‘practice makes (one) perfect’, it is a law of nature that the more effort a person invests into a thing, the better he gets at it. This has been the case for me. When I gained admission into the University of Ibadan, I immediately joined the press in my first year. I also became a member of the Literary and Debating Society of my faculty. No doubt at all, my consistent contributions in these realms have contributed tangibly to the spectacle I have now become.
The largest room anywhere in the universe is the room for improvement. Anyone can get better by the day if they do something extra by the day. From every new word you learn, from every chapter you read, from every paragraph you write and rewrite, from every competition you participate it, from every review you get, from every disappointment; it keeps getting easier and you keep getting better – though you may not instantly realise it.

WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
Forgive me in advance for the use of a Latin expression but it captures this perfectly. Docendo disco, scribendo cogito – I learn by teaching and I think by writing. I am inspired by the understanding that writing makes me a better person. My cerebral horizon is broadened through the art of penning down thoughts, marshalling and mulling over them inevitably and seeking to teach my readership. I am inspired by the understanding that writing is a tool which can be wielded for social engineering. And sincerely, cash rewards can be a huge source of inspiration too (.

HOW DO YOU GATHER YOUR WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE?
Oh I gather experience through reading and research. I like to think that essaying does really require a person to be smart. It only requires him to be able to paint himself as smart. The key to this is knowing where to sniff for relevant information whenever you need them. I think I am relatively good with the internet. I know how to gather pieces of information and how to sieve the wheat from the chaff. Nonetheless, the place of residual knowledge too should not be underplayed. Often a time, it is the things you know before writing that aid it most. They guide your searchlight to very helpful items. So, though I’m not close to being a bookworm, I fancy reading diverse subjects at leisure, from literature to history, from science to metaphysics.

YOUR ADVICE TO WRITERS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN COMMENDED?
My advice to them is not to wait to be commended. They should not tie their umbilical cord of survival to praises and prizes and encomiums. Rather they should write for writing sake and for the good of the society. If they do this diligently, commendation will knock on the door at the right time and might even refuse to leave after it is no longer welcome. Remember the words of Rancho Shamaldas Chanchad, ‘pursue excellence and success will follow, pants down’.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN CAUSING CHANGE WITH A PEN? TELL US A LITTLE MORE.
Absolutely! In a certain citation, I described myself as one who believes in the potency of the pen and speech to liberate, edify and uplift the human mind. People act based on the information at their disposal and based on the persuasiveness of arguments presented before them. A good writer is not only capable of moulding the mindset and attitudes of a people, he is capable of putting the leaders on their toes. And if he is very good, he is capable even of manufacturing a religion or triggering a far-reaching revolution. His readers will gravitate in the direction of the pen, and no tool is greater than this. This is why the pen, in the right hands, will always outdo the sword in whichever hand. Authors such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Eric Arthur Blair, Henry David Thoreau and Karl Marx have made quantum impacts in their societies and in the world just by remarkably writing down their thoughts. This tool is available to everyone. But it takes courage to use it for selfless motives.

WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO SEE YOUR WORKS IN FIVE YEARS?
Well, I’d say this is a quite challenging question. But in five years, I hope to see my works on the face of the nation. I hope to see them manifest positively in the lives of my countrymen. I hope to see them contribute meaningfully to the Nigerian Project. I hope to see them held and read by people I have never met, from all parts of the globe. And I hope to see them sitting majestically in libraries, bookshops and on superlative online media. So help me God.

8 comments:

  1. The guy writes well. See his use of words.

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  2. Lol, yes. He writes realy well. She how careful and interesting his interview is. Wil need his contact.

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  3. Cash inspires him.��

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    1. Well, it wont be a bad idea if someone's inspired by money. But it is a bad idea to judge blindly without knowing the person personally. I know him so well to say you aren't entirely correct. Cash might be on the list, but not even in the first two lines.

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  4. He is clearly gud.

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  5. I need his contact.

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  6. I need his contact.

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  7. Eyy, he's a Uite.

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