Thursday, 14 April 2016

Chukwu John David on his first novel, African Dark Light

At twenty his first novel African Dark Light is busy making waves. The novel which is set to be launched on 7 July 2016 at Telavi State University, Georgia is about a war between Nri and Arochukwu, two ancient cities in Igbo land, the East part of Nigeria. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon and is published by Inner Child Press in the US. This is one fit one wouldn't expect from Chukwu considering that he is from and grew up in Ebonyi state, one of the education less developed states in Nigeria. A state almost synonymous with stupidity, as people from the state are assumed to be stupid and good for nothing. Chukwu has managed to set himself apart and set the record straight, that good can arise from Ebonyi state. He, amidst the hardship surrounding his life has been able to come this far. He has some of his short-stories published in other languages aside the English Language. In this exclusive interview, he revealed reasons behind his passion for writing and trust me, this is worth your read.   

What is the book African Dark Light about? : African Dark Light is a book about Africa — Nigeria — the Igbo tribe, and a rural clan. The book was written to remind the deeds of Africa in the late 20th century, and to put up an enlightenment about the ignorance of Africans that died in the old. African Dark Light is simply an epic reminder of ancient tradition, gods, and story of Africa, set to tell the African mythology.   

What inspired the story, you could have written a story on more recent events? : The zeal to write African Dark Light came when books were the only things I knew how to hawk to survive and make a  living. Arochukwu, the clan where African Dark Light is set, is a village in Abia State. During that time I travelled to Abia State to distribute few local books to the readers, I ran into the home of a titled man in the clan, where I saw many carved symbols of deities. This titled man was the one who first explained to me the importance of native deities, and why he worshipped them. There and then, I discovered that the late African tradition which I thought was aborted, is still being practiced, in fact; it is still strongly alive. So I decided to bring this issue up, however telling it as a story and presenting the supreme God whom should be worshipped on the entire earth.

What do you mean by going to hawk books as to survive and earn a living? : As it stands wholely, one must have a job or business through which he survives. So I hawked books back then as my business, to survive and earn a living. Hawking books paid my school fees, house rent, NEPA bills, bought my clothes, and all that.

How about your parents? : My parents are fine as they are, right in their home. You know? I came from a polygamous family where everyone builds his own future.

What role does your family play in this step you have decided to take? : My family actually has no big role to play, except the prayers and encouragements they give me occasionally.

Why publish in the US and how did you pull it off? : I decided to first publish in the US because I needed an international voice to announce my forthcoming books. I wrote AFRICAN DARK LIGHT between the space of two years, 2011-2013. It was very difficult to find a foreign publisher, but not until I came across Inner Child Press through Google in 2015 and signed a deal with them.

If you weren't writing, what else would you have been doing? : Playing football. I handle football very well whenever I decide to play with it. In fact; I wanted to spend my life playing football. This really can give life too. *laughs*

What prompted your decision to become a writer? : This is my talent, my purpose. In fact; I reach out to people far and near with writing. I write to illuminate minds, enlighten men, and to educate brains.   

As a young Nigerian writer, what challenges do you face and how do you handle them? : Procrastination was my biggest problem or challenge, not until I defeated it many years ago. And now, I think my biggest challenge is electricity in the type of rural area I live in. To a writer like me who writes with laptop, it is always head-cracking to fuel my generator and write as there is no always and steady electricity.. That is; electricity is my greatest challenge for now.

How do you respond when people regard you as too young to be a writer? : I would simply take a soft laughter with myself and then feel this great enthusiasm to press forward, towards my literary achievements. So when people address me as a young writer, I don't feel quite bad, so long as I know I have something to offer through African literature. You see? *laughs*

Ebonyi state is not one of the places one could expect a young talented writer as you are, to spring up. What would you say about that? : Ebonyi State has always been seen at the bottom of Nigeria literature. But not anymore. We are producing talented writers. And I do not think Ebonyi State is bound to raise successful writers. I am from Ebonyi State, and so I am not bound to become one of the successful writers from this State.   

How were you able to weave your story around Nri and Arochukwu, two towns in Anambra state and Abia state respectively considering where you are from and where you grew up? : Arochukwu is a clan in Abia State, and Nri is one from Anambra State. I was able to weave a very fierce fictitious war between these two clans due to the relationship they have built within the time of the old. These two clans are worth telling in African Dark Light.   

What is the place of research in story telling? : Research is very vital while telling, especially a historical story. The information you provide in the story tells the plot of your story. However, research is very relevant in order to paint beautiful pictures with  your story.   

From your own experiences how do you suggest that writers should handle writers block? : Writers can handle this issue first, through determination. The mind has to be made up to handle it before hard-work can be applied.   

What is your view about Nigerians' attitude to the creative writing industry? : Nigerians' attitudes toward the creative writing industry are in 'higgledy-piggledy'. Nigerians do not show much commitment to the creative writing industry, and this cannot lead the industry to anywhere meaningful. However, we should all start to cultivate good manners toward this industry.   

How is your work influenced by Nigerians perceived lack of interest in books? : My work is never influenced by any Nigerian. The work is influenced by my passion. In this sense, I am writing to both white and black skins, not only Nigerians.   

What sustains your interest in writing? : My passion and zeal.

What makes you passionate and zealous about writing? : Because I know I have a purpose to fulfil. This zeal instigates me to write more and do more. This zeal to write comes mostly whenever I have a message to pass across. So my passion and zeal are inspired by the reason I was put to earth — my purpose.

Your role model(s)  : *laughs softly* .During my interview with Pen Egg, India; I told them that I have no role model(s) — not at all. But if there should be any, I so much admire Chinua Achebe!   

Your words to other young writers : Keep writing, it will surely pay someday. Fellow writers, avoid procrastination, it destroys creativity.

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