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Q&A with Abidemi Sanusi

Abidemi Sanusi, a Nigerian author, will launch her book, Eyo later this evening, April 7, 2010, at the Nairobi Serena. Eyo, was nominated for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa. It tells the story of Eyo, a young Nigerian girl who is taken to the UK where she is turned into a sex slave. This book exposes the evils of human trafficking and it is a call on readers to make steps to bring an end to this vile trade. The book is published by WordAlive an indigenous Kenyan publisher. Maisha Yetu sent some questions to Abidemi and she graciously answered them below

Maisha Yetu: What does the Commonwealth prize nomination mean to you?

Abidemi Sanuni: The Commonwealth Prize means a great deal. It’s a prestigious Prize and to be nominated is an honour in itself.

The author in a book signing session

MY: In terms of modern literature Kenya is way behind Nigeria, especially in creative writing, yet you were published by a Kenyan, how did this come about?

AS: I wouldn’t say that Kenya is behind Nigeria in literature or indeed in anything! I facilitated a writing workshop at the University of Nairobi yesterday courtesy of the Department of Literature and I can honestly tell you Africa has a new generation of writers with experimental and innovative ways of bringing African literature to the global marketplace. In terms of meeting Wordalive, this was done through my literary agent. He submitted my manuscript to them and they liked it. The rest, as they say is history.

MY: Is there any hope of eradicating human trafficking especially child prostitution in Africa?

AS: There is always hope and a way to eradicate child trafficking in Africa. A wise person once said that evil thrived when men do nothing. As long as we do nothing about childtrafficking, it will continue to thrive.

MY: It took you seven years to write Eyo, why was it so important for you to write this book?

AS: Eyo was inspired by my time in the field as a human rights worker and also, child trafficking is a real problem in Nigeria. It’s a pandemic and writing Eyo was my way of raising awareness of the issue.

The book cover

MY: Reading Eyo one can tell that you put in a lot of research into this book, what would you tell up-coming authors who think they can dispense with research and yet expect their books to be well received.

AS: Research adds depth to a writer’s work. Without it, a book doesn’t quite satisfy and leaves the reader unfulfilled.

MY: How has Eyo been received in Nigeria?

AS: Eyo is not yet available in Nigeria

MY: Eyo was the only book, among the Commonwealth nominees, published by an indigenous African publisher, what does this say about African publishing – does it mean that African writers have no faith in their publishers?

AS: African publishing has suffered a great deal in the few decades or so but there is a new generation of publishers such as Wordalive in Kenya and Cassava Republic in Nigeria who are doing amazing work to restore African publishing and put African literature back where it belongs; with the people and accessible to the rest of the world.

MY: What do you think hinders the marketing of African books within Africa, yet books by Western writers are readily available all over Africa?

AS: There used to be a disdain for local literary talent caused in part by bad writing, atrocious editing and poor quality printing. Within this context, you can see why Africans didn’t support local writers. International writers are backed by well heeled western publishers who have the funds to market and promote their authors well in Africa and that is why you see their books in the African marketplace. But that is changing with people like Wordalive who are restoring African literature to its former glory.

MY: Any plans for writing a sequel to Eyo?

AS: There are no plans for a sequel.

6 replies on “Q&A with Abidemi Sanusi”

This is wonderful.I do not know about`Wordalive, but this is an opportunity for writers to deal directly with issues that bedevil the continent.It remainds of the Citizen Tv interview with the lawyer-poet,James Ogola.says:

Africa needs the issue-oriented books such as the one discussed in the interview.There writers with the ugly memories of sexual assault who should dissipate them in creative writing.There are East African writers who judges in international organisations who need to narrate their experiences in poetry.Some of our writers have a personal experience with the First Black Man in the White house.President Obama has written widely and as some critics now show he is master of the literary essay.How has he affected us as individual writers?

This is wonderful.I do not know about`Wordalive, but this is an opportunity for writers to deal directly with issues that bedevil the continent.It remainds of the Citizen Tv interview with the lawyer-poet,James Ogola.says:

Mbona sisi waandishi wa Kenya tunawadharau waandishi wa zama ambao wana umri mkubwa sasa? Mbona hatuna jambo kuhusu Grace Ogot, Ngugi wa Thi’ongo, na Micere Mugo.Kwani tumewasau sana Charles Mangua, David Gian Maillu, Hilary Ngw’eno,Khadambi Asalache,na Barbara Kimenye.Huu ni upumbavu gani unatufanya sisi wanakenya kusahau wenzetu ambao walitangulia kule mbeleni kuifadhi ufasihi wetu?Mbona waandishi vijana wanawadharau hao waandishi wetu wa jana? Nieleze kuna mambo yote dunia hii ambayo haina mbele au nyuma?
chrisman letters

I read Eyo last November and it blew me away. Mostly because it brought the issue right back home we think it is not here but the issue is right at our door step.
What a great job done by Abidemi and the publisher too. The book is beautiful and very engaging.
Justice James Ogoola SONGS OF PARADISE….is another beautiful piece of work from WordAlive.
I think we Africans should embrace the talent we have among us and start to shine.
Abidemi and WordAlive did us proud at the commonwealth writers award.
We should see more talent soon

Africa, to drift from the literary slumber that has persisted over the years, need issue oriented writer like Eyo.

when we work to eradicate vices in Africa, one point stands out clear, we most of the time fail to do a thorough follow up hence the gains that are made runs into waste. this is the point.

i think i like african works expecially their style of writing. technologically, i also do hope for better improvement in terms of culture, beauty and styles depicted in their works.

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