Today’s hangout will be with a former classmate who I share a passion for writing with. He loves writing about politics and justice. Please welcome Chidiebere Okoroji from Imo State, Nigeria. If you follow my blog you might have seen his poems. So in this post, I’ll ask him some questions about his private life and his work.
OI: Welcome Chidiebere, can we get to know you better?
CAO: Thanks. Well, I’m Chidiebere A. Okoroji, from Imo state Nigeria. Presently, a PhD student at the National Open University of Nigeria. A Writer and a Poet. I think I’m many things (Smiles). I’m an Omnist, one who believes in all religion, I don’t discriminate because I feel every religion speak the truth. I so much affirm humanity as the most paramount to all these ideologies. At the same time a traditionalist. I use the word “Ancestrian” to qualify myself when referencing my strong beliefs in the customs and traditions of my forefathers. This day, tradition is fading, and we need to tell stories that will keep some of these norms ad values for the next generation to practice and uphold. Finally, I reside in Lagos.
OI: Can you tell us more about your work?
CAO: Well, I’m a writer. A published Writer on Amazon, Selar Bookney, and Okadabooks to name a few. You can search for my name online. My works are there. My first novel The Engrieved and its sequel, Aberration was written to enlighten young minds about the future, especially in the area of trust. The novel is set in both a city and a village. It is a great read. I didn’t publish it online, but there are a few stores here in Lagos. I published another Novel in 2020 during the pandemic titled “Darkened Yellow” the novel is a true-life story and events inspired by my mother and the events of the Biafra war. It’s an emotional story. The book is on Amazon, Okadabooks, and Bookney to name a few. Then this year, I published the most anticipated novel, ‘A Nation in Crisis” this novel is published this year cos of the election because it focuses on the events happening in Nigeria. It is inspired by true events and life stories. I wrote this novel with the thought that, I can at least awaken the youth’s consciousness especially in making the right decisions for our country. We should be tired of recycled politicians who don’t only destroy the country, but constantly create animosity among us through their ethnic, tribal and religious politics. I hope young people read the novel. I self publish my works and still hoping to be fully published by publishing firms (Smiles).
OI: Do you think that poetry can play role in gender equality and freedom fighting?
CAO: Yes of course. Poetry awakes our consciousness. Tell our stories to strangers. Poetry redefines cultural traits. Strength our humanity and how we see our environment. Poetry is life in itself. Poetry is a message of social justice. It triggers our emotions which give way to self-reflection. Poets like Matthew English used his works to send strong messages on gender equality. We have Shraddha Shraddha the poetess who used her work to speak on gender equality and equity. We also have Rupi Kaur to name a few. So yes, poetry shapes everything from politics to society, and care for humanity. These words used also positive influences freedom fighting. Martin Luther King Jr did the same while fighting for social justice for black Americans. Poetry redefines our very existence.
OI: What’s your best work yet?
CAO: Hahaha!!! Do I have one yet? I feel my best is yet to come. I really can’t say what my best work will be because the more we keep writing, the better skilled and experienced we are and that also moulds our writing pattern and perception. But, right now, A Nation in Crisis is my best work yet. It speaks directly to young people, politics and corruption to name a few. I look forward to being published internationally.
OI: Do you think poetry is overrated in Africa?
CAO: The truth is, social media has taken up the minds of young ones. Pupils or student barely reads. No one is truly interested in literature like we were growing up. I read novels from several countries, including South Africa, and Ghana to name a few. We used to read that day with lanterns because we were so interested in shaping our minds and being conscious of our society. If we don’t read, all these vices will be the norm of the day. And the government isn’t doing anything to improve the standards of education and that’s why there is a strike from our institution. So poetry is underrated. When a book is voluminous, that zeal to read immediately drops. We need to do better. I think some of the things that can energize this attitude is if we have reputable Awards in literature as we have in music here in Africa, where young authors can submit and showcase their works and have a fair chance to win. This will give the needed audience for poetry to strive in Africa.
OI: Who is your favourite writer, poet and actor?
CAO: Ha! This is something. Well, for a Writer, Chinua Achebe remains number one. Followed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I also love Wole Soyinka’s works just the grammar is too much (Smiles). For Poet. I love Wole Soyinka because he focuses on traditional settings. One of his works published in 1981 Ake remains my favourite. Then you have another, Poem of Black Africa. My favourite actor is Pete Edochie. His interpretation of roles is unique. He is a born actor as far as Nigeria is concerned. Well, I also love Samuel L. Jackson.
OI: Have you travelled to any African Countries? If not, where will you like to go first if you have the chance?
CAO: I’ve travelled to a few neighbouring countries. I have been to Ghana. It was a short trip to Wapoga polytechnic games. I also went to Togo. One of my sisters married from there. Was in Lome precisely. I’ve also been to the Niger Republic, a trip we had during our National youth service. I served in Kebbi state so Niger shares a border with Kebbi. Africa is blessed just that our leaders are greedy and selfish. Clueless and incompetent. I will love to go to Ethiopia, Gambia Rwanda, or Mali, there is one that shares a border with Rwanda, I’ve forgotten the name of that country, and Bobi Wine is one of the freedom fighters.
OI: Uganda you mean?
CAO: Yes, Uganda. I love those countries. I follow their activities on Facebook and Twitter.
OI: What’s your take on grooming young talents in poetry?
CAO: It’s the only way forward. I started the Triple C Club which focuses on moulding young talents in Literature. We expanded to http://schoolconnectafrica.com to give a larger coverage of our services and narrowed the name to http://Schoolplug.ng where we want to connect students and teachers. I’ve also been a strong supporter of an organization known as “Rising Young Author” you can check their page on Facebook. Mrs Chibuzor is doing marvellous work. And a few others too. The government also need to do more in giving wider awareness to poetry and encouraging young authors.
OI: What do you do when you’re not writing?
CAO: I watch movies, read or play football. I love sports a lot. It’s another form of poetry for me (Smiles) I also go out to the beach or cinema for the fun of it. Aside from my job.
OI: You’re a significant part of #EndSars Movement. Do you want to talk about it?
CAO: Yes. I am those few people that weren’t noticed in that Lekki toll gate gathering (smiles). We were there not for solidarity but to send a strong message to both the police and the government that we are tired of the injustice. The harassment and killing of innocent people by police in general, not just the unit Sars. We are also tired that the country isn’t improving. High cost of living. Inflation here and there. Insecurity to name a few, yet the government and their lackadaisical attitude towards these things are overwhelming. I was sad, bittered and emotional that after the movement, little or nothing was done. I penned down a Poem this week on Black Liberation and cited this atrocity mounted on us in the name of Governance. I feel, that Africa isn’t ripe for Democracy. We should rather have a mixed Democratic and military system which I tag as a Demo military system of government, where we have the president as head while the vice president is the head of the armed forces. Both of them should be in charge. I just don’t know, I just want things to be better.
OI: Any advice to fellow African youth?
CAO: Be outstanding. The world is changing. Be smart because tomorrow will be different. The youth needs to be focused to build a continent worth staying in. These days, people are fleeing their countries, paying heavily for that. We need to take charge and take over from these old politicians.
OI: Can you share links to your work?
CAO: Sure. Thanks. Hope they buy my book.