What are you doing today, Saturday the 15th of September, 2012? I’ve just made a little trip, and I wish it was to Lagos, to support my friend Nze as he launches his book, ‘The Funeral Did Not End’; an in-depth review of the book is here.
Nze Sylva Ifedigbo is a friend, comrade, and more importantly, an extraordinary, award-winning writer who has written for Saturday Punch Youngster’s Page, The Nation, 234next, Nigeria Village Square, KOWA Party blog, Nigeria Dialogue among many others.
Interestingly, Nze has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, and is a member of the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association. Did I mention he’s good looking? And single? Yup! More reasons to pay attention to this interview!
So I can’t make the launch, but I can definitely share in his joy! Below is a very insightful interview, drawn from a last minute chat I had with him. Enjoy.
D Fairy GodSister: When I see, ‘the funeral did not end’ I think of Nigeria and the absolute tragedy she’s becoming by the day’. Was that your inspiration?
NZE SYLVA: In many ways, the title of the book is a metaphor for the general state of the country. We seem to exist in a funeral happening in present continuous tense. In truth, The Funeral Did Not End is the title of one of the stories in the collection which dwelt on real life funeral, our excessive celebration of it which in most cases leaves the living perpetually in mourning. Juxtapose that with the situation of Nigeria and you can draw a clear relationship.
D Fairy GodSister: *sigh* So with your book you capture the reality that is Nigeria. Does your book offer any hope?
NZE SYLVA: Yeah, the book is my effort to fictionalize social commentary which I believe will reach a wider audience, invoke a better appreciation of our issues and hopefully trigger a more pragmatic response. Certainly it offers hope. That the book made it out after long delays occasioned by the inadequacies of our system is hope in itself. But as a fiction writer, I do not necessarily preach a gospel of hope directly. I hope my readers who are discerning beings will dig in and pick the message for themselves.
D Fairy GodSister: I hope so too; hope the message isn’t lost on all of us. How long did it take to write?
NZE SYLVA: I wrote this between 2007 and 2010. There were stops and breaks in between but generally we can say it took 4 years and another 2 to be published.
D Fairy GodSister: Wow!! 6 years! Were there times you felt like, ‘I’m just going to leave this and do something else’? What helped you stay at it?
NZE SYLVA: You bet there were those times especially in the last 2 years after I had found a publisher, entered into a publishing agreement but the publication date got shifted by a whole year. You know, waiting is a very difficult thing to do and it is even more difficult for a writer waiting to see the birth of his creative effort. My publisher and I often joked during the wait that perhaps we jinxed ourselves by settling for that title… In between though I continued writing both my Op-ed columns and a new novel; they provided the staying power for me.
D Fairy GodSister: Awww! It’s finally here; you’re presenting your baby to the world in less than 12 hours. Are you nervous? What’s on your mind?
NZE SYLVA: Phew! How do I feel? Excited! Very excited and relieved. But nervous too. There is a measure of anxiety associated with these things. Suddenly you are not so sure if the world will love this baby of yours or appreciate the effort that went into it. However, my publisher DADA books in conjunction with Blues and Hills Consulting who represent me are planning what will be a fun time, not the usual drab and so much talk book launch we are used to. There is even an after party! I am looking forward to just relaxing and being in the spotlight this time.
D Fairy GodSister: I’m sure the launch is going to be wonderful, shame that I’m missing that, and the after party! Speaking of your publisher, most writers around these parts publish outside the country. What was the attraction to DADA, and what’s the relationship with them been?
NZE SYLVA: DADA Books is owned by a fantastic young man who is passionate about books and who is very interested in finding and developing Nigerian writers resident in Nigeria. Like you noted the more popular Nigerian fiction writers seem to be published abroad first, that is true. Indeed they also live abroad and in most cases get published here only when they’ve attained fame abroad. You know our people seem to want to wait for foreigners to endorse something before we begin to appreciate it here. Some what a number of publishers here do is republish these already successful names. The economics of this move is a no brainer. However Ayo Arigbabu of DADA Books risks his money on talents here and has so far done a good job with Onyeka Nwelue, Jumoke Verissimo, himself and Ruby Igwe the teenage author of a lovely children’s book. They chose me really. They were willing to invest in the book and I was happy to sign on.
D Fairy GodSister: When you’re not writing books, what do you do?
NZE SYLVA: I read (reading is the number one prerequisite for being a good writer). But I am also a huge Soccer fan and a follower of Manchester United. I do movies when there is one showing which at least 3 friends have attested is cool. And other times I am hanging out on twitter.
D Fairy GodSister: You won an essay writing competition recently, want to tell us about that?
NZE SYLVA: Yes. It was the National Orientation Agency (NOA) organised National Youth essay competition with the title “Strategies for taking the benefits of fuel subsidy savings to the highest number of Nigerians“ The essay was called sometime in Nov/Dec last year when the subsidy issue was still a national debate. The NOA felt the youths who constitute the largest segment in the country seemed left out of the national conversation at that point and the essay was a way of providing Nigerians below 30 a platform to air their views. I sent in an entry and won a grand prize. The award was sometime in May this year.
D Fairy GodSister: Congratulations!! Where’s my share o!
NZE SYLVA: Which share o? You abandoned us and ran to the UK!
D Fairy GodSister: Lol! Just say you’ve chopped it alone! Thank you for your time Nze, and I hope you have a fabulous time at the launch!
NZE SYLVA: Thank you Fairy GodSister!
- After the Long Wait – Sylva Nze Ifedigbo’s The Funeral Did Not End (parresiablog.wordpress.com)
- The Funeral Did Not End: social commentary at its best (7venhillsmedia.wordpress.com)
- GLAM THEM UP!!! The Entrepreneur – MISS OBIS DARBAS! (fairygodsister.wordpress.com)