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Writing not avenue for making money - Nigerian author

BY: Faith Ayorkor Mensah & Abigail Sedinam Kortiah
Samira Bawumia (right), wife of the Vice-President,  presenting a gift to Mary Bomaba, Business Administration student of the University of Ghana, at the event Picture: Maxwell Ocloo
Samira Bawumia (right), wife of the Vice-President, presenting a gift to Mary Bomaba, Business Administration student of the University of Ghana, at the event Picture: Maxwell Ocloo

A Nigerian author, Chigozie Obioma, has urged the youth to consider writing as a calling rather than an avenue to make money.

He said such a consideration would fuel their passion for writing and also lead them onto the path to success.

Mr Obioma was speaking at a writing seminar organised by the Samira Bawumia Literature Prize (SBLP), in collaboration with the English Department of the University of Ghana in Accra last Thursday on the theme: “Breaking through the global literature space: A conversation on the art and business of the writing craft.”

Event

The event was organised by the SBLP, an initiative of the Samira Empowerment & Humanitarian Projects (SEHP), an NGO, headed by the wife of the Vice-President, Samira Bawumia.

The literature prize was launched in 2019, where over 1,600 entries were received, out of which 30 winners were provided with cash prizes and books, with the top three winners in each of the categories receiving books, cash prizes and laptops.

Present at the event were the Dean of Student Affairs of the University of Ghana, Prof. Rosina Kyeremanten; the Member of Parliament for Ayawaso West Wuogon, Lydia Seyram Alhassan, and the acting Head of the English Department of the university, Dr Kwabena Opoku Agyeman.

Also in attendance were lecturers and students from various universities.

Purpose

According to the author, the main purpose for writing stories, particularly fiction, was to understand the world.

Mr Obioma, whose book, “The Fishermen”, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2015, further advised that writers should not be in a hurry to publish books, but must cultivate the habit of revising their work over a period of time before going to a publisher.

“The first draft is basically nonsense, you have to go back and rework it. Revise it over and over again,” he said, adding that they must learn from mentors in the field and also accept constructive criticisms.

Rejections, the author said, were part of a writer’s life. He, therefore, asked young writers to be patient and not give up in the face of rejections.

Storytelling

A Ghanaian writer, Dr Martin Egblewogbe, described the art of writing as a work of craft, skill, ingenuity, content and how the content was created.

“Stories have the power to predict how a society will turn out, and are used to carry coded warnings to people and the society,” he said.

Dr Egblewogbe said every author had a target audience in mind when writing a story and that “as a writer, target the audience of your neighbour who looks like you, speaks your language, likes you or even hates you. If the story works, neither time nor space can stop the propagation of the story.”

“Let our writing target us and others may pick it up just as we have picked others up,” he said.

Commitment

Mrs Bawumia said the SBLP was committed to celebrating and promoting people in the literature space.

She said her outfit would continue to nurture and provide the necessary support by creating an enabling environment for writers to develop and sharpen their skills.