Chibundu Onuzo talks to Tundun Adeyemo

Chibundu Onuzo, author of the Spider King’s Daughter is a distinguished ambassador of Nigeria.  She was voted the best Black student in 2012 at a ceremony in Parliament. The novel, published in 2012, is her debut and the first part of a two-book deal with Faber and Faber. A first class graduate of History from Kings College, London, she is also a contributory writer to the Guardian (UK). She has been interviewed by CNN, BBC amongst other international media.  Multitalented Onuzo who wishes to work in advertising, also plays the piano for her church in Brent Cross, London. She took some time to talk to Tundun Adeyemo.

You are a celebrated writer. Have you always been interested in writing and literature?
Always is a long time. I don’t imagine as a baby I was much interested in literature. I’ve been told that in those first years of my life, I was more concerned with chewing the pages of books than deciphering the words in them. But once I was taught to read, I remember enjoying it immensely. I soon discovered the art of reading silently without sounding the words and from then, I was off. I could sit for hours reading and it was an interest that my parents encouraged. There was always an ample supply of books lying around the house.

One of my favourite subjects in primary school was composition. I really loved those essays where we had to describe what we’d done over our summer holidays. Of course in mine, there would always be some jara. I would add a little maggi to make the story sweeter.

How have you handled your popularity (fame)? In other words, what keeps you humble?

Well as I’m not exactly famous, there’s not much to handle. I’ve been recognised in the street only once and this was so unexpected and flattering that I instantly became a fan of my fan. I’m just starting out. I’m still learning and pride isn’t a useful attribute in an apprentice. You’re always learning and re-seeing things as a writer. Once you started thinking you’ve arrived, you’re probably past your peak.

 Aside of writing and blogging, what else do you enjoy doing?
I sing and I play the piano. For about a year now, I’ve been playing at my church in London and it’s been a great experience. The band there is very professional and they’ve really pushed me. I’m also a quintessential Nigerian in Diaspora. I love everything to do with Nigeria and I scour for news of the country on the internet. I regularly live stream Channels evening news and I follow many journalists based in Lagos and Abuja. At every opportunity I get, I talk about politics to anyone and anything that will listen.
Aside of Christianity and your church, what motivates you?                      

Motivation is an odd thing to unravel. Being alive is motivation enough for pursuing your goals. Sometimes, not every day, but sometimes I wake up and it hits me, I’m alive and some of my classmates are dead. I’m only twenty one but I know people who haven’t made it to this age and it galvanizes me. You understand the wisdom of David when he says in Psalms, teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

If you could tell the President of Nigeria anything, what would it be and why?

I would say to him, Mr. President I would have voted for you if I was resident in Nigeria in the 2011 elections. You set a new trend in democracy in our country. You made it populist, you made the people feel for the first time that their voices had been heard at the ballot and you also brought the resource control hat back into fashion. Now it’s time to set more lasting trends. We want anti-corruption to become fashionable again as it was under Murtala Mohammed. We want poverty alleviation to trend as it did under Lateef Jakande. And where there has been no marked precedent, we want you to blaze the trail. And one last thing, Mr. President, sack some of your advisers and start listening to the shoeless.

 Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? What are you currently working on?
Alive, by God’s grace. I’m working on my second book and I’m also applying for a placement in advertising and I also very much want to move back to the motherland in a couple of years and put my hands to the plough. This nation building requires hard work and sweat from all of us. So I suppose, in short, we’ll see.

 Who are your heroes? Have you any?
My parents are definitely two people I look up to. They have walked the talk quietly and with little fanfare for the twenty one years I have known them. So many people have graduated because of their sponsorship, so many have lived in our house, so many have benefitted from their lives. Last year, my mother started a charity school in G.R.A called Little Acorns. Both she and my father live on the principle that it is better to give than receive.

You are well travelled and well educated, any special memory you want to share?

I’m not as well travelled as I want to be. Certainly in the future I would like to travel more within Nigeria. I’m hoping my NYSC year will give me this opportunity. Just in case the person who handles posting is reading this, please send me to either Ondo or Ekiti. I would love to see firsthand what Governor Mimiko and Governor Fayemi are doing because I’ve heard many good things.

As to fun travel memories, my father is Igbo and so we all went to Ubulu, our village, every Christmas and we loved it, including my Yoruba mother. We would go and see the masquerades dance in the village square and once, a particularly ferocious one chased my cousins and I with a whip. We were so scared, we ran into the first house we saw. It belonged to a complete stranger who thankfully, had left his house unlocked. We ran in and bolted the door until the masquerade gave up and left. Just the fact that we sheltered in a stranger’s house with no fear and no need to ask permission, reminds me of all the things I love about our people.
 
Your parents must be proud of you. How does this make you feel?
Thankful. I respect my parents a lot and I just pray that the only tears my life will ever bring to them will be tears of joy.
p.s: This interview was first published in 2013.

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Anita Duckworth-Bradshaw on Outspoken!

I promised you a couple of weeks ago, that I was going to have Anita Bradshaw on Outspoken! So here it is. It is my pleasure to welcome you into Anita’s world. So who is Anita Bradshaw? If you have not previously heard about her,  Anita Bradshaw is the author of three books: ‘The Giant Within Us’, ‘The Road to Discovery: ultimate personal development’ and  ‘Woman the Power House’. There is more to Anita though, Anita is also a qualified Business & Life coach, mentor, trainer and consultant. She hosts the Quarterly Greater London Business Dinner in Croydon which has made great strides since it was established. Anita wears many hats, she is a woman to emulate, in this interview, she talks to Tundun Adeyemo about her  latest best seller, ‘The Giant Within US’ and the purpose behind her writing. Enjoy reading!
Give us three ‘good to know’ facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about the inspiration for your writing and any other fun details.
a. I’m innovative –
b. I  don’t sit on ideas for too long – most times, people talk about what they want to do and end up not doing those things. In my line of calling, I believe God trusted my to action the great ideas he puts in me. ACTION IS MY MANTRA.
c. I’m a goal setter – you can refer to me as ‘A FUTURE MINDED INDIVIDUAL’. Any individual or business without goals are living their lives/business to chance. By setting goals, you become aware of your destination and this acts as a navigator towards your future achievement.
   What are people saying about your book? Why should we buy ‘The Giant Within Us’.
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The Giant Within Us is an incredible piece of work written by 20 incredible women from across the globe of which I conceived and executed the project to completion. This book has touched so many lives through the stories of these women. I feel so privileged to have complied as well as contributed to this work. This book became a BEST-SELLER within 24 hours of it’s launch in June 2014. The Launch (Virtual) attracted over 6,000 people globally.

It’s important for people especially women to read this book because every story in this book affects a lot of people in our global society. From Abuse, domestic violence, cancer, addiction, child labour, fitness, disability, self-discovery and many more. It’s a global book written by global women who believe in making the world a better place through their work.
What three books are on your bedside table waiting to be read?Three book on my table are:

 Eat The Frog by Brian Tracy, Twelve Pillars by Jim Rohn, The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason
Is there a message in your books, you want your readers to grasp?
One of the message is:  “A runner must run with Dreams in his heart and not money in his pocket.” Also, having a dream/idea is more powerful than any other desire in the world.
What book have most influenced your life most?The book that has most influenced me is: ‘The Magic Of Thinking Big’ by David J. Schwartz.

What book are you reading now? MINDSTORE by Jack Black

What are you working on at the moment?
I have in the pipeline two other books which will be out within 12 months from now. I’m not just an author, I’m a qualified business & Life coach, mentor, trainer and consultant. I run two successful businesses ( La Proverbs & Woman The Powerhouse). There are more to me than just being an author. I have also written other personal development books which can be found on Amazon or www.authorhouse.co.cuk
What was the hardest part of writing your book? Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The hardest part of this particular project was when I decided to change publishers. This resulted in a semi-legal battle and this resulted in some of my co-authors pulling  out of the project. I lost over $7,000 dollars during this process. It was one of my biggest learning curve which of course, served it purpose. 

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
This book is one of the best present you can give to those in your circle of influence and association. There’s something fro everyone.
How is this world a better place because of your book?
 The World is a better place because of my work because I have just received an Award for my effort in shining light for others to see and take a giant step towards becoming more than they already are. My work is part of my calling/purpose in life and thank God I discovered at an earlier age.
For more about Anita, please click the link.
For Anita’s books, click the link.
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