Thursday, May 10, 2018

My Journey to Becoming an Author

I wrote my first poem while in primary five, somebody who does not know the state of education in Nigeria 1970-80s will wonder what is special about that. The standard of schools was poor, I never knew or saw a computer until 1996 and computer operators were horrible. When she is through with your manuscript you will be wondering who is the author. This is because of too many errors in the typing. It was under this circumstance that I dared to write “How to be Delivered and Remain Delivered”- Peace Press, Owerri-Nigeria 1998.
Before this time I have written novels books that were never published; The Beast and My Defense of Abortion. I got the former typed and posted to Macmillan Publishers; they wrote back that they were sorry they would not be able to publish because it did not meet their area of interest at the time. They sent the manuscript as special parcel which required I had to go to the post office to get it. I cannot remember doing so. I walked from one part of Onitsha to another part of Awka in my effort to get somebody publish my books. What did I do to locate a publisher? I read signboards, anywhere I see Publish or Publisher I walked in. Unlike today, I did not know that most of those places were printer-consultants. They know nothing about books.
I went into script writing and Mr. Cyril Nzekwe of the theater group named “Cenzo Theater group”, a comedy/drama group contracted me to write their scripts. . I wrote the script for their stage name, “Danfos and Company” and my scripts were used to inaugurate the group in National Theater Lagos and Bolingo Hotels Onitsha and a lot of other places. Unfortunately, Mr. Cyril Nzekwe never kept his words to pay for the scripts. That is a story for another day.
Motivated by the result I had with Cenzo Theater Group I continued writing. I wrote many poems, drama and novels, all this under some kind of pressure. Being Igbo and only surviving son of my mother, my people wanted me to go into business and make quick money. My whole person rejected this proposal. I knew my life and destiny was not tuned for this. In my search for like minds, I stumbled into Nicholas Onuigbo who ran a printing consultancy at Bright Street, Onitsha. He recognized my potentials and offered to work with me. One day I came home and all my manuscripts has disappeared. It was later I learned that my sisters had burned them up. They were not comfortable with my addiction for writing and felt I was going crazy. It was an experience that I have not recovered from. Poems I wrote to help tell my story, like “Beggarly Boy”, “Homeless  Lad”, “Envy” and scripts of plays and drama I wrote that some day they will be my reference point were all burnt up. Honestly every time I remember the loss of those scripts tears still gather in my eyes.
1996 I left Onitsha and moved over to Owerri where I had more independence and also met like minds who were interested in books. I know things have improved but frankly the level of illiteracy in Onitsha in those was alarming. But in Owerri I met other authors and people who were interested in books. It was there that I first saw computer. I wrote my first, second and third books in Owerri.
Understand that I repented and surrendered my life to Christ in Onitsha, so the focus and titles of my books change. My earlier writings painted gory pictures of my life of hopelessness and frustration. They kept painting the image of a young man struggling to discover himself and the struggles with a society that was trying to reprogram me to something I was convinced I was not meant to be. But I when I gave my life to Christ, the Holy Spirit took over. In fact, it was in response to a revelation from the Holy Spirit that I moved out of Onitsha and to Owerri. Here importance of divine direction is portrayed as very important. God knew what He created me to be and He knew where I will fit in more appropriately and He directed me there. There I met Doctor B C Mbata of Totalcare Medical Center, a man who loved books and kept a large library. Most things I know today and the books that formed the foundation for my Christian life were gotten from his library. There I also I met Joy. One may wonder what my marrying Joy has to do with my writing ministry. Joy encouraged me, supported me and created conducive atmosphere for me to continue to write even when we had four children while living in one room in a noisy neighborhood. There were occasions I want to run out of home to put down an inspiration, she assisted me. Joy never wrote a book but without her support my story would have been different.
My change of spiritual status also reflected in change of company. So even though I now have educated friends they were not educated atheists; they were people who contributed immensely to my destiny. These included the WAST team. West African School of Theology pioneered and headed by Dr. Gary Maxey, himself an author of several books. Fyne Nsofor, Peter Ozodo, Prince Antai, Ben Umezinwa etc. It was like “Bones meeting their Bones”. WAST hosted my wedding even though I was not a student then and their bookshop sold my books. This can also be explained as the result of change of focus for my writings. Yes, I was now a Christian literature writer, my first three books written while in Owerri are, How to be Delivered and Remain Delivered, Prayer that God Must Answer and Pastor Lucas’ Church


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