Two writers and a singer/songwriter – Theophilus Abbah, Paul Liam and Christy Makut – will share the spotlight in the February 22 edition of the Abuja Writers’ Forum’s Guest Writer Session at the Nanet Suites, Abuja.
Theophilus Abbah began his journalistic career as an international affairs reporter with the newspaper Punch in Lagos, and currently works as a newspaper Editor of the Sunday Trust in Abuja. He is a past winner of the Forum for African Investigative Reporters Editor’s Courage Award, and a finalist in 2012 Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalism Award in the print category.
Abbah’s creative writing forays began with his short stories appearing in the Sunday New Nigerian, from1985 while he was in secondary school. Having come under the influence of novels published under the Pacesetters series, he wrote several unpublished novels. After reading some of them, his mentors encouraged him to study English Language in the university, leading to a degree course at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
According to Abbah, “The most exciting day in my life was not my wedding day. It was the day I received three author’s copies of an anthology in which my short story appeared. It was in 1993, and I was in a lecture hall. When I opened the parcel, the class exploded in joy and the lecturer brought the session to an end, celebrating the young writer in his class.”
His recently published his first novel, Lost in the Wind, based on his coverage of sectarian violence in Nigeria. He had started the draft in 1991 and it soon grew into a 500-page work, full of tears and emotion. It was a raw story of the victims of sectarian violence. But as he read more works and came under the influence of Dan Brown, it occurred to him that a good work in this age has to be rich in investigation and insight. So he kept reworking the draft over the years.
He credits his brother, Sunday Abbah, for kick-starting the novel’s publishing process. “In 2007, he took one of the computer printouts to Lagos. He read it in three days. His Ghanaian friend picked it from his house. After reading it, he put a call through to me, saying he wept after reading my work. A friend who read the book called me at midnight to ask why I didn’t publish Lost in the Wind. It was at this point that I sent the book to a publisher in Ibadan.”
Though Abbah’s book, which was nominated for the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA’s) award for prose fiction in 2013, didn’t win the prize, one of the judges, a professor, said the book is “highly engaging and explosive.”
Paul T. Liam is the Assistant Secretary, Association of Nigerian Authors, Niger state chapter, mentor and public relations manager of the Hilltoparts Centre, Minna. He is a literary columnist with the Niger state newspaper Newsline. He is a prolific poet, critic, essayist, book reviewer and author of the poetry collection, Indefinite Cravings. He has written and published several works in the national dailies. He writes and reports for the Niger state government through publications such as the Interpreter, Impact magazine and other publications. He has been involved with organising literary events in Niger state such as the Annual Schools Carnival of Arts and Festival of Songs (ASCAFS), ANA/Yusuf Ali Reading Campaign, ANA Niger Read to a Child Campaign 2008, ANA Niger Writers’ Spell, Teen Authors’ Flash, among others.
Liam is the coordinator of the ANA Niger bi-monthly guest writers’ programme, ‘Writers’ Spell’. He coordinated the radio programme, ‘Hilltoparts Reveals’ on Crystal FM 91.2, last year. He is the coordinator and anchor of the Hilltoparts Centre’s monthly programme, ‘Teen Authors’ Flash’. He is also part of the Annual Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (MBA) Literary Colloquium. He co-edited the children anthology Dewdrops, published by the Hilltoparts Centre and is the head, ‘‘Interpreter’’ a publication of the Niger State Book Development Agency.
His first book of poetry, Indefinite Cravings, is currently being studied by the students of Niger State College of Education, Minna, and his second collection of poetry, Saint Sha’ade and Other Poems is currently in the press. He is also the Director, Literary and Concept Development, Symptlight Services Ltd, a new outfit.
Born in Kaduna state, singer and songwriter, Christiana Makut is the third of five children born to retired Air Force officer, Wing Commander Caleb Makut, and a teacher, Sarah Makut. She spent her early days on the Air Force Base in Ikeja, Lagos.
Broadcasting was never really a serious consideration for her while growing up, even though she has always been interested in literature and enjoyed learning English.
After secondary school, she gained admission to study Economics at the University of Abuja, where she developed an interest in International Trade.
In her own words: “I love music, and I love to swim when I find the time. I also enjoy reading a really good book. I’m a broadcaster who started out with Cool Fm, Abuja, in 2008, and then pioneered Nigeria Info Lagos alongside a few of my colleagues.…I am a sucker for humour!”
Her musical instrument of choice is the guitar.
The Guest Writer Session, which started in June 2008, holds at the prestigious Nanet Suites, located at the Central Business District in Abuja, and runs from 4-7pm on the last Saturday of every month. It also features side attractions of poetry performance, mini art exhibition, a raffle-draw for books, and a stirring dose of live music.