Wole Adedoyin is Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Public Relations Officer, South and President, Society of Young Nigerian Writers. In this interview with IBRAHIM RAMALAN, he speaks on his role as ANA spokesperson and the association’s preparedness to host the forthcoming ANA-FUNAI conference in Ebonyi state.
You are one of ANA’s public relations officers, how has the job been?
Well, let me first of all thank the Almighty God for making it possible for me to clinch that position, and then Mallam Denja Abdulahi and Dr. Wale Okediran. These are the two people God used for me to get that position.
I wasn’t interested in the position at first but Mallam Denja Abdulahi’s literary activities in his first year spurred my interest to contest in the election which brought me in as ANA National P.R.O, South, in Benue State.
Mallam Denja’s first term as ANA President was great, but there was nobody to publicise his achievements. Had it been the two ANA PROs (South and North) then were active in getting across his achievements to ANA members and general public like we are doing now, then ANA members and the general public would have known that he did wonderfully well during his first tenure.
Before becoming ANA’s PRO I thought there was no big deal in that position because of the ways in which my predecessors ran their offices. I thought you would just come to meetings and post whatever they sent to you on Facebook.
It was when I got there that I saw that ANA’s work is more than what I thought it to be. Our job is not only to project the activities of the National, but also the state chapters because some of the state chapters do not have ability/capacity to handle some publicity situation.
Some of them also have limited followership and projection unlike the national.
Do you have any challenge?
No challenges at all. My President has given us all the necessary resources and tools for our works. Not only that, he also gave us free space to operate, but in line with the constitution of the association.
I’ve never worked under a great leader like Mallam Denja Abdulahi. He is a great literary organizer and a supporter of arts. He follows protocols and carries us along in matters related to the progress of the association.
I am really fortunate to serve under him and with pride, I can boldly tell you that Mallam Denja Abdulahi is running a transparent and an accountable association.
ANA-FUNAI Conference and Creative Workshop is coming up on June 18, in Ebonyi state and it is within your province as the PRO, South. How prepared is ANA?
The event of June 18, is mainly on creative writing workshop and interactive conference. It aims at articulating as well as interrogating new trends and the stylistic evolutions of Nigerian literature in the 21st century.
Almost every day I call the president to know our level of preparedness. I am assuring you that the way our just concluded Yusuf Ali Literary Campaign went well is the same way this forthcoming ANA-FUNAI Conference and Creative Workshop will go.
On the issue of publicity for the conference, three newspapers including, Blueprint Newspapers, have carried the news and we are still running concurrent publicity on our social media platforms and other medium.
What is the importance of the conference and workshop to writers and the general public?
There will be a mouth-watering conference and workshop for writers across the country and beyond. I assure you that the participants will be given a run for their money.
I can recall that this will be the fourth workshop from the offerings of Mallam Denja Abdulahi. Recall that during his first tenure, he organised and facilitated the first ever ANA’s National Teen Authorship Conference in Imo state, followed by the first ever ANA’s National Strategic Workshop held in Nasarawa state, which gave birth to ANA’s Strategic Plan Document, that is now similar to ANA’s constitution.
The third is the just concluded ANA/YUSUF Ali Literary Campaign Workshop held in Kwara state, though it is the only one I attended, Dr. Wale Okediran and two other guest speakers wowed the participants citing their experiences, challenges and breakthrough in their lectures which were great, educative and informative.
At the end, each participant was given certificate of participation. We are taking this next event into an academic community, so expect the best.
You have been involved in numerous literary initiatives specially targeted at younger minds. What inspired these initiatives?
Of course I derived my inspiration while mingling and working with them and don’t forget the fact that I was once like them and I am still one of them.
I once passed this stage and whenever I remember my past I think of them. If I see one of them in need, I assist. Some of them even come to me to tell me their challenges, experiences and needs. I always do my best to support and if there is anyone above my capacity, I always send them to Dr. Wale Okediran for literary support.
How well would you say the initiatives have been received and what is the impact among young writers?
It has been very impactful. Our quarterly creative writing workshop which started in 2011 has trained over 1,000 young writers.
Also, our annual E-Anthology Project, which was started when Prof. Remi Raji clocked 50 years, has published over 500 young writer’s works. You can get some of these publications on www.obooko.com.
Our annual 2,000 E-books project for Secondary Schools has also allowed us to establish E-Libraries in some selected secondary schools in Oyo and Osun states respectfully. Our annual Fagunwa Day project has recognized, published, awarded and rewarded over 100 students in 45 secondary schools in Oyo state.
The Read Across Nigerian (RAN) is another fantastic project. We have had two editions of the project in honour of Dr. Wale Okediran and Hajiya Hafsat.
The 2016 edition of the project took readings to 23 states of the federation. It was done in conjunction with some ANA Chapters.
The National Week for the Recognition of Departed Writers (NAWRED) is a project that was initiated last year with the aim of recognizing departed Nigerian writers. It was an online (social media) programme where we exhibited 100 outstanding departed writers with their pictures and profiles. We currently have like 200 outstanding departed writers (both young and old) in our archives.
You are also one of the promoters of literature in local languages. Why do you have interest in literature in indigenous languages?
I have unpublished works in Yoruba language. It always pains me whenever I see young writers especially secondary school students who could not write or read Yoruba language fluently.
This is the gap we wanted to bridge by organizing our annual Fagunwa Day event. During the event, we are to speak, write and read Yoruba throughout the day.
The reading and writing competitions are impromptu. We always give them reading and writing materials and the topics they are going to write on, on the day of the competition. We have supports from the Nelson Publishers, Fagunwa Foundation and University Press (formerly known as Oxford Publishers) and individual supports.
We need more than reading and writing. I am currently delving into animation (I am also a computer scientist). I am currently experimenting and transforming Late J.F. Odunjo’s folktales into animation. You know the Ijapa and Yanibo’s stories.
My friend, who is an artist and also specializes in same field is currently giving me a helping hand. We are also exploring software and APPS which will be of assistance in showcasing Yoruba language, literature, culture and traditions.
How long have you been writing?
Well, I started writing in my secondary school days at Holy Trinity Grammar School. I was then the School Library Prefect. I ventured into professional writing in 2005 with the assistance of Mr. Anthony Ebika, a former chairman of ANA in Oyo state and ANA National PRO, South, and Dr. Kunle Okesipe now a lecturer with the Igbinedion University.
How many books do you have to your credit?
I have only one published work. A collection of Poems titled Ojuju and other Poems for Children which won the 2005 ANA Oyo John Asiedu Sarpong Poetry Prize for Children. It was published in 2010 by Dei Tempus Press and Publication Agency in Ibadan. I’ve almost exhausted all my copies. Sincerely, I write for children. I have contributed in the publishing of some of my works in anthologies, literary journals, newspapers and magazines.
Writing is time consuming, how do you juggle between writing and other endeavours?
Well, for now I do a little writing. I am currently concentrating and developing my Yoruba literature animation project and the indigenous reading project which will take off soon and there are lots of works (literary projects) in my hands.
So, when do we expect your work out?
If it is writing for now, don’t expect anything much. I’m currently perfecting my work and plans on my latest projects which are the Yoruba Literature Animation Project, Yoruba Software Project, Indigenous Reading Project, Reading for National Development and Unity – (READ-U) Project and the Second edition of Prof. Ola Rotimi’s Inter-secondary Schools Impromptu Drama Competition.
Who are your mentors and role models?
God is my supreme role model. Also, my father, Late Prof. Albert Aderemi Adedoyin of blessed memory. He was also a writer. He had like three published books to his credit. He was one of Baba Fagunwa’s friends. Since the demise of my father, Dr. Okediran has been my father, mentor and helper. He has assisted me on many projects.
Mallam Denja Abdulahi has been a great mentor to me in terms of literary administration and etiquettes. He facilitated my emergence as ANA PRO. I came across his poetry collections titled Mairago when I was coordinating Olaudah Equiano Poetry and Prose Club of Educare Trust Exhibition Centre some years ago.
Another mentor is Dr. Tony Marinho, one of the founders and former Executive Secretary of Educare Trust Exhibition Centre. He also taught me many things ranging from word pronunciation, projection while reading and volunteering his time to read with us while I was the Coordinator of Olaudah Equiano Poetry and Prose Club.
Mr Ebika Anthony, fondly called Baba Ebiks taught me how to write professionally. He taught and showed me the four corners of poetry. Through him also, I learnt how to organize literary events.
And the last but not the least, Mr. Kunle Okesipe, now a lecturer at the Igbinedion University. He edited my first book which won me my first literary prize.
You are President, Society of Young Nigerian Writers, does it clash with your responsibility as ANA PRO?
Immediately I was elected ANA PRO I handed over all SYNW administrative functions to SYNW National Secretary, Mr. Izuna Okafor, and SYNW National PRO, Mr. Musa Muhammed.
We have been working together for almost five years now. Mr. Izuna Okafor is also an outstanding literary organizer. We love and have trust in each other.
I don’t want anything that will disturb my performance. Above all, Mallam Denja Abdulahi whom God used to facilitate my becoming ANA National PRO (South) has entrusted me with many commitments which I must deliver and not fail. I know within myself that if Mallam Denja Abdulahi fails, I also fail. And if he performs well, then I shall share in his glory. Total commitment that is what I’m after. I am after his success and achievement that is why I must concentrate and leave whatever thing that might block my commitment to his progress.
I know I have lost many things, like the performance of SYNW has decreased in terms of publicity and activities, non-commitment to members’ problems like before among others.