All Things Artsy Interview: Ope Adedeji

In my last article here [ http://afropress.org/african-literature-soaring-high/%5D I praised African literature for its rapid growth and amazing contribution to the arts. I mentioned online literary websites and how they were playing in huge role in nurturing young writers and also getting their work out there. ArtsandAfrica.com is one such website and as a contributor for the site for the past six months I am grateful for the opportunity to work with a diverse group of young Africans.

Arts and Africa is the brain child of a group of Nigerian young people and it has grown to have writers from almost all corners of Africa. I decided to talk to one of the founding members of ArtsandAfrica to pick her brain on writing, reading, art and Africa which are four of her favorite things.

Ope Adedeji is a writer, a law student and considers herself a real life ineffable Powerpuff girl, which is quite a combination, I look forward to seeing her kick-ass as a female advocate and having multiple best sellers in bookstores worldwide (I want mine signed and sent to Botswana though). Here is what she had to say;

My first question is probably one every writer gets but when did you start writing?
I started writing when I was ten. I loved to tell my younger sister stories. I also loved to read stories. Though just children books, the story books, movies, folktales I read at the back of exercise books and cartoons I read influenced my interest in telling stories. Though I grew up around a lot of books, it was not these books that made me want to write. It was a single statement my older sister made one evening. I remember it like it was yesterday, yet I am not sure whether she was disturbed by my small voice as i told my younger sister a story or she was just advising my ten year old self, that instead of telling so many stories, i should write them down. The holiday after, I wrote my first story, a children’s story of course. It was after then I developed an interest in the adult books I saw at home; John Grishams, Sidney Sheldons, etc. So I started reading everything I could–from novels to comics and with this reading came a new love for writing.

Tell us about Arts and Africa and the vision behind it.
Arts and Africa started as a tool for self-development. It was a community of writers who wanted to put their work out there and at the same time wanted their art to grow. But along the line, especially with the kind of exposure we got, we were able to reshape our thinking. Arts and Africa became bigger than what we envisioned. And so we started thinking in lines of the growing literary scene. In terms of having writers from all over Africa, organizing literary events, show casing interesting art. Of course, the aim is still to develop ourselves and I can say that so far, we have.

What are your personal writing goals?
Apart from being a writer, I am a law student. at a point, my biggest writing goal was to write a book that is just as good as any John Grisham.. these days, i want to write more. for now, my writing goal is to write emotionally packed stories. well written and articulate stories. i also intend to try every genre of literature. so apart from fiction, i have been working on non fiction and opinion pieces. in the not too distant future, maybe i can start working on a book and planning dominance of the literary world. lol. but for now, i am trying my best to become a better writer.
The best writing advice you ever received?
Read more than you write.
Does character come from plot, or plot from character?
*laughs* when i write, i just write. But that is a valid question. For me, most of the time, plot comes from character. I find an interesting character and build up a story from his life.

Future plans for artsandafrica?
Arts and Africa intends to have brilliant writers from all over Africa. Right now, most of our writers are from the West African countries. However, we have writers from Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Botswana. We also plan to have literary events. Our goal is to start up a publishing house where our writers can be published in hard copy and have a literary house where we have bookshops, artsy events, art exhibitions and stage plays.
Your take on African literature and art at the moment?
African literature is WOWing me at the moment.

Where do you want to see African art and literature in future?
It is growing and growing. More people are reading, more people are writing. In the future, i see a wide range of African literature, Sci-fi, mystery etc. i see technology infusing itself in art. I see the social media more effectively helping young writers be in touch with the literary world and of course to become better writers themselves.
Reading or writing which is more therapeutic for you?
Reading.

African writers we should all be reading at the moment?
I can’t really recommend writers because they are mostly well known and most people have read their work. Like Chimamanda, Sefi Atta, Lola Shoneyin, Wole Soyinka etc. but I’ll tell you this Saraba mag, Brittle paper, Jalada, arts and africa, Kalahari review and a host of others have awesome literature content.

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