Chinyere Obi-Obasi Visits ZODML for Second JSRP Session
The second session of ZODML’S monthly Junior Secondary Reading Programme (JSRP) took place on March 20. Students from Aunty Ayo Girls Comprehensive Junior Secondary School and Girls Junior Secondary Grammar School (both in Obalende, Ikoyi) had the opportunity to meet and interact with Chinyere Obi-Obasi, the author of The Great Fall.
The Great Fall is the third book written by Obi-Obasi, a lawyer and banker, and is a brilliant retelling of the well-known fable about the arrogant hare and the wise tortoise within the story of a family on a long journey indulge in a story-telling session. The Great Fall, which was published in 2011, was shortlisted for the NLNG Literature Prize that same year.
The students, who had read the book before the event, were excited to meet the author and had numerous questions for her. One of them was eager to know how The Great Fall was developed as a story. “The plot of a story remains the cardinal point for me. Once I’m able to develop a good plot, the storylines just align themselves,” said Obi-Obasi. “I am also particular with the beginning, because if you get that part well you’ve gotten the reader. The length of the story you are writing is equally vital. Your story should not be too short so as to annoy the reader or too long as to bore them.”
She responded to a question on whether writing was exclusive to people who studied English or art subjects, saying: “You don’t need any one’s approval to write a book. For me, what’s important is for you to establish you have the gifts and the passion to write. You can be a science or engineering student and write a best-seller fiction or non-fiction. However, I will advise that once you’ve establish your love for writing, you go a step further by taking a crash course in a relevant writing field to supplement the knowledge you already have.”
How much support did she receive from her family when she made the decision to write a book? “By the time I wanted to be a writer, I was out of my parents’ house. I was in my husband’s house. Nevertheless, I know they would have given their support had I developed the passion to write a book in my parents’ house. My mother used to give me money while I was young and she’d watch me use it to buy books because I loved to read novels. She was proud, I think, because I used the money wisely.”
Obi-Obasi mentioned Chimamanda Adichie, Eghosa Imasuen and Helon Habila amongst the Nigerian writers whose work she admires and reads, and shared that her inspiration to write comes “from a variety of issues like meeting people, listening to stories and travelling.”
She also engaged the students in a practical lesson on creating a plot for a story, encouraging them to come up with a collective storyline and build up the characters in great detail. As the plot developed, the students were excited to put their imaginative abilities to the test.
Towards the end of the session, the customary reading competition – as part of which the students get to show off their writing skills by extending the story of the book they have read beyond its ending – took place with three finalists. Rejoice Ishaku Daniel (of Aunty Ayo Junior Girls Comprehensive Secondary School), Janet Itodo (Girls Junior Secondary Grammar School) and Aisha Keita (Aunty Ayo Junior Girls Comprehensive Secondary School) read their stories out loud for all assembled. Obi-Obasi selected Miss Keita as the winner, noting that her story was most closely in line with the style of The Great Fall. The winner and the runners-up were given prizes and all of the students went home with gift packs after being given a tour of the library by Nkechi Nkechinyere, the Chief Librarian.
The first JSRP session played host to Professor Anezi Okoro: click here to read more about it.
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani Shares Advice with Students at SSRP Session
The most recent session of the ZODML Senior Secondary Reading Project (SSRP) took place on March 22, 2013 at its main library.
The book under discussion was the 2010 winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book in the Africa Region, I Do Not Come to You By Chance. Its author, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, came to speak with students from Government Senior College and Akande-Dahunsi Memorial Senior High School (both in Ikoyi). The novel deals with the larger-than-life characters, impressive operations and greedy westerners involved in the infamous “419” business – often in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
From the beginning, the students were eager to share their thoughts about the book, reflecting on which characters and aspects of the storyline caught their attention. They also spent time asking Nwaubani about her career as a writer and on what influenced the development of the novel.
Nwaubani shared that she “never planned to be an author,” although the discovery of her talent was partly brought about by her desire to avoid weekend chores at boarding school: “I was representing my school in short story writing at that time. And my only way of avoiding the routine inspections on Saturday was to make myself available for any competition fixed for that weekend.”
Her first story was written when she was ten years old and she earned her “very first income of sixty naira from winning a writing competition at the age of thirteen.” Nwaubani said she never thought to take writing seriously until 2001 when one of her mentors told her that she was supposed to put her writing talent to less leisurely use.
Nwaubani challenged the students to take advantages of opportunities for success, encouraging them to read widely: “With your little book, you can travel around the world without getting lost”. She also reminded the students not to allow their immediate environment affect their desired career, using her rural upbringing and transition to writing as an example.
As part of the event, three of the students, whose alternative endings to I Do Not Come to You By Chance had been judged the best from the group, read their work aloud to be judged by Nwaubani. Hope Jeremiah and Oyetunji Nurudeen (both from Government Senior College, Ikoyi) came first and third respectively while Oliseh Paul from Akande-Dahunsi Memorial Senior High School, Ikoyi came second. Each of them was presented a gift as a reward for their hard work.
At the close of the reading session, there was a photograph session with the author followed by a tour around the library for the students by Stephen Aminehi, a ZODML librarian. Each student was also given a ZODML-branded shirt and books to further encourage their love of reading.
ZODML strives to provide resources for students in our community and to encourage a love of reading among young people. To learn more about the JSRP and SSRP projects, click here. Also check out the About Us tab at the top of the page to see a full list of our community projects.