Interviews

‘Reading culture is becoming past tense in Nigeria’ -OTUN RASHEED

The Third World War (cover)

The Third World War cover

In an exclusive chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly, he spoke on the challenges of being a writer in Nigeria and what makes a good writer.

What inspired Wait Today?

Obviously, the title, Wait Today is derived from the Yoruba Wait meaning Duro and Today meaning Oni….Wait Today translates to mean Duro Oni. If you are familiar with Nigerian dramatists, theatre scholars and theatre practitioners particularly with Nigerian lighting designers or if you are close to the University of Lagos, particularly with the history and evolution of the Department of Creative Arts, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos…the title of the play, “Wait Today”…”Duro Oni” will make a lot of meaning to you. So, Duro Oni inspired Wait Today.

Professor Duro Oni is currently the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Management Services), University of Lagos.  Professor Duro Oni inspired the title as well as the play.

How long did it take you to write the book?

The play spent some years incubating in my creative and critical faculties before forcing itself out. Those years, I spent appreciating the complete man of the theatre, the calm disciplinarian, the suave administrator, and the benevolent godfather to many. The play took years germinating! But I wrote the play within two weeks while away as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Georgia, Athens, USA.

How challenging was it?

Writing the play was not as challenging as writing about Wait Today. So, I had to employ some elements of surrealism in order to navigate through the tough terrain. I also reasoned that the man is a modernist, hence the drifts of the play.

What are your plans for the book (is it for stage)?

Wait Today is a play written for the stage. It is a play written with the intent to fuse the theatrical atmosphere with modern media. However, it is a play written to serve as a monument in honour of the man known as Wait Today. Already, a reading of the play was organised by the University of Georgia’s Athens Playwright Workshop. The rehearsal for the performance of the play is at the final stage and several other plans are in the pipeline.

What do you generally write about?

I write about philosophical, socio-political and religious issues.

Is this your first book?

No.

Can you tell us about your other books?

My other dramatic works are – The Third World War; When the Dream Died; Who is Afraid of Osanyin?; Our National Flag; Arugba Osun; The gods are still not to blame;Jungle justice;  From Idi-Araba to Akoka; Hired Mourners; Sssshhhhhhh; Lemon scarf; and my latest play entitled, Umofia Kwenu written in honour of the late Prof. Chinua Achebe.

What makes a good writer?

That is a tough question for a budding writer like myself. A good writer is one that is informed, versatile, skilled, keen observer, good listener, a finesse discussant, one with open mind and lover of nature. He must have flair for writing.

What are the peculiar challenges writers face in Nigeria?

Finding a market. Getting a honest publisher. Reading culture is fast becoming a past tense. The modern technology is also playing a great role. There is no concerted plan by the government too. Piracy. The challenges are numerous.

You are also a lecturer, an author, how do you juggle both?

It’s easy. They are complementary. A worthy lecturer is expected to be a repository and transmitter of knowledge. Writing affords your views to be transmitted beyond the classroom setting to the whole world.

Between lecturing and writing which is your first love?

Writing. The feeling is different. Writing gives you the rare opportunity of being alone with yourself, getting to the depth of yourself, your dreams and it gives you the wonderful feeling of being a creator! You learn a lot through writing. And the joy of seeing your dream becoming a reality is indescribable.

Can you please tell us a bit about you?

Otun Ismaila Rasheed Adedoyin Aremu Moyosore aka Mr. Right. That’s all! lol!

-AJOKE ONITOLO

 

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