OBIANUJU CHUKWUORJI’S Delusions of the Patriots, which is in the race for the USD$100,000 money for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, charts the right path away from deviant behaviour to a better society. Her motivation is birthing a better society fit for its young ones, as she tells AnoteArtHub in this interview
Where were you when you heard the news that you had been shortlisted for the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Limited (NLNG)-sponsored The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2020?
I got to know about the shortlist early morning of July 5,, 2021, through a WhatsApp message from my sister. I was at home.
Why do you write?
I am primarily inspired to write because that is what I enjoy doing. Writing gives me tremendous joy. It comes naturally to me. Additionally, I believe we can change the world for the better through creative writing – through storytelling. Many people get lost in books for entertainment while some others deploy reading as a means of escaping various circumstances even if for a short while. Being able to create something which could serve this purpose gives me a lot fulfillment.
What would you say writing has done for you and what do you hope that writing would do for you?
Writing has made me a more curious person, paying greater attention to human interactions and my environment, You never know where you will meet the next character in your story. You never know who would become your next muse. Through my writing, I hope to influence the society particularly the younger generation in a more positive direction as part of my contribution to national development, and to humanity in general.
Why do you think your book should be the one that emerges the winner of the prize?
This is a book written from the heart without affectation. Delusions of the Patriots captures the very essence of the contemporary Nigerian society with focus on the myriad challenges that have faced us as a nation in recent times, such as civil unrest, corruption, kidnapping, human trafficking, piracy, quota system, and other kindred socio-political ills with their attendant national trauma. The book without pretentions speaks not only to leaders across the spectrum but to also to the led. You will find it fascinating, captivating and unputdownable. One cannot read the book without having a deep introspection on life in Nigeria in the last few years. I believe it should win the prize.
What do you hope to do with the USD$100,000 money that comes with the prize?
I hope to use it for further personal development and research into future writing projects I will be embarking on.
How does your book reflect contemporary challenges and what ways out of them?
Delusions of the Patriots offers a peep into contemporary societal challenges. In the book, the patriots, a zealous group, who believes the society has deeply wronged them employ unlawful means to bring about a positive change. This can be seen playing out in many parts of the country today. The storyline shows that breaking the law in order to bring about a perceived positive change may fail because at a certain point the line between good and evil becomes blurred and one would end up making the situation worse than it was before.
What vision of society is espoused in your current work?
A society that recognizes its shortcomings and gets inspired to make things better using appropriate methods.
Who and what are your influences?
My influences are God, and of course the resilience of fellow citizens of this country who despite seemingly insurmountable economic and social challenges work hard to overcome those odds with a firm belief in a brighter future for themselves, their families and the nation.
How much would you say The Nigeria Prize for Literature has energized writing in the country?
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has done so much not only in energizing and inspiring budding writers but also in enhancing the reading culture in Nigeria. The publicity given to the books on the longlist and the winning titles gives the authors a larger audience than their publishing houses and social media would. As a result, despite the challenges of book piracy and the fact that so many forms of entertainment have made people not to read as much as they did in the past, the conscious effort of the NLNG to sponsor this prize over the years gives writers tremendous encouragement, as well as something to aspire to. Readers would also want to read a book that won a hundred thousand dollars (USD$100,000) and could be inspired to become writers as well.