In the past few weeks, Nigeria and Nigerians have been on the global headlines for mostly negative reasons, the internet fraud scams in the United States, the drug smuggling cases in Saudi Arabia etc. A need of fresh air is needed at this moment: people that will also put Nigeria on the news for positive and good reasons. That exactly, is what makes Frances Ogamba our Hero; putting Nigeria in the news for good!
Frances Ogamba: Write, Writer, Writivism!
Prior to now, no one has achieved a particular feat that our Hero, Frances Ogamba has. What exactly is that? The fact that she has made history by appearing on both Writivism shortlists in the same year. Frances is on the Writivism Short Story Prize shortlist for her short fiction Ghana Boy, and on the Koffi Addo Creative Nonfiction Prize for The Valley of Memories.
Her stories appear in Afridiaspora and Writivism digital mini-anthology, Dwartonline and Ynaija websites, and on Enkare Review. She is a workshop alumnus of Writivism 2016, Ake fiction 2016, and Winter Tangerine 2016. She lives in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
When asked what her secret weapon is as regards to writing and the waves she is making as a writer, she responded by stating the following:
I loved the books I read as a child and I knew I definitely wanted to do this. But it was tougher than I thought. I took to reading a whole lot, and just falling and stumbling until it began to look beautiful. The ‘dibia’ is a long road of tedious work.
But it wasn’t always a stroll in the park for Frances Ogamba. She recounts her experiences of trials and struggles in this words,
I have had very bitter rejections. Let me tell you something personal. In 2016, I got on the Writivism longlist with a story I believed in but it didn’t go further. I actually cried because I didn’t get on the shortlist. I started sending out stories to count my rejections. What you see right now is not automatic. It may be for some writers, lucky them. But for me, it’s been a long road filled with gravel.
Though she sees money as a good motivation, she doesn’t however tie her heart to the money, her greatest drive is her ambition; having tried Writivism 4 times and got 3 longlists. In her words,
All I did was keep hacking my axe at a wall that wouldn’t come down. I finally made the shortlist. The wall is down. Goal achieved.
She however, believes that commendation must be given to Writivism for providing financial and mentoring support for emerging writers through initiatives like the annual prize.
The Writivism Prize
The 2019 Writivism Prize has been awarded to Nigeria’s Frances Ogamba and South Africa’s Resoketswe Manenzhe. The writivism prize was judged by Ugandan novelist Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Zimbabwean editor Emmanuel Siguake, and Ghanaian blogger Linna Likimani. While the Koff Addo Creative Nonfiction Prize was judged by Ghanaian novelist Ayesha Harruna Attah, South African novelist Karen Jennings, and Kenyan academic Christopher Ouma.
The Koffi Addo Creative Nonfiction Prize went to Nigeria’s Frances Ogamba, for “The Valley of Memories,” and the Writivism Short Story Prize went to South Africa’s Resoketswe Manenzhe, for “Maserumo.”
Ogamba’s The Valley of Memories” begins with these introductory lines- “To live with another man’s wounds is to wake at midnights with a searing pain and listen to the man breathe and exist.” The story about reincarnation, of her uncle who lives as a cohabitant in her body.
Featured Image Source: Africa In Dialogue