A reporter for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Jeremy Grange, stopped by my workplace earlier in the week to talk about literature and linguistics, and the writing environment in Nigeria today. He is in town interviewing a number of Nigerian writers about the current state of the writing industry today. He was referred to me by a mutual colleague who thought that he would be interested in my work particularly the angle of the Nigerian language.
We met at my workplace, Whitesands School, talked for over half an hour about my writing, my childhood influences, my other work in promoting the use of indigenous languages on the internet, and other related topics. It was a lively and stimulating conversation. He mentioned, in the end, that my description of the language environment in Nigeria reminds him of Wales and the despair that many people felt about the language dying off. What the Welsh people did, he said, was to create an aggressive campaign to increase the use of the language in all spheres of life, and it worked. Welsh is now being spoken by more people than before. This is one incentive for me to visit the United Kingdom in the near future.
Talk eventually led to the literary work done by my students whose creative writing and art works were published earlier in the year in an anthology that we called The Sail. A second edition is in the works. The journalist wanted to speak with some of the boys whose work appeared in the book to get an idea of their literary influences and writing purpose. Five of those boys gladly obliged, taking some time out of class to talk about the books they read, what influenced their work in the anthology, and even reading excerpts from the book. In short, it was a hugely productive encounter. He has now invited me over to Wales to check out the teaching of Welsh which is enjoying a renewed attention after decades of neglect. I intend to take him up on the invitation whenever I’m in the UK.
I am grateful to Jeremy for stopping by, and to Emma Shercliff for connecting us. The radio programme, to be narrated by Nigerian writer Wana Udobang, will air in late October to early November, 2015. As soon as it airs on the BBC World Service (and posted on their website), I will put up the links here.