With The Future, Okolie raises new storytellers, poets
Getting the youth to develop reading habit is more challenging now than in the past. This is majorly because of the ever-increasing access to smart phones and the consequent social media addiction of many young ones. In spite of this daunting challenge, some concerned Nigerians have continued to devise means of arresting the ugly trend.
A young lawyer and literary enthusiast, Chidera Nneoma Okolie, is one of those committed to restoring reading culture among the young ones.
Without minding the challenges ahead, she embarked on a project tagged IDIOS Creatives in 2018. The self-financed project, she stated, was her little contribution to building generations of reading youths and developing their creative skills.
“IDIOS Creatives is an ingenious scheme conceived to promote creativity among youths,” she explained.
Okolie’s interest in the arts manifested early in her life and for her parents, she would have studied English Literature. Thus, immediately after her call to the Nigerian bar, she returned to her passion.
“I love everything creativity,” she said.
And fortunately for Miss Okolie, her first outing in the creative world was a huge success. She had begun with call for entries in short stories and poetry among students and pupils of both public and private schools within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At the close of submission, over 400 entries were received from various schools, and with her lean resources, Okolie sponsored the short-listing and editing of qualified entries for the maiden IDIOS Prize for Flash Fiction and Poetry.
The official launch of the project, which held last year in Abuja, also witnessed the public presentation of The Future, a publication comprising 100 successful entries in short stories and poems.
Looking backward, Okolie, like the lizard that fell from a great height, said she was fulfilled.
“I feel proud and satisfied that I could do that without sponsorship from anywhere. I am happy that I could contribute to the growth of creativity in Nigeria,” she insisted.
According to her, IDIOS Creatives has provided a veritable platform for students and pupils to express themselves and showcase their creative powers in writing and visual art presentations.
“IDIOS is a team of young Nigerian wits and nous with a vision to provide guidance, support and numerous opportunities for young creatives. They are afforded the required platform to explore and harness their ingenuity and creativity,” she said.
Okolie, however, blamed the steady decline in reading of literary and creative books to societal attitude that has, over time, attempted to render writers’ efforts unrewarding.
But as undaunted as ever, she believes raising at least, 100 writers from the younger generation will go a long way in reviving the trend.
“A lot of people that were passionate about writing fell out, because they felt the country had nothing to offer writers. But as it is, if we are able to churn out 100 writers yearly, the country would be able tol reclaim the creative industry,” she noted.
The young authors were, no doubt, excited as they were given opportunity at the public presentation to speak on their works and their motivations.
At the event, the young writers were provided opportunity to sign and sell complimentary copies to guests.
After listening and watching them displayed their creative ingenuity, the guests agreed that hopes were not lost, after all.
They however acknowledged the fact that both teachers and parents have crucial roles to play in encouraging the return of reading and writing culture.
Parents in particular were admonished to lead by example by finding time to read books in the presence of their children.
But The Future is not Okolie’s first publication, having authored the multiple awards winning When Silence Becomes Too Loud, a crime and suspense piece and Not Forgiven, a collection of short psychological thriller stories.
Yet, her zeal for the art could be said to have just begun. With her wig in one hand, she is planning to launch herself fully into the creative industry with a film production.
With the curious mind of an artist, she would be interrogating the effects of religion on creativity in the film she is currently working on. Her encounter with an Abuja-based visual artist has left her imagining how religious beliefs have impeded the creative expression of some artists.
“I went to buy artwork and I realised that the artist concentrated on portraits of landscape, love paintings and some abstract paintings. I did not see any carved image, and when I asked why he could not carve images, he answered that though he was good in carving, but he could not do so because his religion does encourage it.
“That was my first time of hearing something like that and I decided to find out more about that statement.”
Also, with the success recorded in the call for short stories and poems, Okolie will be instituting a prize for dramatic art later this year.
The project, which would be focusing on issues of discrimination and depression, would bring together secondary school students, who are interested in developing their acting skills.
According to her, she would be visiting schools for talent hunt for students that would feature in the drama.
Going through the stories revealed the creative ingenuity in the young authors as they articulate various issues of interest to their world in writing.
Underneath their stories and poems however are found their individual feelings, dreams, aspirations, beliefs and expectations.
While some adopted the second person narrative technique, for others, the stories were told from the first person’s point of view.
The works were carefully arranged in order of submissions made by individual schools.
For Aduvie International School came 17 titles published under 17 different chapters. Some of the titles read: The Unknown by Bethany Ogugua; Family, by Favour Makinwa; A Visit to Granny by Oluwagbeminiyi Olakunle; Zoe’s Favourite Gift by Maulika Pandey and A Story About Two Friends written by Chimdinma Okere.
Others schools, whose students were published in the book include, African Community School, The Bees Knees School, Desires of Nations Redeemers School and El Amin International School. Others are Ladela Schools, Nigerian-Canadian School, Nigeria Ghana International School and Nigerian Tulip International College.
There are also Olumawu College, Raberto Schools, Starfield College, Tender Years School and WhitePlains British College.
Angel Ibrahim’s A Scare For Life, for instance, tells the story of an unusual situation in an African society. This time, it is not just a domestic violence but that which represents an exception rather than the rule.
It tells the story of a woman physically and emotionally violates her husband. While she is led out of the house like a common criminal, the author says she expresses pity for her, as the eyes of the woman speaks volume of perhaps, untold story of her life.
Although Dr. Larry survived the assault, the young author had emerged with a lesson that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
Every story and poem depicts a unique experience and buttresses an impressionable height of creativity in the children.
And for the beautiful publication, The Future will not only fascinate the young authors but will definitely sustain their interest in writing and consequently, set the stage for resuscitation of reading culture among youths.
The Future is a compendium of thought provoking and interesting short stories and poems by young people from select schools. With over 100 authors who emerged winners in The Idios Prize For Flash Fiction and Poetry.
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