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‘I believe those punchy lines on my page should be given some timelessness’


Newspaper columnist, Chukwuneta Oby, would be launching her book, Vintage Quotes For Successful Living, a compilation of quotes from her popular Facebook Parliament at the MUSON Centre today. In this interview with GuardianWoman, she explains the essence of the book.

What inspired this book?
It was the desire not to let words that I consider a worthwhile go to waste. Whenever I read the comments of friends to my posts on the social media, I marvel at the depth of wisdom, knowledge and understanding of life’s issues that reside in Nigerians. It would have been most regrettable to just read such punchy lines and just click ‘like’. And go. Those words deserve to be given some timelessness.

How did you come about Chukwuneta Oby’s Facebook Parliament?
I had joined Facebook to ‘feel’ the larger world. But I wasn’t contented being an observer. I desired to put down my thoughts, learn more and possibly find answers to my issues too. My efforts must have made a difference because, in no time, people began to reach out on their issues. When people started to reach out to me on their issues, I knew that the inputs of friends are needed, if the subjects are to receive balanced views. “Oby does not have all the answers’’…I always say. That’s basically how the activities of the Parliament took shape. The reason I do what I do, and most appreciative of friends who put in some efforts, is because I know what it means to be troubled and not know who to talk to. I have been there! Interventions on emotional issues are not readily available in Nigeria. Yet, there are so many troubled souls out there, I feel that if an intervention hasn’t come from ‘an expert’, it should at least come from a caring heart.

What benefits will readers get from this book?
I think the question should be ‘”what won’t readers benefit from this book’’…as we pretty much covered a whole lot of life’s issues. In the book, we have topics such as LIFE, POSITIVITY, LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS, MARRIAGE, POLYGAMY, IN-LAWS, EMPOWERMENT, DIVORCE, SINGLE PARENTS AND DIVORCEES, SINGLES AND YOUNG PEOPLE, GAMBLING and more.

How did you go about gathering the quotes?
People contact me on their mostly relationship issues, which I edit and post (with their permission, of course)…for wider views from my social media acquaintances. Oby does not have all the answers, I always say. It’s in the course of reading the submission of friends on the various issues that we talk on that one often comes across brilliant views. It would be most unfair to humanity not to immortalize such views.They are the kind of words you term timeless. I have been conducting the activities of my face book parliament since 2010 and began the compilation of phrases within comments that I find interesting since 2015. And here we are with a book to show for the efforts…three years later. 345 contributors were quoted in the book also.

Do those you quoted deliberately set out to put down wise crackers?
Nobody sets out to be quoted. But as one’s thoughts flow on an issue, you end up putting down words that will likely turn out interesting. That’s even how most of my quotes are compiled. They are mostly words/phrases embedded in my general view or discourse of issues.

Who are the contributors to the quotes?
The contributors are friends and acquaintances in my social media circle.

What makes a good quote?
A good quote should be unambiguous, have practicality and some relativity to whatever situation it is seeking to address.

What’s your favourite quote in the book?
(Laughing), they are too many to be mentioned. I have lots of favourites in every topic in the book.

Do you always agree with every line you find quotable?
Not really, but my finding such lines quotable shows that in as much as one does not necessarily agree with what is being said, the brilliance of the idea or coinage is impressive.

How do you see the trend of media personalities writing books?
It should be the norm, frankly. Every job experience is laden with experiences that contain ‘life lessons’. And it is the God-given duty of one who has learned a thing or two from such lessons to give ‘immortality’ to such experiences-in the form of a book.

Tell us about your own media/newspaper journey?
I describe myself as one to whom writing is an accidental passion. I never set out to become a writer but then when you have a story to tell…the Universe provides you with a platform-somehow.

How fulfilling is the life of a columnist?
So long as passion and not materialism, is your driving force, it’s a hugely fulfilling life path. Nothing beats being given a voice for someone who has something to say.

What’s your column about?
Life’s issues from emotional and social angles.

Advice to young Nigerians wanting to become writers?
If passion is your driving force, the world will celebrate you, because people who find their passion fly with it and most times…they excel.

What is your philosophy of life?
The only time your past should matter is in becoming a better you. It should even matter least in the pursuit of your dreams.

Can you let us into some of the quotes in the book?
“You can’t mind your business all the time, suicide is increasing in our society now, let us be our brother’s keeper,’’ Uche Isedeh Udo-Obong.

“When one converts the energy of rejection or disappointment into ‘adding value to self’, it provides an opportunity to get ahead,’’ Obiageli Asadu.

“Those who need to forgive should not be dictated to the terms by which they need to forgive,’’ Oladimeji Dotun.

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