‘I don’t allow anything limit me from going for whatever I want’ – Aduragbemi Akintepede
Aduragbemi Akintepede is a nineteen year old undergraduate of Law at Olabisi Onabanjo University. She started writing at the early age of nine and published her first book, a play at the age of fourteen. She has also authored “New Cheese,” a memoir and “Late Last Year,” a short story. Aduragbemi has a passion for writing, campaigning for women and child rights, acting, teaching and humanitarianism.One Good Turn” which is her first published book is currently on Ogun State Ministry of Education Science and Technology’s Approved List of Textbooks for use in Junior Secondary Class Two, Literature-in-English text for 2019/2020 academic session in schools across the state.She shares her inspiring story with me in this interview.
My parents are educationists, my dad used to be a civil servant at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology while my mom is a teacher. So, as a little child, I had access to books early. While growing up in primary school, my dad used to have lots of books hanging around the house and some on shelves. I read “Eze Goes to school, Mayor of Casterbridge, Merchant of Venice, Things Fall Apart and books by Wole Soyinka which I didn’t understand but always kept reading. They informed my early writing and I started writing my version of stories as they came to me, in drama, firstly on the plain back of A4 papers not in use anymore at home, then, later I progressed to notebooks when I was admitted into secondary school.
My love for the female gender also grew from my home too. I have two siblings and they are both girls. So, we’re three girls. Our experiences while growing up as children made me love and appreciate femininity.That made me drift more towards the female gender, identifying with their struggles, empathizing with experiences of adult females around me, having a great feeling of joy when females around me are excelling and achieving feats.
My writing journey
I discovered that I love imagining stories and writing them out. Like I said, I started with drama, writing out dialogues. It was fun. Allowing my imagination run wild, writing things I felt should come after another. I had a friend in Junior Secondary Class One then who I write with on notebooks. I wrote my first play in Primary Four. I wrote the second with her. I had graduated to writing stories on notebooks. I would sit with her during break or after exams and start writing. It was our way of playing. Suggesting a plot of action, creating our characters to suit it. Making the dialogue flow. Everything was fun to us.
My friend left my school after our Junior Secondary education. In Senior Secondary Class Two, with the help of my parents, I was able to publish my first book, “One Good Turn Deserves Another.” A publisher advised them to let me publish my stories, so, my play was worked on and I became an author at fourteen.
Started at age 9 and publishing my first book at 14
Looking back, I must say that the journey so far has been God’s special grace. I am not the most creative or talented among my peers, I am still a budding writer but so far God has helped me to transition from then till now. When I started out, writing was a childhood hobby and I had the desire to make great impact, do great exploits even at my young age and that childhood dream is still driving me and I hope younger ones and adults alike can read from me and know that age can never be a determinant or barrier to success.
Being a Government endorsed Author at 19
I must say that being a government endorsed author at such a young age is an incredible honour for me and I’m still in awe of it. I should be the youngest author on the entire list of recommend texts for secondary schools in the state and I feel so honoured. It is also a great encouragement to me and to fellow young people that your age notwithstanding, you can be anything you set your mind to become.
My passion for women, child rights, humanitarian work and it’s Impact
I am passionate about women and children. For women, I recognize and can relate to their strengths, struggles, challenges and flaws.We have single mothers in our society, we also have women who are married yet single in the actual sense because they bear the entire responsibilities of the home or are denied of marital bliss, love and affection. Naturally, I have a sense of empathy for them and it breaks my heart when I hear sad stories about women being abused, sidelined, going through one pain or the other.I have always been passionate about the reading culture, mostly for teenagers because I feel it is declining in my generation and it is important to start with the little ones.
I did a revision to my first book early this year shortly before it was adopted by the Ogun state government for Junior Secondary Class Two. I ensured I included lots of vocabularies in it, some of which I learnt myself during the course of writing. It also has questions for each Act in the play. All of these were put in place so that as much as students are reading the didactic part of it with morals being instructed into them, they are also adding to their wealth of knowledge and usage of new words and can also attempt questions on what they have read.
I intend to have a book drive in primary and secondary schools firstly in Ogun state where it is a recommended literature text, then, extend it to other states. I also intend to partner with brands mentioned in the play such as Bigi Drinks, Mentos Sweet and Nestlé as well as foundations owned by youths to have book reading sessions, talks, acting out of scenes from the book and also donating books to schools in indigent areas where students cannot afford to buy notebooks not to talk of literature texts.
Other Projects and Activities
I am also a member of organizations which give me platforms to reach out to these category of people I’m passionate about. I belong to Junior Chamber International Nigeria (JCIN), Jesunpadabo Charity Initiative which is a Christian missionary intitiative where people are fed with both the word of God and material needs too, Our Little Gist Foundation where we reach out to the girl child. By God’s grace, I am an executive member of these organizations and my activities in them always bring me a step closer to my dreams.
Balancing it all
I am a Law student in my third year, I don’t really have to give a detailed report to my parents on my academics because they trust me well enough to balance it all. However, I am accountable to my elder sister who is a medical student and also to an older friend of mine. They monitor my grades and academic progress. So, because I know I’ll have to give them a detailed report at the end of every semester, I ensure I perform well.
I also have people who do not cease to remind me to balance everything together. I have seniors in my Law faculty who commend me for doing well in other areas and also urge me to excel in my academics, so, I can be given a platform on my valedictory day to talk about school and my writing as well.Personally, while following my passion, I always remind myself that I must excel in other areas too. So, I always try to create a balance, write or carry out other activities during semester breaks or periods I don’t have school work to do. I attend tutorials too almost every weekend and so far I have been excelling greatly in my academics.
I am a young writer and as much as I really love writing. Most times, I lose interest in finishing up a story I’m working on. I keep procrastinating or waiting for inspiration. So, far, the knowledge that I am to take the first step- start writing, even if I feel inspired at the moment or not has been of great help. It is more like a farmer who keeps waiting for the sun to come out before setting out, he will definitely fail.I also have a particular person, my older friend whom I mentioned earlier, Lanre Omodele who really keeps me in track. He gives me deadlines to finish up a story I have lost interest in or been procrastinating.
On Giving up
No, there hasn’t. I am passionate about everything I do and that drives me. There are times I feel discouraged or have low moments but there has never been a time I felt like giving everything up. When I’m down, I turn to God for strength, allow myself to drop my fears and worries at His feet and walk into His rest. My parents have also been very supportive. They help out in almost all areas and are fully involved in every process; writing, editing, publishing and marketing. The immense support and sacrifices of my family, adults who believe in me and youths alike keeps me going.
Being a Woman of Rubies
I feel so honoured to be a Ruby Woman and I feel that what makes me a Woman of Rubies is that I don’t allow anything limit me from going for whatever I want and also the courage to always do things afraid. I also feel that my desire to impact and impart younger generations, to be an epitome of the saying, “it is never too late or too early to start something new or achieve great feats,” makes me a Woman of Rubies.
Dear Young Woman….
For young women who are hesitant to take a leap of faith even while being afraid, I will advice them with two of my personal quotes from my second book, a memoir, “New Cheese” which goes thus:”Work on self discovery and dare to be a new, better and positive version of you than you were yesterday.””Embrace you, assess you, celebrate you and above all, love you everyday to know you deserve the newest cheese out there!”
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