By Anote Ajeluorou
PERHAPS, for the first time, four female writers converged on Nigeria’s only residency for writers in Iseyin, Oyo State, to complete ongoing literary projects. They are author of Bom Boy and Nigerian-Barbadian, naturalised South African, Ms Yewande Omotoso; author of Victor and Ugandan writer, Agiresaasi Apophia; author of Abamo and indigenous language writer, Rukayat Olaleye and author of Eno’s Story, Ms Ayodele Olofintuade.
The Ebedi International Writers Residency was instituted a few years ago by medical doctor-turned writer, politician and former President, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Dr. Wale Okediran. It’s situated at the foot of a hill in the serene Iseyin community of Oyo State.
Omotoso said she came to the residency through a friend, Samuel Kolawole’s recommendation. She got to know about Ebedi Writers Residency Programme from fellows she met last year at a writing workshop in Lagos.
According to her, “so, I got curious; because it’s a big opportunity, and we need to publicise it.
“I’m working on the first draft of a book set mostly in South Africa and the two main characters are 80-year-old women, who are neighbours. It’s basically a story about their relationship. They hate each other, but are dependent on each other. It looks at South African dynamics, the racial problem 20 years’ on after a democratically elected government in 1994. What are the racial dynamics that exist in the Western Cape. There is segregation by class and colour in Cape Town 20 years on. So, I’m just looking at why that is the case.”
Though she hopes the new work will be different from Bom Boy, Omotoso remarked, “because I’m not only South African; I think whenever I write, for instance, my character is West Indian, and the other character is a white South African. I feel like when I write, I need to put a character there that relates to my experience, which is me being a foreigner. So, I can write from a West Indian perspective in South Africa, and she also comes to Ibadan. You know, I’m Nigeria but I’m not really Nigerian, so, I can write from West Indian perspective. I always need that perspective that I know.”
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