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Centre Stage with Feyisayo Anjorin

Welcome to Centre Stage. Do you listen to tales by moonlight when you were young? I have become nostalgic about that particular aspect of my growing years. Do we tell stories these days? What do we really enjoy? I interact with the younger folks and try to learn what page of our past they are reading from. What types of writers and actors do we have now in the village square, what stories do they listen to? My guest today on Centre Stage is interesting .He is a focused, aware and determined young man. He gave me a lot to admire
Please welcome Feyisayo Anjorin, actor and writer to Centre Stage

1.May we know you?
My name is Feyisayo Anjorin, from Ondo state, Nigeria; last child in a family of three children, a lover of stories, a husband of one wife, a bible student, a lover of Yoruba culture, and a 21st century explorer.

2.Which do you prefer? acting or writing?
I love writing more; because of the freedom a writer has over the world of the story.
3. Take a look at the Nigerian literary scene and comment

We still have a long way to go. In a nation of over a hundred and forty million people I believe we should have more impact in the English language world, and also we should have more stories told in our many languages. Most of our widely known writers are based in the US and Europe, so that tells of an environment that doesn’t support creative writing. Writers have it hard all over the world, no doubt about that. Except you are the J K Rowlings or G R R Martins of this world, writing is not exactly lucrative and we’ve had great writers that have died dirt poor; but there is a difference between places where people appreciate good writing and places where people read just to pass exams or just to see “the seven steps to riches”. The lack of vibrant reading culture and critical thinking is stifling the literary scene.
I see a lot of people that claim to be writers but are only attracted to the fame of popular writers; and then the distractions of social media. Critical thinking is becoming something rare because most people prefer to follow trends than ask questions. Great writers are the one who ask questions that cowards try to avoid.
At the same time, there are more writers- than in the past – who are not chained by the idea that a writer should write in a certain way, about certain things. That, for me, is freedom.

4.When I was young, I used to listen to tales by moonlight in its most literal sense. how much has the internet today taken that away from us
I think the internet is the full expression of the flaws of democracy. The feeling that if anything is popular or accepted by the masses, then it has to be super, great, or admirable. Truth is: if a million people support foolishness, it is still foolishness. What the internet has done is dumb down a lot of things to pretty pictures and likes and comments; a celebration of shallowness. The way anonymity allows for irresponsibility, such that people are more interested in getting their voices out (or should I say “noise” ) rather than listening to anyone. I think there needs to be a balance of rights and responsibility for the whole freedom of speech thing to work. What the internet has done is give room for a lot of irresponsible but appealing voices. What the internet has also done is give ample room for writers to bypass the gatekeepers who are stuck in their views of what African stories should read like. It’s about excellence. I don’t really think the popularity of any medium kills another medium. When the radio came it didn’t ‘kill’ the newspapers, when TV came it didn’t ‘kill’ the radio, and so on; so I believe tales by moonlight would still be successful now if it is well packaged for the audience.

  1. I learned you write flash fiction, sci-fi and such strange genres to the Nigerian reader, do you think there is hope for such a writer in Nigeria?
    I don’t really think there is hope for any writer in Nigeria. Like I said, most of the popular Nigerian writers are beyond our shores; having said that, I think there is a market for flash fiction because it is easy to read at a sitting, for people who may not have time for over three hundred pages of the same stories. I listen to radio presenters like KoladeAlabi, Kola Olawuyi and others, so I think fantasy and stuff based on Yoruba spirituality would work; as for robots, time-travel and other science fiction stories, it’s all about the writer finding his or her audience and then telling the stories.

6,The writer is hardly celebrated but there is a special amnesia about modern Nigerian writers, particularly creative writers, what remedy would you prescribe?
Nigerian writers are celebrated in Nigeria when they are first celebrated in the US and Europe. I think our value system is faulty. I mean, who cares about a writer when a thug in agbada is in the national assembly, calling the shots? Who cares about a writer when the entire system tells you in many ways that your excellence counts for nothing? We need good governance; a complete overhaul of this parasitic political system. And then more funding for education. Then writers may have a chance.
7. Share your dream
I have a dream of Africa without nepotism; where excellence and integrity are embraced as norms.

8. In an interview I watched recently you talked about the modern Nigerian writer as distinct and separate from the icons like Soyinka and Achebe, care to share that here?
The Soyinkas and the Achebes were writers who were young in the days of many post-colonial African nations, hence their writings expressed the spirit of the times. Because African writings in English were not many at that time and the platforms were limited, there was a sort of narrow view of what an African should write about. For example, modern Nigerian writers now write crime fiction (LeyeAdenle’s ‘Easy Motion Tourist’), erotica fiction (ObinnaUdenwe’s ‘Holy Sex’). There are writers like Teju Cole, Chigozie Obioma and Sefi Atta who reminds one of the Soyinkas and the Achebes and the Clarks; but I believe writers have more freedom to write what they like without being seen as not writing ‘something serious’.

9.Are we likely to have a Nobel Laureate from the younger generation soon?
I believe so. Nobels are awarded for body of work, not just one or two books; so I believe if the younger generation continue to write excellent works (like the Adichies, Coles, Obioma’s Attas and Unigwes are doing); one day is one day.
10. Old writers were seen as the conscience and mirror of our socio-political growth, what is happening in the modern trend of writing?
There are more cowards in this generation than in the past ones. The love of fame, the love of money; some people are so fickle, there is no firm believe in anything except what is popular and lucrative. People are afraid to speak the truth. We are a generation of cowards.

11. What type of writing attracts the Nigerian today?
Writings by pastors who tell people that tithing will make them rich, writings by pastors who is ready to tell them the demon behind everything, writings about how someone became a billionaire, written by a hungry fellow. Those sorts.

12.Do you have any book published and where can we get them to buy?
My novel, “Kasali’s Africa”, is set to be published in the US. It would be available in Amazon US. I’m trying to get my publishers to make it available in online bookstores here and in Konga and Jumia.

Thank you for coming on Centre stage
Thanks for having me. Very much appreciated.