Interview with the Author Moses Olufemi

At the time my children started Primary School in Nigeria most children’s books in English were published by British publishers who had a monopoly of the market. Children’s reading books were often very uninspiring indeed. It is true that tales and stories in the local languages were available at that time usually badly printed and on poor quality paper.

At least two of the founding fathers of the Nigerian literary scene wrote some books for children. Chinua Achebe, most well-known for “Things Fall Apart” wrote “Chike and the River” (1966), “How the Leopard got his Claws” (1972), “The Flute” 1975 (which my children greatly enjoyed) and “The Drum” (1978). Cyprian Ekwensi wrote “The Drummer Boy” and “The Passport of Mallam Illa” (1960).

The publishing situation in Nigeria has long since changed and there is a plethora of young talent. One such young children’s writer is Moses Olufemi the author of “Imuli’s Journey” and “The Beautiful Farm”. Awaiting publication are “A Night of Flames” (a collection of short stories), “Dog City” and a novel “Pastures”. He is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors. According to Moses it is still not easy to find agents and publishers in Nigeria.

Moses was born in Lagos, Nigeria and besides writing is a computer programmer. He has been writing for the last eight years. When I inquired if his parents had read to him or told him stories the answer was a definite “no”. As to whether English classes at school had made him want to be a writer he responded “not exactly”- an intriguing reply. Moses refused to be drawn further on the subject. I received the impression that he considered these questions unimportant.

On the following questions he was more expansive. I asked Moses why he wrote for children and he said “I write for children because I first and foremost want to impart moral education through my writing. I want them to be better people in the future. this is the message my books carry.”

I was delighted to learn that the children’s book market in Nigeria is highly competitive and flourishing. Schools now purchase books by Nigerian authors for reading in class and this greatly increases an author’s sales.

Moses response to the question “Do libraries in Nigeria play an important role in children’s reading habits?” was that “Libraries in Nigeria are not really playing a major role yet”. Children apparently are not interested in reading outside school and Moses feels strongly that a reading campaign is needed to encourage children to read and to take a greater interest in literature.

I asked the question “What advice do you have for a novice writer”?to which the response was “I always advice young or aspiring writers never to give up. Rejection does not mean incompetence. If a publisher rejects your work. Refine such work and try out another publisher. Don’t give up.”

My final question to Moses was what was his great ambition in life and he gave me a very concise answer “To become a successful video producer. I would like to produce visual educational materials in future, most especially for use in Nigeria”.

I really wish him well.

An extract from “A Night of Flames” will be featured in my next Blog.


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One Response to “Interview with the Author Moses Olufemi”

  1. Ray Amadi Says:

    I am happy to read that the publishing situation in Nigeria has changed. Nothing could be more discouraging than an aspiring author to have his or her manuscript rejected. Rejection in itself could be seen as a challenge and the author could be pushed to work harder on his materials, but the door seemed to be tightly closed to new and unknown names. It is the new ones that get to be known, and if there is no encouragement, how could they survive?

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