I have always followed her story on social media and her Instagram feed has always encouraged us to read more and more of African literature. When I decided to celebrate her and other literary enthusiasts and ‘hubists’ of like tastes, I asked for her story in essay form. Enjoy.
The LitYard: Words have always surrounded me; have always been good to me. My father and grandfather loved reading, grandfather also wrote. Mother bought me books from the Ladybird series and I would stack and colour-code them sometimes. One day, I was walking along holding one of them, and a woman pointed me out to her son. She said, “Look at her, she always has a book with her; how won’t she be smart?” Even though I did not always have books with me, that statement made me seek more books.
As I grew and life began to unfold, I withdrew into myself and fully committed to the relationship with literature. I moved from children’s literature to Mills & Boon novels and other foreign ones. Unfortunately, the recommended texts in school, which were mostly African, did not hold much appeal for me; very few of them stayed with me. I remember The Wives’ Revolt by J.P. Clark (the cover was sufficient entertainment by itself), Without a Silver Spoon by Eddie Iroh, and The Bottled Leopard by Chukwuemeka Ike. Somewhere along the line, I became obsessed with knowledge, and this only fanned the desire to read more.
I started writing much later, and it took almost as long as it took me to start writing for me to gain confidence in my voice.Fortunately, I found a community of writers who opened my eyes to the magic that is African literature, who showed me that our stories matter. Many of them no longer write, but they ignited a fire in me. That’s a part of what I hope to achieve with The Lityard.
The Lityard is something that was always going to happen. It took several forms and had several other names over the years, but here it is.It’s here because I’m passionate about literature, about stories and the heart of them. I always say that a technically sound story is great – I appreciate the magic that can be created with words and punctuation marks – but give me a story with heart any day. The best stories are the ones that climb into your heart and etch a corner for themselves there.
The Lityard is a space for storytellers to bare their guts and share their love of literature. My dream and goal is that it develops into a thriving community of writers, readers, and lovers of words; that it becomes a platform for more people to realise themselves and tell their own truths. It’s almost a reality now. Wait for it.