By Prince Etim
Pelu Awofeso is a journalist, travel writer and author. He was recently announced to be a judge on the Pendown for Friendship competition. We caught up with him to discuss his role and thoughts about Nigerian writing.
How did you choose writing as a profession?
When I graduated from the university and served, seeking employment was a very difficult thing. I did the normal applying but no response. So I thought to myself instead of writing and began to look inward to find what exactly could do to stand on my own without having to seek for applying or want a job from employers again. I remembered that I did write in secondary school and a member of the press club back in the days at the university.
That gave me the idea of writing, so I started by writing as a freelance. I also knew that if I wanted to journalism fully I have to go through journalism training. So I applied for a correspondent course in creative writing and journalism. At that time there was no internet: you had to write and mail your correspondence to the UK . I did that for nine months, did what I needed to do pass and got my certificates. I knew I was ready to go into journalism professionally and the job opportunity just came. So I began to write. I found myself, my style and my skills in writing. Everything worked just because I looked inwards for what I thought I could do.
Do you remember the first article you wrote?
My freelance writing started as being a freelance columnist and the first article I wrote was about my tour of the town of Jos because that was the beginning of my journalism. I was living in the city. I wanted to talk about my experience in the town and some of the things happening.
What is the writing best way of writing or anybody can write?
I actually believe that writing can come in two ways. Either it comes naturally to you or you are kind of know how to write.
Sometimes you get inspiration to write and sometimes you don’t get that inspiration at all, my advice for anyone who wants to write let there environment speaks to them because writing is actually a function of the environment that you live.
If you are in an environment that does not inspire you to write, then there is no amount of writing you will do, it would definitely be flat but if you are in the right environment the atmosphere will be conducive to write about, there will always be that topic or subject.
Why is it important to express one’s thought in writing?
Writing is enduring; we are all products. We were at one point in our lives in school, reading text books and those books.
This shows that writing is timeless and ageless. We read books that are not of our time, so if you want to write something the world would remember, then write about what the world would live by itself.
Have you ever had your writing rejected by publishers, how did you reacted and how do you overcome the challenges?
I haven’t had to send my writing proposal to media houses because when I started writing there was not a lot of them but some of my proposals were responded to. I decided not to write anyone and start blogging. With that, you don’t need to write any editor; just publish yourself. It may be hard when your proposals get rejected but when you believe in yourself and not lose hope, you’ll succeed.
What are you looking out for from contestants in the “Pendown for friendship “ competition?
The whole idea for “THE PENDOWN FOR FRIENDSHIP” COMPETITION is really unique. I haven’t seen a brand that will come out and say I need to write about friendship.
Friendship is a word that everyone talks about but not many of us take it seriously enough to want to share our thoughts about it.
What exactly is a friend? What is friendship?
Do we have best friends anymore? Only yesterday on social media, I saw a post that said what is prevalent these days are social media friends, not real friends. Now the society believes we are all living social media lives and we don’t give time to nurturing physical friendship with a person. Having a brand asking people to write about friendship is therefore remarkable.
Describe your role as a member of the jury?
There are three members of the jury and we are all coming with over individual perspectives on writing. We are all going to see the entries and appraisal item based on the guidelines that we have to say if the constant is on the right track. These will help in our decision on finding the best of the best in the competition.
Do you think writers are appreciated enough in this part if the world?
Creative people generally in this country are under-appreciated in this country. Generally, creativity is not valued not only in Nigeria but in Africa as a whole.
That is why any many of the writers we have in the country are moving out of the country to a place where they are understood and appreciated. I know many writer friends that left the country for a better society where they can be appreciated. Till the country starts believing and appreciating creative people the country would not see things in perspective that can help improve the society.
Why is it a good thing that 33 Export larger beer created this initiative?
This is very important that we bring back our writing culture by encouraging and enabling more people to write. It is very heartwarming that 33 Export Larger Beer came up with that idea on writing. They could have gone in a different direction but chose creative ideas of writing.
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