I don’t like to waste words, says E.C. Osondu – Dafieta Ighohwo

Day two of the 2021 Ake Arts and Books Festival (AABF), Friday 29 October presented another exciting virtual book chat session with E.C. Osondu, author of the novel, When the Sky is Ready, the Stars Will Appear.

Known for his witty short stories, Osondu reiterates that he is not a fan of verbosity both in actual conversations and his writing.

“I have always liked precision,” he explained “I don’t like to waste words whether in real life or in writing and you can attribute this to a lot of factors.”

“For instance, I don’t think many 500-page novels earn out their length. I am more of a brief person. I am more of precision. But I also think that wit itself comes from being precise. The longer you speak the less witty you are, so I am more attracted to that sense of conciseness…”

He made this explanation when the moderator, Zukiswa Wanner, commented on how he captured “so much in a few pages”.

Further describing his research in writing the book as a “toe-in-the-water”, Osondu stated that while research gives logos — facts, he’s more interested in narratives. He said that since the basic outline of the story has been told severally, the important thing was to make it new.

To kick-start the session, Wanner had requested him to read from the book and the author had settled for chapter one titled “Rome in heaven”. From the brief read, one is immediately struck by the use of simple, descriptive words that aid the imagination of readers.

Names/words like “Mrs Kiokio”, “talantolo”, “Gulu Station”, “Bros”, “Nene’s son” (major character/narrator) which featured in the novel added a local feel making it more relatable.

When asked how his book relates to Ake’s theme, “Generational Discordance”, Osondu said the theme is a call for elders to listen to the younger generation, who have a lot to teach them.

Books are an integral part of Ake Festival. It is safe to say the festival would not be what it is today without its yearly line-up of literatures and literati.

Also on Day two: Joseph Ike’s chat with Howard W. French, author, Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans and the Making of the Modern World (2 pm – 3:10 pm); Panellists Barnaby Phillips, Diyabanza-Kiabanzawoko Emery, Fatoumata Sissi Ngom discussing “Taking Back Africa’s Stolen Treasures”, and chaired by Nii Ayikwei Parkes (3:15 pm – 4:25 pm); Book chat on The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah with moderator, Kaz Lucas (4:30 pm – 5:40 pm);

Integenerational discussion on Wealth and Success chaired by Kovie Biakolo, featuring panellists Otegha Uwagba, Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani, Osaretin Asemota (5:45 pm – 6:55 pm); Ade Bantu quizzes Falana on her music career (7 pm – 9 pm) and the documentary, I am Osun by 9:30pm

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