Interview with Yejide Kilanko, Author of Daughters Who Walk This Path
Daughters Who Walk This Path depicts the dramatic coming of age of Morayo, a spirited and intelligent girl growing up in 1980s Ibadan who is thrust into a web of oppressive silence woven by the adults around her. It’s a legacy of silence many women in Morayo’s family share. Only Aunty Morenike—once protected by her own mother—provides Morayo with a safe home, and a sense of female community which sustains Morayo as she grows into a young woman in bustling, politically charged, often violent Nigeria (http://penguin.ca) Afrocentricity Unleashed caught up with Yejide Kilanko, the author of Daughters who walk this path. Enjoy!
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Can I start by asking (for the benefit of our readers), who is Yejide Kilanko?
Yejide Kilanko: I’m a poet, short story writer, novelist and Social Worker in children’s mental health. I currently live in Ontario, Canada with my family. My debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, was published by Penguin Canada in April 2012.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: What was growing up like?
Yejide Kilanko: I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria as the first of five children. My father, a retired university professor, shared with us his love of books and scrabble. So, I fell in love with words at a very early age. I subsequently spent six years at boarding school in Onitsha, a city located in the eastern part of the country. I’m very thankful for that experience and the friends I made.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: When did you develop your passion for writing?
Yejide Kilanko: I started writing poetry at the age of 12. It was the best way I dealt with the angst of growing up in very uncertain times. As a Political Science undergraduate at the University of Ibadan, I wrote for two student press organizations.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Were there any authors or books you particularly liked while growing up?
Yejide Kilanko: A lot of the books I read came from the African Writer’s Series and from these, the works of Buchi Emecheta, Cyprian Ekwensi and Ama Ata Aidoo, really made me think about issues relating to gender roles and societal expectations. I also read a lot of the books from Macmillian’s Pacesetters Series. In my teenage years, I started watching and reading plays. Zulu Sofola’s Wedlock of The Gods and Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Bansi is Dead are favourites.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Your new book “Daughters Who Walk This Path” has received a lot of positive and some negative reviews locally and internationally with regards to the portrayal of ills of the Nigerian society. What do you have to say about this?
Yejide Kilanko: I’ll like to say that I’m delighted that people are reading Daughters. It’s every writer’s dream. One thing all Nigerians, can all agree, is that there’s lots of room for improvement in our society. For that change to happen, we need to have ongoing, meaningful conversations. That I can be a little part of making these conversations happen, is an honour.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Would you say the issue of child abuse and the abuse of women is still a prevalent issue in Nigeria in the 21st century, or could we play safe and stick to a more comfortable fictional explanation?
Yejide Kilanko: I definitely think that women and child abuse is still a big problem in Nigerian society. I know many people who have been affected and I’m not alone. While Daughters is a work of fiction, it does present an accurate picture of current events.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Would you say male chauvinism is highly prevalent in the African and Afro Carribean society?
Yejide Kilanko:I do think that male chauvinism is highly prevalent in African and Afro Caribbean societies
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Why would you say this?
Yejide Kilanko: From what I know, African and Afro Caribbean societies are mostly patriarchal in nature. In my opinion, this only supports environments where male chauvinistic beliefs thrive.
Afrocentricity Unleashed:In your opinion, what do you think the government, Non-governmental organizations or Charity bodies can do to rehabilitate children or women who are or have been subject to abuse?
Yejide Kilanko: To me, the use of the word rehabilitation, suggests that children and women who have experienced physical or sexual abuse are somewhat responsible for their situation. I don’t think that’s the case. What they need is unflinching support from their families. Relevant services from NGOs working with that population. It’s also important that law enforcement personnel and judiciary, protect and provide opportunities for to seek redress.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: So besides writing potential bestsellers, what are Yejide`s pastimes?
Yejide Kilanko: I love to sing and usually listen to music while I write. I also like to cook. I find the whole process of chopping and stirring, very relaxing.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: What food do you like preparing the most?
Yejide Kilanko: My favourite dish to cook is spicy jollof rice. My kids who love to eat it, call it red rice. They’ve told me to open a restaurant.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Is there any book in the pipeline which your ardent readers can possibly look forward to?
Yejide Kilanko: My second novel is all written and due for publication in 2014. I’m currently researching a third.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: What is your best advice for aspiring writers like yours sincerely? (Yejide laughs at this point)
Yejide Kilanko: Read, read, read. Read books across different genres. You’ll learn a lot. A writer is someone who writes so don’t be afraid to put something down even if it doesn’t sound right. You can worry about fixing the sentences later. Don’t give up on yourself before you even begin. Seek feedback about your work. Don’t let it crush you. Practice does make better. Keep writing even when you want to give up. Remember to enjoy the process. Remind yourself daily why the heartache of writing and seeking publication is all worth it.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Can your readers connect with you on any of the social Medias i.e facebook, twitter and the like?
Afrocentricity Unleashed: On a final note, is there anything you would like to say to your readers out there?
Yejide Kilanko: Thanks for your support. It really makes all the difference.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: Yejide, Afrocentricity Unleashed would like to wish you best of luck in your career and earnestly look forward to another opportunity to discuss with you when your new book is published.
Yejide Kilanko: Thank you for having me and I look forward to coming back in the future.
Afrocentricity Unleashed: We look forward to having you back. Thanks again.
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Posted on October 23, 2012, in Interviews and tagged Ama Ata Aidoo, Athol Fugard’, Buchi Emecheta, child abuse in africa, Cyprian Ekwensi, Daughters Who Walk This Path, Macmillian Pacesetters Series, male chauvinism in african societies, Patriachal african society, penguin books, Penguin.ca, Sizwe Bansi is Dead, University of Ibadan, Wedlock of The Gods, women abuse in africa, Yejide Kilanko, Zulu Sofola. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.