I don’t remember how we met. Uzo reminds me that he was surfing Wordpress looking for authors, found my blog, and read some of the posts about Mali. He made a comment, I responded and a new friendship was born.
Uzo is a young Nigerian with a blog. He lives in Asaba, Delta State (South-South Nigeria), one of the oil producing states in his country. I’m an older Canadian with a blog. I live a world away (in so many respects) on Vancouver Island, Canada.
Uzo writes novels. I write novels. Uzo writes in English, which is not his first language. As he says, “English is quite a vast language. Every day is a learning process for me.”
We begin by talking about books. We both like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’d read Half a Yellow Sun. He told me about Purple Hibiscus. Here’s what he had to say about that book. “Purple Hibiscus is a wonderful story. Adichie did a marvelous job there from the first person pov. Kambili's account is so real and reflects the life of a rich, caged Igbo child-woman during one of the military regimes in Nigeria.” We’re both anxious to read Americanah.
Uzo says, “I’m a no-good writer. I'm just a wannabe like you guys call it.” On the contrary, Uzo is a powerful writer. Here’s a sample.
Although the Liberian war is now over, I cannot wish away the memories. There are nights in my sleep when I still find myself dressed in army uniform, AK-47 ready. On these nights I hear the voices of parents calling their children; others joking, shouting: “Where’s your bunker?” The air cracks and I hear the sounds of diving jets and stuttering LMGs. Fire, blood, bullets and bodies everywhere. Things soon simmer to normal as danger passes. People fill the streets, young boys and girls going on various errands. Then he appears in a blood-stained enemy uniform. His oily dark face is teased with abandon. He’s about to aim his rifle at me. In my dreams, he dies in different ways. I’m his killer. Something tells me that he is my son. But I’m too afraid to believe it.
I’m not a professional editor, but I’ve offered to help Uzo with his English as he’d be drained if he had to pay an editor, so files are sent back and forth. I’m careful not to tamper with the uniqueness of his voice.
Only the eyes that moved swiftly would see the legs that desperately sprinted across the farms and pathways. Thereafter thoughts would arise if the runner was after something, or rather, was the prey.
Beautiful, right? And yes, my life, as a person and as a writer, is richer for having met him. That’s the beauty of the Internet.