Talking Independence and More With Dr. Sarah Ladipo Manyika
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Manyika, Sarah Ladipo (2010-05-17). In Dependence (Kindle Locations 1092-1093). Legend Press. Kindle Edition and Cassava Republic Press, Nigeria. The book In Dependence is one that tells a story spanning several years involving two major characters from different nations. It is a story about love, culture, race , relatedness and In Dependence. It was a fast read and a fictional book that had 'meat'. I got a chance to interview Dr. Ladipo Manyika this month, it was a fun interview and since I loved the book so much, the interview definitely took an 'I'perspective. Read the excerpt, listen to the pod to hear more from her and get the book. You won't regret it. Two thumbs up. Please click here to visit her page: here
Why did you choose this name In Dependence?
I think I chose it for two reasons. One, it plays to political themes that are within this novel. The novel starts shortly after Nigeria gains its independence and it speaks to issues within relationships. The notion of how we are dependent on each other in a relationship and not just relationships between individuals but also between nations.
Is it autobiographical?
I am not quite old enough to have had my formative years in the 1950s. It is about my parentâ€™s generation. I have found that the older one becomes, the more interested one becomes in one's parents generation. It was a period that really interested me historically. This was my parentâ€™s generation and I wanted to know more about their stories and their friends. It is not their story but it could have been their story.
Is there a particular reason you donâ€™t really focus on race?
I wanted to tell a story and I didnâ€™t want to be didatic. I didnâ€™t want to write a history book or a sociology book. I was telling a story of two main characters, one that leaves Nigeria at the dawn of independence, and the other, Vanessa, whom he meets and who is the daughter of an ex-colonial officer. I wanted to explore the nature of relationships and what brings people together and what holds people together. In that respect, racism was an issue. But, I didnâ€™t set out to write a thesis on racism. I just wanted to enjoy the writing of the story and to delve into issues of character. It is a big novel. It starts from the 1960s and comes up pretty much into the 2000s.
for more - listen to the podcast.
On Christine and the Diasporan/Immigrant experience:
The immigrant experience is an experience that intrigues. This is a theme in my writing as a whole. I was interested in Christine's immigrant experience and her dealing with issues of depression. The latter was, in part, linked to her immigrant experience and also linked to the reality of being a student in an institution that had to deal with the pressure of academia. I wanted to explore the notion of depression. Exploring the issue of how one deals with problems and issues.
for more - listen to the podcast
Is Vanessa - part of you?
Writers often unconsciously (or consciously) put bits of themselves within different characters so now doubt there are bits of me in Vanessa as there are in other characters too.
On Mixed Race Adoption and Suleiman?
For all teenagers there is confusion. It's a time when one is trying to find oneself. I think if you are asking about the experience of those who are mixed - cultural mixed, mixed nationality, adopted and black and raised by white parents - definitely the questioning of who am I and where do I come from will be natural.
sarahladipomanyikaOn Short stories:
I am writing a collection of short stories as well as a novella and I think you heard one of my more recent stories being read on youtube. My first youtube appearance! This piece is entitled Morayo. (">Click Link To Go To Youtube Video) It deals with a lot of issues that have to do with aging and how aging is treated in different societies. This story is about a Nigerian who is living abroad who is relatively old and kind of looking at her life and how she lived it. These are issues that are of interest to me now.
When did this interest in the aging population start?
I am no longer 21 and as one grows older, I think one thinks about aging more. I have richer interaction with older people. My grandparents have passed on. I have older friends who are living in elderly homes and I visit them. I am also drawn to stories that I feel havenâ€™t been told. I feel that there are very few stories set in the African continent or diaspora that are love stories. Similarly, I feel that there's just so much more to write on immigrant stories in general. There are older people who come to live in different parts of the world and their stories are so interesting. So when I write a story, I write the story first and foremost for me. If other people want to read then thatâ€™s great.
On incorporating this notion of Aging into Independence:
When you go to these elderly homes you will meet so many different types of immigrants, working and owning care homes for the elderly. The elderly is definitely a thing for me and it is based on my interaction with the elderly in different societys.
Amount of Research In The Book:
I researched Oxford during the 1960s, I did quite a bit of research into, for example, what people were reading and discussing at that time as well as what music they were listening to etc. during that period. To further familiarize myself with the period, I also interviewed people who were students in the 1960s. In a way, I could get carried away with the research
What author inspires your writing:
I am inspired by so many. I am constantly reading and discovering new writers. One of the last books that I read was by David Grossman - his novel, 'To the End of the Land'. It is quite a dense book but really worth reading. I've also been reading a lot of women writers recently such as Marilynne Robinson, for example, as well as Lahiri, Shoneyin and Atta. I also enjoy writers such as Achebe and James Baldwin especially for their essays. And there is much exciting new work coming out of Nigeria and Zimbabwe - and authors who are just emerging such as Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Going back to Africa, one of the things that is so interesting and encouraging to see are some great publishing houses such as Nigeria's Cassava Republic Press and Weaver Press in Zimbabwe.
Part of being a writer is getting used to rejections. I remember at the beginning the instinct was to take it really personally. As a writer you have to have a lot of confidence in yourself. I find that it helps to always hold to the fact that I am writing stories for myself. Thatâ€™s the primary thing for me. I want to write and not to feel too dejected by rejections.
What will you like others to know about you as an Author:
I will like them to read what I have written and hopefully find something in the writing that they connect with or enjoy in the novel or my other writings. For those not coming from Africa, I will like them to realize that there is a lot coming out of Africa and the diaspora. It is an exciting time for authors in Africa. I will like them to realize that not all stories are depressing.
If you have the urge to write then you should run with it and keep writing. Improve your craft and remember that rewriting is very important. Read widely and enjoy listening to stories too. I am very influenced by listening to stories. There is a lot that a writer can learn from listening to stories and even eavesdropping.
To listen to the podcast and more, please visit: http://www.pamelastitch.com/books/358-in-dependence-with-sarah-ladipo-manyika.html