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POET LAUREATE INTERVIEW WITH DAMILOLA OJIKUTU

The poet laureate is easily one of our biggest events as a community. Just as the Nobel Prize is bestowed on an individual who has done exceptionally well in a particular field, with the poet laureate, we seek to honour and crown an outstanding creative every year.

We make sure that our themes border on heavy African narratives. For last year, we had “sankofa yenkyi”, a Ghanaian word from the Akan tribe that means “it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”

Why Literary Organisations Ask For Previously Unpublished Entries


A number of people still view publications from the stand point of what it was some years back when the only thing considered as published are those ones put down in black and white as hard copies. This would still remain the truth in the absence of evolving technology.
The evolution of technology has undeniably changed the face of everything we do as humans. Over time, technology has become the measure of value for our thoughts, actions, decisions and even our ability to be creative as writers.
Publication is a noun derived from the Latin word “publicare” which means to make something public. Vocabulary.com defines a publication as something made to communicate with the public. This explains that works posted on a website, blog, social media page, an open e-literary journal or any other media, which is accessible by the public, is a published work.
It is no news that most literary organizations clamor for unpublished entries when they call for submissions. Most people wonder why this is now a governing principle in the literary world.

Read also: How To Win A Literary Competition

Why Do Literary Organisations Call For Unpublished Entries

Imagine a situation where your aunt promised to get you a pair of shoes. I’m sure you will be excited. Now, imagine her giving you the same shoe your cousin wears or the exact shoe you got two months ago. That will definitely be way lower than what you expected. Just like you, organizations need spanking new, unconventional, exclusive, and original entries.

An unpublished entry is a test of creativity. Literary organizations believe that you as a creative should be able to prove and defend your creativity at any given time.

The need to stay away from copyright infringement is one major reason why any literary organization will insist on having a piece that has never been published.

Nobody goes after what he already has, we only go after things that aren’t within our reach. A reader who has read your already published entry will not be enthusiastic about seeing the same thing on another space. Literary organizations believes readers are hungry men and they want to feed their hunger with something unusual every time readers turn to them for milk.

Thanks for reading through!

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Poet Laureate Interviews: Meet Temitope Komolafe

I am Temitope Komolafe, a student of Medicine and Surgery in University of Ibadan. I am a very spiritual person and I believe God is and should be the integral factor in life. I write and specialize in screenwriting. I love reading and am very open to learning from everything because I have come to discover that the more we know, the more we discover how much we don’t know

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Poet Laureate Interviews 2020: Meet Salim Yunusa

Tell us more about you?

Salim Yunusa is a content creator, a bilingual writer and translator. He’s the founder of the literary organization, Poetic Wednesdays Initiative and a Co-Founder of a national NGO, Project Grassroots Nigeria (PGN). He graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He’s pursuing his MSc in Disaster Risk Management Studies from the same institution.

Several of his creative pieces have been published by Daily Trust, ASIRI magazine, The Art-Muse Fair, PIN, NorthernLife, Tribesmen Review, Writers Space, DesignWorld Magazine, The Campus Watch, and several anthologies.

He was a finalist for Michael Afenfia and TVO Tribe competitions. He is also longlisted for the 2020 Aminiya Trust Hausa Short Story Competition.

Salim is currently working on his debut poetry collection, From The Potter’s Kiln.

How long have you been writing for?

I’ve been writing for nearly all my life. When other boys picked balls and girls picked skipping ropes, I picked up pens and papers. Though, I only became serious with writing around 2016.

What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the ad for the contest?

I was like, this is cool. It’s something I may enter. I didn’t enter though, until the last day.

What does Sankofa mean to you?

Sankofa represents yearnings of every black man, woman and child in knowing their roots and filling in the gaps, gaps caused by colonialism and slavery. It is of paramount importance that we all know where we are coming from. Knowing our roots; knowing how deep and wide those roots seeped in this vast stretch of space called earth would give everyone a sense of pride and belonging.

Tell us about your entry.

Musings of Mama Africa is a poem that started as a feeling, not a thought. It was something that I have always felt but lacked the words to perfectly describe.

In the poem, Africa is a woman who yearns for all her children; the ones stolen and dragged across the Atlantic and the ones pillaged right here. Being the Mother of Civilization, she has seen all and known all. Despite the carnage done to her, she still is very proud of her children and hopes that one day, they will return home to a grand homecoming.

Did you have any challenges in writing your piece?

I don’t really remember because I wrote the piece back in 2017. So, I actually dusted it off and made few corrections.

What is the future of literature in Africa?

The future of literature in Africa is now. We’re seeing how powerful and important the voices of people – young people – are in shaping our continent today. With a lot of young people embracing the arts and Literature as a means of expression, the future is vast and endless.

What does being a tribesman mean to you, and how do you think being part of a community will influence African literature?

Being a tribesman is nice; it means I’m not alone and I’m part of something bigger than myself; which is all we all ultimately hope for. Being part of any literary community gives one a sense of belonging and responsibility, just like one would in any family. It is our job to spread the gospel and make that change right from the grassroots

Sound bite, anyone?

Read Salim’s entry here!

See how to vote here!

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Poet Laureate Interviews 2020: Meet Uche Balogun

Tell us more about you?

I’m currently a student of the Nigerian Law School; I’m a book reviewer and a creative writer. I am also a volunteer.

Not so fun fact: I’m shortsighted and can be very cynical.

How long have you been writing for?

I’ve been writing since primary school. I found some things I wrote many years ago and I was horrified.

What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the ad for the contest?

I thought that I’d better send in my submission fast because I discovered the contest on the day of the deadline.

What does Sankofa mean to you?

To me, Sankofa means we cannot know who we are without knowing where we come from.

Tell us about your entry.

My entry is a science fiction short story, set sometime in the future, in Nigeria. It came to me in a dream.

Did you have any challenges in writing your piece?

Since the idea came to me in a dream, the only difficulty was getting myself to put pen to paper (metaphorically, because I actually typed it on my phone, and edited it on my laptop).

What is the future of literature in Africa?

I don’t know but I hope the future of literature in Africa is diversity, inclusivity and cultural pride.

What does being a tribesman mean to you, and how do you think being part of a community will influence African literature?

The thing about being part of a community is that I have a responsibility not to take my writing for granted and to do better. I think this is how it influences African literature, by making us aware of our responsibility.

Sound bite, anyone?

Read Uche’s entry here

See how to vote here!

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Poet Laureate Interviews 2020: Meet Esther Mbabie

Tell us more about you?

I am a final year student at the University of Ibadan. I am also a radio presenter for both English and Pidgin programs, a content creator, a creative writer, a Spoken word artist, and a passionate volunteer. I am passionate about God and people, especially children. I am the Executive Director of Chrysolite Foundation, an NGO aimed at advancing the welfare of future generations through empowerment and education. I am a big fan of the statement “live full, die empty“.

How long have you been writing for?

 Since I knew how to hold a pencil (at least so I was told) but I have been writing for as long as I can remember.

What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the ad for the contest?

 I read the word “SANKOFA” over and over and thought “I will like to see what new ideas my head will supply for this theme.”

What does Sankofa mean to you?

Just as it means in English, SANKOFA to me means accepting that there is a past, where good and bad things took place and all I can take from the past are lessons but thankfully there is also a future to work towards and that’s what matters.

Tell us about your entry

Although my entry speaks on the sacrifices a daughter has had to pay for her mother’s mistakes before eventually learning that she is in charge of her own story, the idea of the concept is to tell a story of how too many times we carry the mistakes from the past along with us until it begins to ruin every chance of a better future.

Did you have any challenges in writing your piece?

I had the first line almost immediately but it took a long time to figure out what story I wanted to build up to.

What is the future of literature in Africa?

I love being a tribesman. In the short time that I have been following the TVO tribe, I have loved every content that has been put out as they have all been constantly reminding me of the power of the pen.

What does being a tribesman mean to you, and how do you think being part of a community will influence African literature?

I think being part of a community will keep the African Literature spirit alive because we can always get inspired by the struggles and victories of the people in our community.

Sound bite, anyone?

They say writing a book is as easy as writing A-B-C but I am not sure anybody is willing to read 275 pages of ABC. So eventually, it’s never that simple.

Read Esther’s entry here now!

See how to vote here!

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Poet Laureate Interviews 2020: Meet Ogunkeye Tobi

• Tell us more about you?

I’m a simple, quiet, and collected person; my hands and brain speak more than my mouth does.

• How long have you been writing for?

About 8 or 9 years now. I started with prose, now I’m basically into poetry. I am looking forward to simulating the three forms of literature though.

• What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the ad for the contest?

 I felt a “this is meant for me” kind of thing. I was absorbed by the title.

•  What does Sankofa mean to you?

 “He who knows not his past has no fuel for the drive to future” -Ogunkeye Tobi.

Tell us about your entry?

 The poetic piece centers around Africa’s fall as a sweet continent, her toil through the ruins caused by her own ignorance; and the solution to her ordeal.

• Did you have any challenges in writing your piece?

 Yes, I did. I got to know about it late; about 3 days to the closure. I could’ve done much research on the topic, but I didn’t doubt the potency of my entry

• What is the future of literature in Africa?

The future of African Literature is like the sun which rises every morning, and goes home at night only to repeat the cycle again. The people it shines on feels its impact and grow old, but it doesn’t.

•  What does being a tribesman mean to you, and how do you think being part of a community will influence African literature.

One of my goals in life is to die empty. I believe pouring out my all, adding to everyone who has an affinity for knowledge and beatification of African minds will make me close to achieving this goal.

Sound bite, anyone?

??

Read Tobi’s post here now!

See how to vote here!

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Poet Laureate Interviews 2020: Meet Azeeza Adeowu

Tell us more about you?

 I am a graduate of Biochemistry and I think I’m as passionate about science as I am about literature.

For how long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since my primary school days, lol. There’s a composition I wrote then that my father still makes reference to. I started calling myself a writer in 2015 though, that was the year I began to focus on my writing.

What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the ad for the contest?

I thought about a book that has a similar title to the theme. I haven’t read it yet but I listened to a podcast where the author spoke about the book and the meaning behind the title.

What does Sankofa mean to you?

Sankofa to me means reaching back to the past in order to make progress in the present.

Tell us about your entry

My story, “Mide is a Good Girl”,  is about 2 sisters who grew apart after they lost their mom. The elder sister, Mide was tired of trying to get her younger sister, Shalewa to behave properly and open up to her.

Did you have any challenges in writing your piece?

 I always find it difficult to write a story with a theme or subject in mind. I love when my stories take their own forms and themes. So, I had to start and restart several stories until I came up with this.

What is the future of literature in Africa?

 It’s quite promising. I’m a Bookstagrammer and the way people consume and push African literature is impressive. In the future, I believe we will have even more amazing writers and opportunities.

What does being a tribesman mean to you, and how do you think being part of a community will influence African literature?

Having a community allows people to connect with others; that’s a great way to grow together, learn to perfect your craft, and uncover new talents.

Sound bite, anyone?

 “If you don’t write about yourself, someone else will write about you and you will not like it.” –M.G. Vassanji

Read Azeeza’s entry here now!

See how to vote here!

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Poet Laureate 2020: The Voting Process

Read the shortlisted entries here!

– Visit TVOTRIBE’s Twitter page (@thevictoriaocom) through the voting poll link. This link would also be sent to entrants via email.

– Vote using the poll and leave a comment on your preferred entrant.

– To increase an entrant’s chances of winning you can also leave a comment on the shortlisted entrant’s post on Instagram.

– Please note: all votes after 11:59 PM WAT, Mon 18th January, 2021 will be disqualified.

– Congratulations in advance, Tribesman!