EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ERIATA ORIBHABOR
Midway into the month of June, we have decided to publish our educative interview with an inspiring poet who is popularly known for crafting beautiful poems using Naija languej.
In this informative interview, Sir Eriata Oribhabor sheds light of lucidity on his sojourn in the world of poetry. He talked about when he started and what inspires him to script his thought-provoking poems.
Enjoy the interview!
Kreative Diadem: Who is Eriata Oribhabor?
Eriata Oribhabor: Eriata Oribhabor is a poet and frontline promoter of Naija languej. He started off writing poetry in the indigenous Nigerian Pidgin currently being standardized as Naija languej. Writing in the languej, he authored; “Abuja nakpangba and Oda puem-dem (2011), edited, “IF YU HIE SE A DEPRIZIN” (poems) and “AMEBO YAD” (collection of plays). A former chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Abuja Branch, Eriata Oribhabor is the author of two poetry collections; “Beautiful Poisons” and “CROSSROADS & THE RUBICON”. He is the Editor, WUSHAPA – Beating the Drums of Peace, Who Shall I Make My Wife (collection of Food related poems), and a passionate lover of the streets where he once hawked various items in Warri, Nigeria; his place of birth.
KD: Can you please share about your childhood memories?
Eriata: I am 3rd in a family of 8 (all male) and grew up in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria. I am from a humble family. I attended Baptist Convention Primary School in Warri and trekked to and from school daily after going to hawk “Akara, agidi, etc).
KD: When did you start writing poems?
Eriata: I started writing poems in the secondary school but took it seriously when I came to Abuja in 2005. By this time, I was conscious of writing for people to appreciate and critique.
KD: What inspires your poems?
Eriata: My writing is inspired by my personal thought and feelings, events/activities and the environment and all that comes with it; good, bad and ugly.
KD: Do all your poems have a unifying theme or you just write on the matters of the moment or what inspires you?
Eriata: Poems can never have a unifying theme except one sets out to have them crafted that way. For example, one could devote time to write on the environment, Beauty, Sex, Food etc. A good example is the Food Poetry Contest sponsored by Eriata Oribhabor leading to the publication of one of the most treasurable books I have ever come across entitled; Who Shall I Make My Wife? (Anthology of food related poems) edited by Eriata Oribhabor. Another good example of poems dedicated to a theme is that on Sickle Cell Anemia Safe Dreams Initiative sponsored by Awodiya Funke.
KD: Can you shed more light on your tenure as the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Abuja Chapter?
Eriata: I was voted as Chairman, ANA March 22nd 2012 for a two-year tenure. As the Chairman of ANA Abuja, I repositioned the concept of book reading and author hosting/staging of literary events and made reading much more attractive to members of the literati in the Federal Capital Territory. At the time I was ending my tenure in 2014, lots of people who hitherto avoided coming to meetings became drivers of positive changes for the association. Importantly, the generality of members now saw how things could be done differently for good, applauded my tenure which is still a reference till date.
KD: Let’s talk about your exceptional promotion of the Naija languej, what inspired the writing of some of your books in the language?
Eriata: Naija languej is a standardized version of Nigeria pidgin. If you ask me why, I will simply say, while Nigerian pidgin has no standard spelling, Naija languej has one being experimented upon. I started writing poetry in Naija languej before using the English language. More than 40 million Nigerians speak in pidgin English and always referred as Nigeria’s unofficial lingua franca. So referred, it tells how much it plays in the social relations of the most populous black nation in the world. Why it is not made official? It is because it has no standard and most people still live in yesterday thinking pidgin shouldn’t grow like other forms of communication but end as one for entertainment. The literary and economic benefit of standardizing Nigerian pidgin are overwhelming. Currently, the following works have been published in Naija languej:
- Abuja na Kpangba an Oda puem-dem (2011) – Eriata Oribhabor
- IF YU HIE SE A DE PRIZIN (Antoloji of puem-dem fo Naija languej) Edited by Eriata Oribhabor
- AMEBO YAD (Antoloji of ple fo Naija) – Edited by Eriata Oribhabor
KD: Amidst your published works, which one do you consider as the best?
Eriata: It’s difficult to speak on this because what eventually becomes the toast of readers may not be the one considered best in one’s thinking. Only the people can speak. For the records, apart from the mentioned works, I have two collections of poems viz:
- Beautiful Poisons
- Crossroads & The Rubicon
KD: Aside poetry, which other genres of literature appeals to you?
Eriata: All the genre of literature appeal to me and I promote all.
KD: Which literary works are you working on at the moment?
Eriata: Literary works in the offing are:
(1) Good old Naija (collections of Essay) – Eriata Oribhabor
(2) Join Me Write a Poem (Uncommon Poetry Anthology) – Editor
(3) That Beautiful Picture – Eriata Oribhabor
(4) Colours & Borders – Eriata Oribhabor
KD: Can you share the memories of your most memorable day as a poet?
Eriata: My most memorable day was when I was hosted by Abuja Literary Society where I read from my first book, Abuja na Kpangba and Oda puem – dem in Abuja.
KD: In the school of poetry, who are your mentors and role models?
Eriata: Mentors and role models? Poets whose works featured in the first books of poetry I read while in secondary school.
KD: A lot of people believe that poets and writers are not appreciated in Nigeria. What is your take on this?
Eriata: Poets and writers are appreciated. The level of appreciation is the question. It is so because we are in a corruption ridden society where merit is compromised daily in all ramifications. What do you expect? This is why continuous promotion of literature and writing is vital towards changing orientations for good. Meanwhile, as long as a country’s politics is wrong, the concept of the good life; the essence of politics, will keep nosediving to the detriment of the citizenry.
KD: What is your advice to young poets?
Eriata: My advice to poets is to always read wide. Write. Read. And, be open to critiquing. Finally, writing should be seen beyond writing for writing sake. Or, poetry for poetry sake. Poetry should be seen as a vital tool for reorienting a people towards greatness.
KD: What do you think about KREATIVE Diadem?
Eriata: A diadem is a crown of power. Creative Diadem is a non-literary literary body that values creativity as a crown of honor readily deployed for the development of literature for the good of the people.
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Let us know your sincere thoughts about this interesting conversation.