As part of YNaija’s dedication to the arts and especially literature from Nigeria and the continent, we have opened our platform to novelists and poets and creative non-fiction writers, to share with us an integral part of their work and give us some much needed insight into why they have chosen to express themselves through this form.
We are begin this disourse with Morayo Kolesho, a young lady whose excellent memoir, “Hernortherstory” chronicles through spartan prose and lush photography. Her memoir spans the year she spent serving the nation in Kano, the attendant culture shock she experienced as a woman who had spent the majority of her life in Lagos, and how she came to fall in love with the sahelian plains of Kano. As is customary with YNaija, we also got Ms. Kolesho to answer a few questions for us about her life, her work and the National Youth Service Corps. She is a delight and we hope you’ll enjoy learning about her as we did.
Every year young Nigerians experience the culture shock that is the National Youth Service Corps programme and choose to document their experience in blogs or social media. You chose to write a book. What inspired this choice?
I always wanted to keep a journal of my travel experiences but never did until I received my posting letter from the NYSC to Kano. Rather than despair, I looked forward to documenting my time there in words and pictures and along the line, creating a book out of it.
Was there any pivotal moment/experience in your service year that cemented the idea of writing a book for you?
Was there? The more I journalled my experiences, the more I wanted to make them into a whole thing that people could share in. A book (soft and hand) was most practical.
Your book incorporates a lot of excellent photography into your story telling, a passion you took up in University while working towards a first class degree. How did you manage to find a balance between the two?
Lol, I see you managed to slip that in. They rarely clashed though. Maybe once or twice, like when I ditched classes to take pictures for Slum 2 School’s Photograph a Child in 2013. My education topped my list of priorities while I was in school, evenings, weekends and holidays were good enough to practice my photography. They still are.
What do you think of calls to either make youth service optional or end it altogether?
Choice is fundamental to human existence but I would never advise that the NYSC scheme be totally scrapped because I enjoyed it.
For a while, I wondered if I was still in Nigeria because the weather, the dressing, the food, the mannerism of the people were so different from what I was coming from and used to. I cannot trade this experience, which I might not have had if not for the NYSC, and I would encourage any youth to embrace the scheme.
Much of your book explores the diversity of Kano and how because exploring the country is not really a pasttime that is encouraged, many people miss out. What were your favourite parts of Kano?
I liked lots of places but top on the list were the Ancient City Gates, which are in different locations in Kano eg BUK road. I also like Zungeru Road, it housed my adopted guardians, my first home in Kano. I like Bompai Road, I had lots of memories there, from the Sharwarmas to the ice creams to times with friends at Central Hotel, lots of memories. I like Emir Palace road, which houses the palace, the museum, and other nice buildings. Finally, I like Wudil, my host community.
What are in the cards in the future for you; are you going to take on writing and publishing full time?
I currently work full time in a private architectural practice, and I am enjoying it. My life still stretches long and beautiful ahead of me, and I think there’s more writing in there somewhere.