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Young writers are the unlucky generation – Tolu Ajayi

To some Nigerian writers resident in Lagos, it is heart-warming to learn that a former chairman of the state chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Dr. Tolu Ajayi, is still quite active in literary circles, especially at a time most of his colleagues and fellow authors have faded out of sight.

Whereever the business of literature beckoned in recent times, the award-winning author would be found there, nearly always in the midst of much younger members of ANA, Lagos, eagerly mentoring and guiding them, especially the aspiring writers, to the path of creative excellence.

Ajayi, in an interview with our correspondent, explained what has sustained his interest in literary production these past years. He said, “If you are still a writer, in spite of the hard times that we are facing in this part of the world, then it means that you are born a writer. A writer is born, not made. If you are born a writer, words just come to you naturally and you have to use them. You want to manipulate them in a way that you find pleasant. It is an innate talent. This is why I am still very interested in literary activities.”
Trained as a medical doctor, the writer whose stint as the helmsman of ANA, Lagos decades ago, helped to nurture the careers of some of Nigeria’s successful writers, said he retired from medical practice 10 years ago just to concentrate on writing.

“I retired from practising medicine, but I can never retire from writing itself. Every day, words occur to me and I worry about how to use them,” he said.

Although he has been spending a lot of time writing and working on four new books since retirement, he has not made much progress due to circumstances beyond his control.

However, Ajayi takes a glance at young Nigerian writers and describes them as the ‘unlucky generation’ who, despite showing more enthusiasm for literature than their older colleagues and being quite gifted with the art of writing, are not being encouraged by the society.

He said, “I feel very sorry for this generation of writers. I can tell that many of them are born to write. Unfortunately, the Nigerian environment is not the type that promotes or rewards creative writing. Also, the publishers we have here are not promoting young writers. If you are a young writer in this country and you don’t have another career, then you are penniless. It means that you won’t be able to come out with a well-edited and well-packaged book.”

Noting that young writers in the country are literally handicapped for want of an enabling environment, Ajayi would like other Nigerians to come to their aid.
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