The African heritage is truly beautiful, glamorous and fascinating but the fast decline in the speaking of mother tongue, telling of African stories are major causes for concern. Hence, for this edition of exclusive interview in the Author’s Corner, we are delighted to have this mind-blowing interview with another great author, DR MIKE CHIMEZE NATHAN AHAMEFULE, the author of the amazing book titled “DAYS OF MY FATHER”. Join us as he shares interesting facts about the beautiful heritage of the Igbo people from West Africa, Nigeria; his journey as an author and the impact of his works on the society.
Please, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Dr Mike Chimeze Nathan Ahamefule. I hail from Amucha Njaba, Imo State, Nigeria, and I am married with three children. I am the founder and senior Pastor of Eden Churches—the headquarter of which is in Maryland, USA—and also the director of Eden Constructions. I am the author of the book titled “Days of my Father”.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be an author and why did you decide to be one?
I was prompted to be an author when I became aware of the increasing decline of the interest of people in reading and literary activities because of the present hyper-internet trend.
I was motivated heavily by JJ McAvoy, the author of Ruthless People, who, at the age of 23, authored twelve (12) books, five (5) of which were the 2015 Amazon bestsellers. I was thrilled when I got to know that she was a Nigerian (Judy Onyegbado) who only adjusted her name to fit the trend of market demand for books.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey as an author? What were the struggles or challenges you’ve encountered and surmounted along this journey?
Writing for me was like embarking on a journey to an unknown world while still existing amid the living. Men are yearning for knowledge but a lot of these are still hidden under the bed.
Initially, I was ill-motivated by the lopsided orientation that my efforts may not necessarily be a speedy income-generating one. However, the thought that I would advance the cause of knowledge and intellectuality was the positive drive I needed.
How did you come across TEBEBA Publishing firm and why did you choose TEBEBA as your publisher?
I was advised by my editor, Ms Grace Obi, to take up the services proffered by TEBEBA after months of shopping for a competent, experienced and cost-effective publisher.
Now, let’s talk about your book, The Days of My Fathers. What inspired you to write it?
I found myself in positive anger over an incident that occurred in Washington DC in 2015.
Two middle-school girls came to DC on vacation with their parents. I brought my children to have first-hand interaction with them but was shocked to realize that these homegirls, although attended middle school in Owerri, could neither speak nor understand Igbo.
And even worse, it was difficult for them to understand the Igbo my American kids were speaking.
What is your book about and who is it for?
The Days of My Fathers is a collection of the events that occurred during my days as a young boy in Nigeria. It was envisioned to capture the lifestyle of my fathers, to ensure that nothing is lost to the bin of history. Although not appreciated in today’s world, it will imbibe a nostalgic feeling in the minds of those who witnessed those years, as well as spike up doubt for the newfound generation.
It is suitable for middle school and high school pupils as well as for students of African history.
What can you say was the most defining moment for you during the days of your fathers?
Among the defining moments I witnessed during the days of my fathers, an outstanding one is nature. During those days, everything and everywhere spoke nature. Life was safe and secured with minimal modernity and the absence of basic hygiene. Wealth was less emphasized and people lived longer.
Would you call the traditions and cultures practiced during the days of your fathers obsolete and un-needful in this present age?
Those were not just traditions but their ways of life and most of these are still held in high regard in this present age. However, because of the influx of modern technology and the internet, some of these lifestyles are now moribund.
Our history is being slowly eroded; how do you advise we safeguard them for the future?
Every era of life has a history. If you don’t know where you are coming from, you may find it difficult to know where you are going. History dissipates lessons that require not much elaboration and teaches us its experience. This is why these so-called antiquated ways of life of past generations should not be allowed to die.
Looking at it now, which do you think is better: the days of your fathers or this present age?
It’s absolutely difficult to categorically lay a claim on transgenerational superiority. During the days of my fathers, people lived long and fulfilled without any of what we are enjoying today. Life was organic and natural. Yes, civilization has helped advance life positively, we still live in regrets and unfulfillment due to our greed to have a taste of the high life.
In the days of my fathers, poverty was not a word; everyone survived by agriculture, with only a few who aspired for more. They were more or less contented with what they had.
What parts of culture from the days of your fathers are relevant even now?
Society, today, regrets the fading away of some vital food items. Still, foodstuffs like papaya, bitter leaf, okra, bitter cola, ants, etc., are very much in use and are natural and medicinal. Pharmacologists have even been trying to transform some of these into modern medicines.
In the aspect of basic education, subjects, such as vocabulary development and oral English in English studies, religious studies, history, etc., are still relevant for the development of the child’s psychomotor skills.
How have those times been able to shape people for greatness?
Those times are emphatically the real-life with an absolute nature. They were the days of self-contentment. I got my hardworking personality from the challenges I faced in those years. Christianity was a core part of life and people held on to God with fear and trembling. Most of us who were groomed in the “Days of my Fathers” hold our heads high through storms because we have already trained and conditioned for the worst.
What is your advice for parents trying to bring up their kids without any knowledge of elements of their culture?
Culture is a heritage, which should be preserved and transferred to generations. Unbiblical standards are now the standard of children upbringing, which tends to be the norm of societies. Parents should, as a mark of importance, transfer the positive virtues they learnt in the days of their fathers to their children.
What inspires all you do today?
I am inspired mostly by the Biblical injunction that I can do all things. I get greatly inspired to search for virgin opportunities with the understanding that I am the architect of both my downfall and my rising.
There are needs in every side of life I turn to; I always pray that I will be an instrument to meet them and get inspired to break even in this.
I derive greater strength through the indigent upbringing I received, which made me cherish and appreciate every little opportunity I have. I derive joy in being a distributor rather than a consumer. For me, this is the fulfilment of my life journey.
What has been your most memorable moment so far while working on your book project?
The most memorable moment I had while working on Days of My Fathers was when I was invited by The World Igbo Congress in Washington DC when they got wind of the content of my manuscript. Besides, my little girl, Dorothy, hence started putting together her book.
I never knew I had a lot deposited in me until I was done with my project.
As an experienced author, what advice do you have for someone who wants to get his/her book published?
Have great passion for reading, writing and research, as it is the trait of every author and aspiring author. Secondly, a successful book is birthed from those untapped yet potential areas that writers often shy away from. Rather than aspiring to go broad, authors should limit themselves to a particular area of life and bring from them core values, which are yet to be unearthed.
Which authors do you admire?
Chinua Achebe is the head above all. I was so amazed seeing Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe read in the middle schools in the US.
William Shakespeare will always take a person on unending life trips through his dozens of literature.
What is the best piece of advice you have received as an author?
I was challenged by JJ McAvoy, the author of Ruthless People. She challenged me to keep writing without financial constraints. For her, writers are among the few people who never die. Though their flesh dies, their words last for ages.
Do you intend to write more books and why?
I write by revelation and I’m inspired to not drop the pen. I am already planning for my 4th book. Presently, I have three on the table, each undergoing structuring and composure.
Where and how can we purchase your book?
Days of My Fathers will be in Nigerian bookstores very soon. Presently, you can order the hard copy online through Amazon, Apple, etc.
My goal is to flood the Nigerian market, airports and possibly, middle schools with the book.
What are your final words to the audience?
“Days of My Fathers” was a four-year deep research into the lives of our fathers. Every family should have a copy in their home to teach the young ones the values of our fathers, which ought not to be buried in the bin of history.