I was inspired to write by the people who sit around my village church to share palm wine after Sunday Mass, by the Bible, and by the humour and endurance of the poor.
Growing up, my mother told me folktales and got me and my three brothers to read a lot. I became a fiction writer during my seminary days. I wrote at night, when the community computers were free. Computer viruses ate much of my work.
Finally, my friend Wes Harris believed in me enough to get me a laptop. This saved me from the despair of losing my stories and made me begin to see God again in the seminary. The stories I saved on that first laptop are the core of Say You're One of Them.
Click here to start reading Say You're One of Them now.
Credit: Sophie CottrellUwem Akpan's words have inspired the Benin-born, Grammy Award-winning recording artist Angélique Kidjo to record "Agbalagba," a song written with her longtime collaborator Jean Hebrail in the Yoruba language. "Agbalagba" roughly translates to "the ancestors," as the song pertains to young peoples' responsibility to those who came before them. Angélique Kidjo commented, "I immediately felt a bond with Uwem. . . . The second we met, it was as if we had always known each other. I'm proud to contribute a song to his beautiful collection of stories."
"I am very excited that my stories have inspired such a powerful song, and I hope that both the song and the book will bring readers and listeners a greater understanding of the problems of people in Africa," Uwem Akpan said.
Listen to the song and learn more about Angélique Kidjo at About Angélique Kidjo.
Credit: Comfort Upkong