BBR: Please we will like to know about your background, growing up and living.
Cheta Igbokwe: I grew up with my parent in Owerri, Imo State. I am from a family of six and I happened to be the last Child of my Parent. As the last child, growing up was fun, I learnt a lot from my four brothers and a sister. Their views and experiences really shaped me.
BBR: When did you start writing?
Cheta Igbokwe: Unlike many writers, I do not claim to have started writing from my Mother’s womb. (Laughs). But I think, the age of seven will be closer to the truth. I made stories with illustrations which my grandmother loves to read.
BBR: What was the first thing you ever wrote?
Cheta Igbokwe: First thing? (Laughs).it will be really difficult to talk about the first thing I have ever written, but I can only remember the first my writing was published. My writing was first published in the 10th edition of the Searchlight Magazine, under the editorship of Peter- Divine Akujobi and the moderation of Justin Oparaugo. From there, I kicked off. I later became the Associate Editor and Deputy Editor of the same Magazine in 2013 and 2014 respectively. In 2014, I became the Founding Editor of the Elites Journal. I write for the Leader Newspaper, and I have a column in the National Gazette Newspaper.
BBR: How was publishing for you? The stages, before you got this one?
Cheta Igbokwe: (Breaths in deeply). It wasn’t easy. I published my book with Authorhouse a Penguin Random House Company in the United States of America. I sent my manuscript to them and it remained with them for month and finally they sent me a mail, praising my work. What I enjoyed mostly was that. I had the opportunity to control how I what my work to look. For instance, I made the selection of my book cover, Yes, and the made my book available to online bookstores including Amazon.
BBR: Tell us a little about Drums of Sunrise?
Cheta Igbokwe: Drums of Sunrise is an epic story, set in South Earthen Nigeria during the pre-colonial era of 1890’s. The story presents an insight into the African-Igbo Society, in a typical pre-Christian Igbo Community Umuabali, characterised by some heinous practices such as the worship of many deities and the Osu Caste system.
BBR: Do you have people you respect in the literary industry?
Cheta Igbokwe: I love creative people. I respect them. I see writers as demi-gods. If God could create the world, writers could create stories, therefore, writers are gods and demi-gods. I respect writers like Prof. Onyeka Nwelue. I was with him after the Njiko carnival organised by Charlyboy Oputa. His stories are amazing. And I have continued to tell Nigerians, that if there is nothing Prof. Nwelue has taught us, He has taught us how to celebrate our own people when they are alive are not just when they are lying helpless and dead. I also respect Chimamada Ngozi Abichie, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and lots of other amazing writers.
BBR: What other thing do you like apart from writing?
Cheta Igbokwe: I love to teach. Yes. I love teaching the little I know. I love to read, too. I love to read what other writers have written.
BBR: How do you see Nigeria today, the economy, the system everything?
Cheta Igbokwe: There is trouble in Nigeria. There is no need to hide words. Big trouble. Everything has shattered. I mean everything. The economy is in a mess. Am sorry to say that Nigeria stifles creativity. How does a writer write when there is no electricity? We need light to power our writing gadgets. There is no light, there is no fuel, and the value of dollar is high. Our people are being killed in cold blood. I hope you have heard about how Fulani herdsmen killed about 100 Igbos in Uzo Uwani Enugu, and what the government could ask us to do is to watch and pray. Yes, watch and pray. They kill our people and we watch and pray. it is only an Igbo hungry man who sits at home and await for gods to feed him. And our President is just less concerned. He hasn’t addressed the issue up till now, he only did that at a book lunch. Why not a National Broadcast? All the International Organizations are silent. Where is the Amnesty organization? Haven’t they heard about the massacre of Igbo people in Enugu or are the Igbo lives less important than the lives of the victims of the Paris attack?
BBR: What would you say about the Nigerian Literary Industry today?
Cheta Igbokwe: The industry is flourishing but am very worried about the reading culture of our people. People no longer ready, and it is an issue for serious concern. I pray the industry continues to grow.
BBR: What has the success of your book been like? the sales, the promotion?
Cheta Igbokwe: Drums of sunrise is a success. I must confess. I never budgeted the height it has gotten now. Its just like a dream. The sales are still going on. It is print on demand. The good thing is that, even in one hundred years, if you need Drums of sunrise you will get it. The promotions are going on. Authorhouse is doing a great job in that. And I even received a mail recently, that Drums of sunrise will be featured in January and February 2017 Edition of Bookmad Digital magazine, the biggest online magazine of Authorhouse.
BBR: Thank you for your time with us. Its nice meting you.
Cheta Igbokwe: Dalu nu!