"If you want the young to read, make it colourful and put it on Social Media" - Joe Aito

PROFILE: Osemebge Joseph (Joe Aito) is a Nigerian renaissance writer, social commentator, and blogger; an active member of the

Nigerian literary community. His story "The List" was shortlisted for the prestigious 2016 writivism prize. He lives in Port-Harcourt, southern Nigeria and blogs at www.thedarknotes.com.

WALK THE TALK: hello Joe, you're welcome to WALK THE TALK with Akor Emmanuel Oche

JOE AITO: hi Emmanuel, thank you.

WTT: for the readers out there. Who is Joe Aito?

JOE: Joe Aito is a reader who loves to write. He does short, horror, stories and manages www.thedarknotes.com. Recently, he's been experimenting with speculative fiction and sci-fic, but he's still down to tell the everyday stories around him.
WTT: you made the shortlist for the Writivism prize. Tell us how you feel about the whole experience.
JOE: the experience has been engaging. Working with great editors to improve my story has taught me alot. Still, there's alot of luck involved in all of these. I'm glad to be here.
WTT: your shortlisted story "The List" has recieved streaming reviews. Share with us what promted you to write it.
JOE: I was at a traditional wedding. the marriage list was being called out and i couldn't help but see the process as a bussiness transaction. That prompted it.
WTT: many subtle themes resound in the story: racial diversity, drift from culture, e.t.c, but to you, the writer, what is the most central theme?

JOE: choice! That a young couple can decide to do as they please within the limits of the law. That we shouldn't be held down by outdated traditions.

WTT: it is said that African cultures and traditions are fast losing their taste amongst the younger generation. In your view, what is the plus and minuses of this?

JOE: but culture is for man and not the other way round. Culture should evolve. We should adopt the good and leave the bad behind. So yes, let culture evolve. We can't stop it. After all, our parents started it all when they accepted the white man's religions.

WTT: Writing in Africa has taken a new route, deflected from the old. What would you say is the cause of this change in focus and form?
JOE: The inevitability of change. Literature must bow to changing experiences.

WTT: A certain group has been labled as "internet writers" by the older scholars in literature. Do you think this group exists, and what is your response to these schorlars.
JOE: It's funny, but very myopic of them. The internet is just a different platform. One that reaches a wide audience easily.

WTT: "social media has built a bridge across writers in Africa, and also help in revealing them to the wider world" are you in support of this statement?
JOE: Yes. 100%. When you write a good story, you don't need a traditional publishing deal, before someone in Kampala or faraway, Australia, would will see. Type. Post. Share and it's there for the world. People that love what you do will be drawn to you.

WTT: How would you grade the state of publishing in Africa? And what are your suggestions as to how it can be made attractive to the younger generation?
JOE: This is a subject for long debates and discussuons. There's the talk that Africans don't read, that's not entirely true. If you want young ones to read, make it colourful and put it on social media.
WTT: Give us a tip. When should we be expecting a book from you and in what genre?
JOE: a collection of short stories for next year. A novel for the following year. Collection in horror. Novel. a thriller.
WTT: Your parting words for us and our readers out there.
JOE: keep telling your stories. Don't stop.
WTT: Congratulations once again on the shortlist and thanks for the time. It's a pleasure talking with you.
JOE: You're welcome, and thanks to you too.
The WALK THE TALK interview series, features on NELOC BLOG and is anchored by Neloc Blog columnist: Akor Emmanuel Oche, a Nigerian poet, critic, essayist, and thinker.

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