"New Wave syndrome kills Efforts" -Ray Ndebi

Interview with Ray Ndebi on WALK THE TALK (part I) by Akor Emmanuel Oche PROFILE
Ray Ndebi, is the author of THE LOST GHOST: sons of struggle; a cameroonian living in Yaounde and the co-founder of Le Salon Du Livre Yaounde-cameroun (discussed about at length in the interview). He is also an active member of OneAfricanChild (an organisation promoting quality education for poor children).

Ray Ndebi

NELOC Media: Hello Ray, you are welcome to the Walk The Talk with Akor Emmanuel Oche.
RAY: Hello Akor. Good evening. Thanks for letting me in.

NELOC Media: tell us about the man; Ray Ndebi
RAY: i'm a happy father, not yet married, but happily in love. A Tai Chi and meditation practitioner. I'm also studying ways to improve writers' skills and help them write with their souls, 24/7. I read and advice authors.

NELOC Media: about your book "THE LOST GHOST..." why was it written and what is it's message to society?
RAY: The Lost Ghost: sons of struggle is a book that promotes solidarity, love and family spirit. Sam, the chief character of the novel lives in a slum, loses all his family and has to make his way through violence and constant danger. In life, there's always a sliver lining despite the struggle. That's the message.

NELOC Media: As a writer, how much influence can your literature have on the political climate of Africa?
RAY: literature still plays an important role in Africa, but not as it used to do in the 1960s and the 1990s. In some countries. Nigeria for instance, literature still has a vivid influence in politics. Unfourtunatly, in some others, writers have become supporters of administrations... Alas!

NELOC Media: with the advent of the Internet, there has been a writing revolution, especially in Africa. In terms of style and focus. What do you think about this new wave?
RAY: Internet, in terms of awareness, has considerably helped authors connect to the rest of the world; foreigners can now access and appreciate one's work with just a click. But in terms of style, many authors have lost authenticity. So many authors are in such a hurry to publish that their writings are poor and tasteless. "New wave" is exactly the expression that "kills" effort. Authors lose focus (language and emotions) and publish lines that are not appropriately reviewed. Internet is not a nagative tool, but it has to be used once all the process is complete.

NELOC Media: it is broadly insinuated that, Africa has its own blend of literature, perculiar to its people. In your view, are this new wave writers keeping up to its established standard?
RAY: "its own blend of literature, peculiar to its people..." that's what makes foreigners think there is no literature in Africa, just something that mostly serves for anthropological purposes, instead of literary intrest. We are writing to share the human in us, not the African, there are so many tribes in Africa, that we cannot even fully appreciate each other. Only universal expression can connect us to the rest of the world. There is just one literature; it's that everybody can relate to.

NELOC Media: As a foremost advocate for childrens rights in Africa. What role would you say literature plays/ is playing, in the proper upbringing of children?
RAY: Children have all to learn from us. Literature can tell them the beauty of the world and the hopes despite the endless struggles. Positive and well written books promote a peaceful hygiene: respect of others and diversity. Literature offers children, a world that strengthens their mind and build up their leadership abilities. Because education is the key to a rainbow world, literature is the hub of all teachings.

NELOC Media: there is a lingering issue. "a lack of interest in reading in Africa". In what ways do you think this issue can be resolved?
RAY: there's not lack of interest in reading in Africa. Two years ago, I conducted a survey and i realised that people were reading. The issue is: why are they reading books from western countries and less from authors in their neighbourhood? Nowadays, authors don't write books of interests in Africa; the increasing number of printers is the cause of mass publication. The quality of books is not considered. Why should people read books that don't tell them who they are? They need good companionship. Authors should consider language and culture before writing. The reader expects a book that pleases and educates. That's why i've created a group that work on that with authors. I encourage all those who have active souls to focus on that and help authors in their regions.

WTT: in terms of sharing and translation of works. What is the synergy between Anglophone and Francophone countries in Africa?
RAY: both sides have to share, in order to build a stronger community to develop literature. But there won't be a wide interest or understanding, because of the language. Though we have all tools to be bilingual, the reality in the field tells a different story. That's where translation is important. Yet books lose many aspects of the spirit of the author during that process. Books need to be translated adequetly before being shared, because it's not about the story an author tells, but about the touch of his soul. There's so much to do to that end.
WTT: a new bridge is being built across Africa by the social media. How does this affect literature in the continent?
RAY: it's very positive, in general. As for literature, the impact is terrific. More and more connections are made between book lovers. We learn the way others express themselves about a particular subject. The realities are the same, only the way there're written differ and that diversity makes literature in the continent richer. Elsewhere, there are initiatives that promote the growth of literature, social media help gather minds, thinking alike and strengthen the concepts.
WTT: tell us about your organisation.
RAY: Le Salon Du Livre Yaounde-cameroun, is an initiative legally working in cameroon. It was created in 2014 by two authors: Gregoire Nguedi and Ray Ndebi. After an observation, we decided to create something that would help authors (published or not) improve their skills and understand the purpose of literature. We are working both in French and English in several areas:
-Reading (how to read a book to understand the author from his souls).
Last year we organised several reading and writing contests to understand the difficulties faced by authors and readers, so we can best help them. I'm the chief reviewer and translator. I also work with authors abroad in novels and poetry. We have alot of members now.
WTT: for those in and outside cameroon who wants to get publish in the country. What is publishing like, from editorials to sales?
RAY: There are a large numbers of publishers. Their addresses can be found online. The process differs from one house to another, and highy depends on the funds an author is willing to invest. Sales and marketing are the sole responsibility of the author.
WTT: for authors across Africa. What are those vital services that Le Salon offers?
RAY: reading and reviewing, translating, advising... All that they need, for their books to be of literature before they are submitted to a publisher. Sometimes, authors send their books from all continents for us to check how they were published; some want them to be reviewed and published again.
WTT: drop your contact address for us: emails, postal mail, website, mobile et all.
RAY: phone: +237674346639. Mail: lesalondulivreyc@gmail.com. www.plaireetinstruire.wordpress.com (the blog is in french, a billungual website is under construction). Facebook page: le Salon du livre yaounde-cameroun. P. O. Box 35034 yaounde. Anyone contacting us shall recieve a reply within the same day.
WTT: your word of wisdom for writers; (budding and established) all over Africa.

RAY: before your start writing, make sure you are familiar with the language you're using. What you say matters less than how you say it.
WTT: any parting words?
RAY: Read your grammer and open your mind.

WTT:It's a pleasure talking to you sir, we appreciate the time and effort.

RAY:It's a pleasure. being hosted by such a brilliant mind! My time's Literature, Thank you.

Akor Emmanuel Oche is a poet, critic, essayist, and thinker. Send views and commentries to akor.emmaoche@gmail.com

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