As a lover of all things Nigerian as well as American, and also given our double identities here at Isioma’s Style Report, a fellow Nigerian-American, Tope Folarin has won the Caine Prize for African Writing for his ‘delightful and beautiful paced narrative’ entitled ‘Miracle’ which is from his forthcoming novel entitled ‘The Proximity of Distance.’
Set in North Texas, at a Pentecostal revival service, ‘Miracle’ tackles the gullible relationship (in the form of believing in miracles whether real or imagined) that a faithful congregation has with it’s blind pastor-prophet. It is a story that is common all over churches in Nigeria and really all over the world, in that it explores how a congregation responds to the possibilities of miracles served from God through their pastors. What is interesting is that we have seen this scene before, a pastor comes into town, touches the temple of the faithful and somehow they leave the service believing that a miracle has indeed been performed, whether real or imagined.
But therein lies the conflict that the story tries to address, the possibilities that miracles performed at churches in reality, may indeed be figments of the imagination or in the words of the author ‘lies’ (as in the case of when the protagonist understood that the touch of his temple, meant that he had to fall to the ground, though his eyesight in reality is not healed), but also truths (the sheer simple belief in a miracle no matter how preposterous it may sound), both which Tope suggests ‘must be cultivated in other for a community, a congregation of believers to survive.
This brilliant story which can be found here; http://www.caineprize.com/pdf/2013_Folarin.pdf, deserves to win the prize as it is indeed as the reviewers described it ‘a delightful and beautiful paced narrative.’ But, unlike many others who today rushed to be among the first to publish this exemplary feat by a well-deserved Nigerian-American, here at Isioma’s Style Report, we have tried to do something different. Rather than give our audience the same monotone style of reporting on Tope Folarin, we decided to do a little bit of research on him, to find out more about the man, his education, his inspiration and even his writing style for other aspiring writers. This has now culminated into a new segment here on our website aimed at providing unique and intelligent report on trailblazing Nigerians entitled; ‘8 Things You Didn’t Know About…’
With this segment, we hope to set ourselves apart from all the noise all over the internet, by taking the time to provide short credible, intelligent and unique reports about our subject of interest. So without further ado, here are the;
‘8 Things You Didn’t Know About Tope Folarin’
On his Education; Oluwabusayo Temitope Folarin is a ‘Son of Oprah’ in that Oprah Winfrey’s generosity to Morehouse University enabled him to gain full scholarship at this historically Black Atlanta Institution where he graduated from in 2004.
On his family; He is the oldest of five siblings with a strict disciplinarian father who always reminded him and his siblings about how lucky they are to be ‘desperately blessed to live in US.’
On thoughts about failure; Tope thinks that ‘failure is essential, though it is never pleasant.’ He believes that ‘failure keeps one honest and hungry.’ While he has ‘experienced his fair share of failure, he is thankful for it and he doesn’t work hard to avoid failure.’ Instead ‘he tries to be the best he can be in any particular situation.’
On what inspires him; ‘People who go against the grain. He is inspired by people who continue to think outside the box even when inertia would lead them to doing more conventional things.’
(As gleaned from a BBC Focus on Africa Interview conducted today, July 9th, 2013)
On his identity; Tope prefers to be referred to as a Nigerian-American (with the hyphen), because he straddles back and forth between both identities.
On when he writes; Tope stated that he is noturnal, in that he works all day, but writes mostly at night, specifically between 9pm and 1am.
On his writing style; His favorite form of writing is in the communal voice ‘we’ such as in the story where he states the following, ‘We need jobs. We need good grades. We need green cards. We need American passports. We need our parents to understand that we are Americans. We need our children to understand that they are Nigerians…We need miracles.’
On his father; He was raised by a disciplinarian ‘father who always informed him whenever he was entering their home that he was entering Nigeria,’ even though they lived in America.
I hope you enjoyed this and thanks for reading!