It’s 2118 and you’ve arrived in Lagos for a book festival. When you step out of the airport, what is the first thing you see?
Fresh out of the ultraspace MMA airport with the sun high up in the sky, my eyes meet the words ‘Yellow Lagos Shimmers in the Literary Multiverse. Welcome to Ake Festival’, on the reader outside the Rejuvpod. Rejuvpods are all the rage – a chance to charge your travelling suit, grab a nutritious meal, sleep, read and rejuvenate post traversing space and time. The alternative to this is getting on the superloop for another journey to the festival grounds but I need a break. I want to feast on purple moringa, leaves plucked fresh from the aeroponic sills in the ‘pod. I’ll steam some acha too. I’ll serve it with lashings of Obudu mountain honey, toasted peanuts, fresh pawpaw, cilantro and scent leaves and finish with fresh, tart lime juice. I’ll sip on some fresh passion fruit tea and have a steam bath before I head out.
You’ve been selected for a mission to the moon. Which African author are you taking and why?
Ayobami Adebayo, because: ‘Stay With Me’, Ile-Ife (of previously unknown shared histories – we have friends in common) – and wondering what next, because I can’t wait to read it, them.
What invention do you think would change the lives of Africans today?
Nutrition-based home or community growing systems which address key needs from health to resources – space to water. The quality and availability of food is still an issue in many parts of Africa.
Two things you’re doing when not reading or writing?
Cooking and eating (or thinking about food, cooking and eating) are right behind reading and writing. I wish I could add sleeping to the list though for it’s much desired and seldom had.
To what extent has African literature envisioned an African future?
I haven’t read much futuristic African literature and so can’t give an honest assessment. I did read and like Chikodili Emelumadu’s ‘Soursop’ in Apex Magazine (Jan 2016), not only because it features me, but because she shares what may well be the taste futures of tomorrow, done virtually.
What book do you think best captures Afrofuturism?
Ehm… I don’t know.
You wake up one morning to find that you’ve grown a pair of wings. What do you do?
Fly, fly, fly, right out of bed to Japan. I imagine the wings have GPS or does having them automatically imbue me with a sense of direction? Yes to all of the above and Tokyo’s Shibuya district for some Honey box toast – a decadent ice-cream Sundae in a golden buttered, crunchy bread box. I would hope this ‘developing wings’ happens early in the year during the sakura – cherry blossom season. The idea of fresh, slightly cold weather, blue skies and grounds carpeted with delicate pink cherry blossoms gives me the happy chills. Hopefully, the wings too are long-stay visa granting and I get to hang out in 37 of the 47 prefectures in Japan while waiting till the 2020 Olympics kick off. Opening ceremony, synchronised swimming, what else? When do I get my wings?
Name one book that made you think differently about the world.
‘Momofuku’ by David Chang – a cookbook that follows the chef’s inspiration, dilemmas, quarterlifer crisis with recipes. Differently because I didn’t realise at the time just how much we’re all swimming in the same oceans where we see the banks, just beyond our outstretched hands and generally move in that direction. Or not. How much finding meaning is a universal search, and it doesn’t matter who, what, where. In the end, it made me realise how very similar we are in spite of our obvious differences.
What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
Stemming the flood and tide of the ideas and seeing them to the very end. I like that I am a thinker but I often find myself – towards the end – asking ‘who sent you?’ Why the need to be so creative, so daring? And again, ‘who sent you?’ It’s often the fear of failing, as though my entire worth was at stake. I know it isn’t and I don’t mind failing and still, it scares me. This is the most difficult part of my creative process.
What is your African dream?
That Africa is the destination of choice for Africans looking to move, live, love and explore.