Exclusive interview with Africa’s first full-length futuristic romantic suspense novelist

My passion for art and literature – Dr. Kennedy

Dr. Kennedy O. Obohwemu is a man of many parts. In this interview with Aduku Aruwa, he gives an insight into the creative energy and passion for literary work that has distinguished him as Africa’s first full-length futuristic romantic suspense writer.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am Dr. Kennedy Obohwemu, a medical doctor with the Federal Medical Center, Lokoja. I am the first son in a family of five from Delta state. I served in Ankpa Local Government Area and happen to be among the five best NYSC members during my service year. I was equally rewarded with the State Merit Award for my effort in 2012.

What motivated a medical doctor to embrace writing?

I have been writing since my secondary school days. Even before I gained admission to study medicine I was writing. So for me writing is like my first love, something I am extremely passionate about.

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Tell us about your works.

My current work is titled “Twisted”. It’s a full-length suspense novel. The original idea developed while I was in secondary school. I just needed time to develop it into a full story. Somewhere along the line, I stumbled upon a research in 2003.The research concluded that Nigerians are the happiest people in the world. I was surprised when I came across the findings. I was asking myself, despite all our many problems ranging from the current level of poverty, insecurity, unemployment, internet fraud, among others, how can a study conclude that Nigerians are the happiest people in the world? I went deeper because I was interested in the research and was able to find out more. My curiosity led me to another research that countered the first one. That one described Nigeria as the worst place to live in the world. I noticed we now had two conflicting research findings on one country. In all, I stumbled on four researches – two were saying Nigerians are the happiest people and the other two described Nigeria as the worst place to live in. So I became more interested in it and decided to create a story out of it. My aim was to create a story that would portray Nigeria to the outside world as one country that is able to, despite its numerous struggles, challenges or obstacles, boast of happy people. We may not be the happiest people on earth but we have a system that is functioning. Whether the outside world likes it or not, Nigerians are making exploits in almost every country in the world and in various fields – science, technology, sports, etc.

This is all reflected in my current novel, a thriller like no other. I needed the major character to be a neutral person, someone that would come into the country and find out things for himself. So in his various day to day experiences, he would be able to draw his own conclusions without being biased. He is also able to find out if Nigerians are result-oriented. That is the crux of the matter. I needed the major character to be a neutral person who would fly into the country and find out things for himself. It’s mainly a fusion of the day to day lives of Nigerians and my personal experience all wrapped in a piece of literary work.

How are you able to combine your careers as a writer and medical doctor?

People have always asked me this question and I tell them its all about time management. If you know exactly what you want in life, you would be able to map out strategically how to go about it. Some people ask, Do you want to quit your profession as a doctor for writing? And I tell them, No, they are two things I love doing very well. I cannot find myself leaving one for the other. Though I have a tight schedule in my medical profession, I make sure I take advantage of every available time even if it means loosing a few hours of sleep. I make sure I write something down every single day. I am pursing two careers on a daily basis.

How would you relate your experience in Kogi with the theme of your current novel?

The truth of the matter is that Kogi is like a mini Nigeria, the people have been very receptive, they treat visitors well. If you visit a particular area for the first time the type of reception and support you will get will amaze you. It’s like moving from one home to another. You never feel far away from home. When I was first posted here, many people expressed shock and surprise. Kogi? How are you going to get there? They encouraged me to redeploy. I didn’t allow their reactions to discourage me. Being an adventurous person who likes exploring, it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. So, right from the word go in Ankpa Local Government Area and later my place of primary assignment, I got nothing but support. The people stood by me. Even while I was executing my project, members of my host community were very supportive right through to the period it was unveiled and launched. I renovated an entire secondary school, among other major projects. The school was totally dilapidated and I took it upon myself to give the college a face-lift. That was my major project. The inauguration attracted people from all walks of life in that area. The Chairman, council, community chiefs were all in attendance. It was something the people had not witnessed before so they recommended me for the State Merit Award. Without such recommendation, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to have bagged the award. It equally contributed to me getting this appointment at F.M.C Lokoja.

Similarly, during the book lunch in Lokoja, the State Governor himself graced the occasion along with such other dignitaries like the Commissioners for health and education among other high profile guests. I had no connection, all I did was to submit my invitation and they all trooped out to witness the event. People of Kogi have been wonderful to me. I would be forever grateful to them.

Tell us about your other works

The current novel is actually my second. The first was published when I was in the university. This one is actually the finished product of what I started during my fifth year in the university. It has received a lot of attention from various newspapers across the country and even overseas. The first work is titled ‘Every Time We Meet’. At the time it was published, it was the first full-length futuristic romantic suspense novel by a writer of African origin. Never in the history of the African continent had a novel of that magnitude been written and published by an undergraduate.

Where do you see yourself say in five or ten years from now?

Well, I have a number of unpublished works. Many of them novels, plays, poems, various collections; I want to see myself reaching the highest level in the literary world. I am currently pursing my Masters in Public Health (MPH) in the United Kingdom. I’m not leaving that field at all. Wherever I find myself, I want to be at the top, the highest level. I am not competing with anybody; I am just being myself, trying to explore my potentials and gifts. I want the world to experience and appreciate the good work coming from Nigeria in particular because we make a difference wherever we find ourselves.

Finally in this digital age were chatting and other social media related activities are accorded more priority than reading, what advice do you have for the youths?

There is no negotiation. When it comes to reading, we must try and revive that reading culture. No matter how digital the world has become, having your traditional copies of books or hard copies is essential. The digital age provides a platform where you can access electronic versions of books. Either ways, whether digital or traditional, the fact of the matter is that we must read. There are electronic versions of my books online because they were published in the United States of America. I chose both platforms to make the books accessible to all.

Culled from The Graphics Newspaper, Available at: http://www.thegraphicnews.com.ng/my-passion-for-art-and-literature-dr-kennedy/

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About Dr. Ken

Medical Doctor, Publisher, Editor, Novelist, Playwright, Visionary Poet, Activist, Blogger
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