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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meet the Writer, Adunni, of Under The Brown Rusted Roofs

Abimbola Aduuni Adelakun is the author of the pastoral novel, Under the Brown Rusted Roofs, a book which perfectly uses Yoruba's folklore to mirror the malaises of the country, the joy and sorrow that exist in the communal relationship of the Yoruba and the polygamy of the patriarchs. She writes for the Punch Newspaper as an Opinion Columnist. If you don't know her, it is possibly you have not been reading Punch Newspaper every Thursday. She studied Language and Communication Arts at Ibadan University, receiving BSc. She also graduated with Masters at the same institution.

In this interview, Adunni humorously speaks about writing, her book (UTBRR) and the impact of her journalism work on her creativity.




True Talk: Who is Abimbola Adunni Adelakun?

Abimbola Adunni Adelakun: Frankly, I don't know myself. I believe I am still being unravelled. The part of me that is visible now is a young feisty spirited woman who is going from one level of strength to another.


TT: How did you come about writing?

AAA: I think it is more appropriate to say writing came about me. It started when I penned words in school big notes to stave off boredom and document my wandering thoughts. Most of the things I penned down have gone with the wind but then, it helped me to build some self confidence. Then, I didn't see myself writing because I wanted to have a book. A book ke? I thought that was for geniuses and very very on top people. I didn't think I could do it. It never crossed my mind. I just wanted to write because my hands were itching and my mind was full of lots of stuff I thought I should put down. Then, it was therapeutic for me too. If I felt depressed or down or anyhow, I turned to writing and I would be fine. Writing, for me, thus started as something I was doing to keep my hands occupied and to help myself feel good about my life. For a long time, I never imagined it would be taken serious. I had written several pieces and they are all in my wardrobe in Ibadan, rotting away. I believe one day I will do something about them. My BA project is a novel too and I believe all those things that I have written have helped me to be a write Under the Brown Rusted Roofs.


TT: Your write for the Punch, what has your experience been?

AAA: Fantastic! That is another level of experience in writing. In this instance, there are rules that must not be broken. News writing is a technical thing but the discipline is worth it, frankly. Then, writing a column is another discipline entirely which has its own rules but allows for more creativity. It has been a hell of interesting experience, one which I am glad for because it helps me learn the ropes and at least ensures I do not stop writing.


TT: How does your writing for a print medium impact on your creative writing?

AAA: It affects me both positively and negatively. Positive in the sense that at the end of the day, writing is writing but doing various types of writing is a superb experience. I can flow in between technical and creative writing. I can learn from one and bring it into another. I can write everyday and that is a lot of advantage.

It could be negative in the sense that if you are not careful, you begin to sound like a journalist in creative writing and then stifle your own creativity.


TT: Aside the challenges of meeting up with deadlines, what part of you does it take to always measure up to standards, especially when it comes to Opinion Writing which you do for the Punch?

AAA: You want to know the truth? Research. Nothing kills a well written opinion like a badly conducted research. There are people out there who know one or two things more than you and are waiting to jump on your back and say, 'yeah, I got you! You are daft!!' So, you have to really really be sure. Besides, people tend to say 'You are wrong' when they actually intend to say 'I disagree' so you need to let them know that what you are touting is your opinion and be decisive about the matter.


TT: True Talk has been following you for quite a while now, you were writing for the Literary Column and Super Thursday spread of the newspaper before you progressed to getting featured on the back page. Was that really some kind of promotion in your journalism career?

AAA: Yes and No. It is a promotion because it is the highest form of responsibility that can be given to a journalist or writer anywhere. It is not a promotion because I still remain where I am. I still do stuffs other journalists on my rank do and I still obey my bosses.


TT: What brought the idea of Under The Brown Rusted Roofs?

AAA: I wanted to write a book about Ibadan, that was where it started. Prof Femi Osofisan gave a tripartite faculty lecture then and said Ibadan has fallen because the city no longer produces writers. As a proud Ibadan girl, I felt bad and swore I would do something about it in my own little way. That was where the whole thing came from. Even then, I didn't have the story or the least idea but I knew I wanted to do it.


TT: You meshed the folklore of the Yoruba, Nigerian politics and Ibadan lifestyle skilfully, what inspired the story. Why do you choose Ibadan as your setting in the book?

AAA: Like I said above, I just wanted to redeem the image of Ibadan as a place that was no longer producing books. Then, most importantly, the story came to me. It was inspiration merged with desire.


TT: What problems did you face when seeking for publication? Can you say KRAFT has done well in giving the book the necessary publicity?

AAA: Not many problems and I believe that is the root of all the challenges the book later faced. On the second question, the answer is No.


TT: You agreed KRAFT never gave the book the needed publicity it should have had. Where do you think KRAFT failed in making the book a reader's choice? Do you really believe a publisher's effort in advertising a book pays off?

AAA: Not at all. I didn't agree on anything.

I would not say Kraft failed in making the book the reader's choice. Kraft didn't give the book the needed publicity but I will blame myself 10 ten times before blaming Kraft. There are some things I should have known and done for myself. UTBRR is a reader's choice 99 times out of 100 from the feedback I have been getting. People love the book and when we are done with repackaging, we will distribute further.



TT: How has the book being doing on the shelf?

AAA: Much more than I thought but it could have been better if I had more exposure than I do now. I have learnt every serious lessons, bro.


TT: If you had known better than what you knew about publishing a book, would you still have given it to KRAFT?


AAA: I wouldn't know, frankly. But I do know that there are some things I would have insisted upon.



TT: Apart from the NLNG three years ago, what competition have you entered the book for?

AAA: After the book has been repackaged, I plan to enter it for some serious competitions.


TT: You implied NLNG is unserious in the way books are judged to be winners of prizes by saying the book will be entered for more serious competitions after its repackaging. Does that show your lack of confidence in NLNG? Why?


AAA: I don't have problems with NLNG. If I did, I would not submit my book to the contest. What I mean is that I will look for contests that offer you more than money. Nigerian prizes gives you money but not opportunities. I have not met a writer who thinks his/her book sold more because it was shortlisted for NLNG. That is not the fault of NLNG of course but then, I want a broader market.



TT: The book was among the eleven shortlists for the competition. How has that feat helped in creating awareness for the book?

AAA: It has not helped in any way that I have noticed.


TT: It's been a norm with contemporary writers now; they leverage on the power of the Internet to push their books to the readers. Do you think that encourages reading in any way? Why haven't you been doing that for Under The Brown Rusted Roofs?

AAA: I am sure putting a book on internet helps the book but what I am not exactly sure is how and to what extent. I could have done same for UTBRR but it has been off the market for a while. It was actually a tacit withdrawal and it was to help touch up one or two things in the book and then relaunch it. It will be concluded soon.


TT: You said UTBRR was withdrawn from the shelf/market because of some fallings in the book. What were the spoilers? Is it still going to be published under the same platform?

AAA: The editing was not properly done. We have corrected that and even changed the cover. Now, we have a new improved packaging. Yes, it's still Kraft.



TT: It's been three years since Under The Brown Rusted Roofs was published, the last creative writing True Talk read from you was a short story you did for ATE OGBON LITERARY CLUB in Osogbo. Are you presently working on any book? When should the next publication be?

AAA: I am done with a manuscript but it is currently going through levels of reading. I have given it out to members of the Jalaa and some have started reading it and giving me interesting feedback. I don't want to rush it. I hope by the end of the year, it will be done. If not, next year. No rush.


TT: Is it only going to be Prose as far as Abimblola Adunni  Adelakun is concerned?

AAA: Actually, I cannot say. I wish I can write poetry but it doesn't come to me like it used to. When I was younger, I used to write it but now, I don't feel it. I get distracted when I try to do plays so I gave up. Let's see, it might still happen.


TT: Give a sentence for the blog.

AAA: I love y'all. Where will I be without you?


TT: It's been good engaging you, Abimbola.

AAA: Me sef.



  1. What an interesting interview, thoughtful questions and well researched, just what an interview ought to look like. Nice work Joseph, you should really consider a career in journalism.
    I love the fact that serious issues were highlighted and you didn't lose focus for it was always about the book. Abimbola's column on Thursday is always the highlight of my Thursday.
    Nice work Joseph, I'm very impressed

  2. Thank you Scribe. I'm delighted you really found the interview interesting and insightful. About considering Journalism as a career, I will think on it. Thanks for coming around to read. Hope to see you again here soon.


  3. LanRewaju AdeWusi Opele OroSeptember 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    When You Have A Taste Of Honey Drop, You Feel Like Always Coming Back To Its Bottle And Never Like To See It (Honey) Finish. Written In The Most Simple, Self-Explanatory, Jiving But Creative Description, Ms Abimbola Has Really Done A Great Job In Melding Politics And Life Of The Agbooles In Ibadan, In Her Wonderous Novel, UNDER THE BROWN RUSTED ROOF! I Just Finished Reading The First Part Of The Book And I Feel Sad That I‘ll Soon Be Through Reading That Interesting Prose! As If The Owner Of The Book Is Not Me! As If Another One Should Be Out Before I Finish Reading The One In My Hand! As If I‘m Afraid That I Must Have Been Dreaming Reading The Book! As If Ms Abimbola May Decide To Force Me To Give Her Back The Book And Refund Me! Reading This Book, I‘ve Smiled, I Have Chuckled, I Have Grinned, I Have Giggled, I Have Laughter... Sorry, Laugh! Abimbola Adunni Adelakun Is A New Hope For Enthusiastic Female Writers Sprouting To A Height No One Can Define For Now. Under The Brown Rusted Roof Is A Total Package Of Creative Dispositions! I‘ll Never Stop Buying Your Books, Ms. I Am Your Big Hand FAN! Nice Job.
    True Talk, Your Interview Was Superb. Nice Job, Man!

  4. @Lanrewaju. Yeah, Abimbola's does write well to delight. I really enjoyed reading her book. It was a great experience. Thank you for reading and commenting. Thank you. Please, do come around again soon.

  5. Joseph, thanks a lot for bringing this interview. I have been following AAA, closely in Punch particularly on Thursdays. She is a very matured writer with brilliant write-ups. AAA is destined to go places. And joseph, this is a brilliant job you are doing here. I will join others to suggest that you take a shot at journalism as a full time career.You have no limit.

  6. @Wale. I also believe Abimbola will go places and she's already started anyway. What I just await is her next book.
    Thank you so much for finding the interview worthy. And I appreciate the comment too. Okay, maybe someday, I will consider taking a shot at journalism. Many thanks, Wale.

  7. I noticed the poor editing in UTBRR too but i enjoyed the book nonetheless. I am seriously waiting for her next book.

  8. Thanks for commenting. We are all waiting for her next book. She's a fine writer.


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