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Daniel Ogba


First Language(s): Igbo, Pidgin English
Second Language(s): English


Daniel Ogba is a Nigerian fiction writer. His works explore the fabrics of human existence, particularly family and queerness. He has writings featured in Everyday Journal, Ile Alo, and elsewhere. He won the 2020 Kreative Diadem Prize in the flash fiction category.


What was your favorite book as a child?

It wasn't a particular book. The Macmillan English language textbook series had some of my favourite stories when I was a child and in primary school. I didn't have access to a lot of books growing up, except recommended literature which weren't mainstream back in the day, and, sadly, are no longer in existence — The Day Kunle Woke Up Late, Tolu and Her Dog, etc. — I don't even remember the authors, or their publishers. I loved reading Bible stories at Sunday School, the pictorial representations made them more appealing. Then, at the start of my teenagehood there was Richard Wright's Native Son, Chukwuemeka Ike's The Potter's Wheel, Eddie Iroh's Without A Silver Spoon, and Amma Darko's Faceless. I mostly borrowed these books from schoolmates who offered literature. I had to read some of them with harriedness, I didn't finish a few. I'd fall in love with Adichie and her poignant descriptions of Nsukka in my first year of university.

Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?

So as a result of not having enough books to read at home, my niece and I started out writing our own stories, drawing inspiration from the ones already in our English textbooks. We'd share these stories, read them together, write more. It was an exciting experience. Then I began taking my “story book” — blank A4 pages glued together with cardboard paper — to class. I'd reluctantly have classmates read the stories and their steady kind remarks offered more ginger to keep writing, my imagination soared. I had really nice, attentive English teachers, too, who always invited me to write more essays because they thought my assignments were promising. Grief, as I'd discover later on, was my chief motivation. After my father passed, constantly writing about/to him seemed the only way possible to trap his essence in real time.

What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?

I'm not so big on adventures. But now that I think about this question, hard enough, a certain memory surfaces in my mind. It's one of scaling the fence with my brother on many Sunday afternoons, against our mother's instruction to observe siesta. We'd fly the pointed, rusted steel bars of our compound into the next one, then make our way to a field not far from home to play football with other boys. Oh, yes, there's another one! I think it was in 2009, the UEFA champions League finals. I snuck out with my brother at night, in a new red shirt my mother had bought me for church. We went to a viewing center to watch the match, two hard-headed midgets. We sat front row. My brother was rooting for Barcelona, I, obviously, Manchester United. I honestly didn't care much about football, I just wanted to watch Wayne Rooney dribble. Barcelona won. My brother taunted me endlessly on the way home. It was past our bedtime. At the gate, our mother sat patiently in the darkness, waiting for us to return, a cane in her hand.

Do you listen to music while reading or writing?

I dislike interferences. My brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so I don't listen to music while reading. With music all my senses are engaged. Same with reading and writing, I am completely immersed in one particular state, mood, emotion. I allow myself travel between pages across scenes. I can't achieve the full measure of, for instance, an emotional passage in a book with, say, Burna Boy blaring through my ears. With writing, however, it's almost the same, but only when I'm putting down the words on paper/screen. Deep in the trenches of a story. I need full focus. I only listen to music when I'm not actively writing, but piecing a story or character together in my head. I think you can tell who a person is by the kind of music they enjoy listening to. Music helps better introduce me to my characters. I create a playlist of songs I think a particular character in my story would like, and I play the songs on repeat, vibe or sit still, and wait for their image to come full circle behind my eyes. It's almost a sort of ritual.


Short Story
When Trouble Calls Home
Issue Fall '22

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