“Don’t let anyone tell you that your youth means that your perspective of the world is not valid – Chibundu Onuzo, in her interview with the Barbara Kasumu”
Chibundu is a Nigerian novelist whose full name is Imachibundu Oluwadara Onuzo. Born in 1991 as the youngest of four children to a Yoruba mother and an Igbo father. She spent her childhood years in Lagos which would have an effect on her books and moved to England at 14 to study at an all-girls school. She has always had a passion for writing since she was a little child and at the age of 17 she started writing her first novel, the Spider Kings Daughter.
But when she tried to get an agent she got rejected at every turn until she managed to get an agent at 18. Getting a publisher was another feat as most people turned their nose up at Onuzo writing a book at such a young age. She eventually got a publisher at 19 making her the youngest female writer signed by Faber and Faber who have published books like Lord of the Flies, Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
She published her first book, The Spider King’s Daughter at 21 while still in college. She has a first class degree in History from King’s college, London and a master’s degree in Public Policy from University College, London and is now studying for a PhD at King’s College London, so we know she is as smart as she is beautiful.
She was selected for Hay’s Africa, Africa39 list of Sub-saharan African writers aged under 40 with potential to define future trends in Literature.
She has written two books;
SPIDER KING’S DAUGHTER: Chibundu’s debut novel about people from different sides of society. Abike is the seventeen-year-old daughter of a wealthy family, who lives in a mansion and can have anything she wants. She meets Runner G, an eighteen-year-old hawker living in the city slums and from there an unlikely romance starts to blossom. But with that the past comes calling as secrets are revealed and they must decide where their loyalties lie.
“I looked at her face while she was bringing out her wallet. She passed me a two hundred naira note with a smile that showed perfect teeth. It would have been so easy to sprint off with her money. I gave her change before placing the ice cream on her palm. Someone else would have to show her that the world was not filled with honest hawkers and unicorns” – Excerpt from the Spider King’s Daughter.
Spider King’s Daughter won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas prize and Commonwealth book prize.
WELCOME TO LAGOS: Chike Amoebi, a military officer deserts the army with his colleague Yemi and decides to go to Lagos. On the way they meet Isoken, a vulnerable young woman, Fineboy, a rebel fighter and wannabe DJ, Oma, a woman fleeing from a rich abusive husband who are all headed to Lagos in search of a new life. They arrive in Lagos but are soon pulled into a political scandal and are forced to make a decision that changes their lives and those around them. Welcome to Lagos introduces you to the sprawling city of Lagos where the hustle is real and if you are too slow you might get swallowed up.
“Bravery was to dash out of the bomb shelter and grab the child left crying on the veranda. Courage was to go to the stream the day after a bomb had scattered your friend on that path because water must be fetched to sustain the life that was left. Everyone saw bravery but courage was in secret” – Excerpt from Welcome to Lagos.
When I first learnt about Chibundu I was full of admiration. She is one of the youngest internationally known Nigerian authors having published her first book at a young age with a famous publishing house. I was both envious and inspired. If she could wade through all the rejection and criticism on her being too young to write a good novel and still come out on top then what is my excuse. Although times have changed as the world is more open now.
I’m quite glad with the emergence of female Nigerian authors internationally in recent times. Keep up the good work Chibundu and keep rocking that amazing natural hair <3 .
Have you read any of her books, if you have what are your thoughts about it? Let me know in the comments.
Till next time be safe everyone. 🙂
Images taken from Chibundu Onuzo Instagram page.
Interview with Barbara Kasumu can be found on The Telegraph website HERE