The book launch was a celebratory affair anchored by Lola Shoneyin in the Herbert Ogunde hall at twilight. With pride, she introduced the four writers published by her imprint; Dami Ajayi who wrote A Woman’s body is a Country, Ayobami Adebayo who wrote Stay With Me, Hadiza El-Rufai who wrote An Abundance of Scorpions and Nnedi Okoroafor who wrote Who Fears Death. The crowd clapped and cheered as each writer climbed the stage in tandem to Lola reciting their achievements.
To hasten it up Lola asked each writer how they wrote their books. Nnedi said she wrote Who Fears Death the night her father died – she was in the room his body had been kept the night of the wake-keep and she was thinking about how the dead body before her looked nothing like her father when something rose from the body and entered her, something she felt could destroy the room. Her mom came in and asked her to leave the room and she started writing Who Fears Death that night.
Ayobami said she was in a function when she looked up and caught the eyes of a late friend’s mother boring on her, eyes that were probably measuring what the girl would have looked like had she not died years ago.
Hadiza El-Rufai was inspired to write her novel from her experience working in an orphanage. Faced with these children who came from different backgrounds, she began to wonder about their notions of self and constructs of identity and it was from this her novel was born.
Dami Ajayi, in the midst of loud cheers from fans in the crowd, said that his poems were confessional. His reason for writing it was born out of the notion that you are a serious writer after your second book.
Each writer took turns to read from their work to vigorous applause from the audience after which Lola urged everyone to get a copy and closed the launch.