‘Anger is Great for Writing.’ Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu’s First Draft

Poet, essayist and author of ‘When We Talk of Freedom’, Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu, believes anger is great for writing. She finds that anger ‘makes the futile exercise of trying to be careful while writing, fall away.’

Our questions are italicized. 

What books or kinds of books did you read growing up?

I read all kinds of books. From Enid Blyton to George Orwell, to Chinua Achebe, to Shakespeare. As a child, I was surrounded by adults whose tastes in books were eclectic yet wildly different. Growing up, I had a mother who was a student of literature as well as an enthusiast of African literature, and so her book stash ranged from Mariama Bâ, to Chinua Achebe, to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Wole Soyinka. I had uncles who were into romance books. I had a principal at junior secondary school who was a writer and was the first person to tell me I talked like one. He took it upon himself to make sure I became one. It was he who introduced me to classics. The libraries of the schools I attended were mostly packed with Enid Blyton and her peers (did she have a peer really?!). There were also the Harlequin books we exchanged among ourselves as teenagers.

So, I did read all kinds of books; but I did not read all these categories at the same time. I moved from one to the other as I grew older, and so I have come to associate particular kinds of books with certain phases of my life. They were like backdrops. It’s also, perhaps, why I have come to view books as mentors and guardians, they were the compass pointers I turned to when I had questions about life, emotions, history.

What phase would you say you’re in now and what books are your backdrops?

I think...

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