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Roli Hazel: ‘My writing, my life and what I think about Chimamanda Adichie’

Roli Hazel Oburo

Roli Hazel Oburo is a talented writer who has recorded impressive achievements at a young age. She is fascinated by Emily Jane Bronte, 19th century English novelist and poet, who is best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights. Roli Hazel says Emily Bronte is more herself than she is. And what does she think about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? In this interview with CHIBUIKE NWABUKO, Roli Hazel gives answer to that question and goes ahead to say that her book, A Penny For A Tale, is a product of looking for new ways to beautify her craft and make it interesting and relatable to all readers.
The Amazon bestselling author also narrates how she was really scared because of some people who attacked her.

Question: How far have you gone as a writer?

Answer: I am Roli Hazel Oburoh. I’m a writer. Author of 14 books. Amazon bestselling author. Internationally published by Xlibris, Bloomington, Indiana; currently most streamed audiobook/artist in that genre with 657,000 streams. Four books approved by the Ministry of Education, 4.6 star rating on Goodreads and a 4.5 star rating on Amazon. Fastest streamed audiobook with 8,000 streams in less than 24 hours.
And most read short story with 8,000 reads on “On the other side“; 2000 reads on old retrieved articles from 2016 and currently holding the most read and fastest read short stories.

Question: You’re the author of the popular and widely circulated ‘A Penny For A Tale.’ What inspired you to write the book and what message are you trying to pass across?

Answer: A Penny For A Tale is an epistolary novel. An epistolary novel is a novel read through the conversations of the characters. However, it’s usually with letters or in more advanced levels with text messages. However, A Penny for A Tale is written in WhatsApp format, which means you’re reading the entire novel in conversations between people on WhatsApp. It has WhatsApp chats, pictures, and even group chats.
So I generally attribute that to being creative and innovative in my writing, which I believe comes from a passion for writing and looking for new ways to beautify my craft and make it interesting and relatable to all readers. You should know that on Google, it’s currently referred to as ‘The first ever epistolary novel in WhatsApp format.” So that’s the inspiration.

Question: This book in question has been translated to over 10 languages and received 4.5 rating on Amazon. How do you feel about this?

Amswer: I’m so thankful to Yahweh. I’m grateful because I was really scared because of some people who attacked me.
I just started to speak publicly about this after literally shying away from it. There were envious people threatening to swoop down and punish me for every win. They literally bullied me spiritually. I don’t know who they are, but they were really horrible during the (Covid-19) pandemic. These people, by some demonic ability, could astrally project themselves into other people’s space, their privacy, and they could know almost everything about you. I was so shocked when they attacked me during Covid-19, and they would physically tell me things I did privately.
I knew they weren’t trying to psyche me or anything like that, they really had the ability to do that. I could feel them every time so I was really scared. Physically, they said they had big people, names you know like Adesua Etomi, Wizkid, Ariana Grande, and that these people were friends with them, so it takes nothing to kill anybody’s career. It was even worse because combine that with the spiritual ability I knew they possessed I was really scared. I just prayed to Yahweh and trusted Him and then He blessed me with my first car at 21. They couldn’t stop that so they can’t stop anything, so there’s no need to be scared of them. I published my first book I Love You -God. I was 21 and it sold out in twenty-eight days, and the first 200 print copies got sold out in 12 days; 195 copies sold out in one day. I’m really so thankful for that. Only God could have done that.
Added to this, they said they had the control of millions of people and would make them fight me, attack me, and frustrate me.

Question: One of your interests, apart from prose, is history. What was going through your mind when history was removed from school curriculum in Nigeria?

I am obsessed with history. I scored the highest scores in history and can say almost anything historical on the spot. To be honest, I don’t have an opinion about that. That’s beyond an objective, analytical, apolitical stance to take, and as a writer, I stick to being that, if you know what I mean. I don’t give my opinions on politics, religion, except I’m telling you what I do and believe.

Question. I don’t know if you would like to react to what is happening to the education sector in Nigeria today and what benefits or dangers it portents for the younger generation and the country?

Answer: No I wouldn’t. I’m sorry.

Question: Juxtaposing two female writers – Emily Bronte and Chimamanda Adichie, how will you describe them in terms of resemblance or otherwise. And who are your role models?

Answer: With all due respect, I don’t think Emily Bronte and Chimamanda can be in the same sentence.
My role models are Shakespeare, Micheal Jackson and Emily Bronte
Emily Bronte is more myself than I am. I love her and everything she represents. I literally talk about how I used to say “When I die I don’t want to end up in heaven and I don’t want to go to hell either”. I got introduced to Emily Bronte and read things she said that I say now and I never heard anyone say because people constantly disagree with those. It’s weird because how she was described is still how I’m described till date. I have no love for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, so I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible.

Actually, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie cannot be compared to Emily Bronte for everything she represents is different. I’m not being judgemental but once I asked two teenage girls “Do you know Chimamanda” and they were quick to nod in the affirmative but when I asked if they knew, I didn’t say if they read, Half of a Yellow Sun or Americanah and they said they didn’t. So here, I think she’s a publicist before being a writer. I think she just has massive publicity owing to good social media management, and she also doesn’t have a fan base.

Chimamanda for me, capitalised more on an era when writing wasn’t associated with Nigerians and I usually tell people that for me it seems like those ‘Akproko’ people that say “Oh I think I can do this better” and they do because it’s in their nature to out-do, not necessarily a deep understanding or love for whatever it is, in this case literature. And there were mostly female writers at that time whose works were more known than they were like Dizzy Angel almost everybody read the book but they don’t know who wrote it.

So Chimamanda came with something more imposing, I guess . That’s not to say she’s not intelligent, she is intelligent enough to put herself in the middle of the literary world and refuse a different opinion to “her” and not a different opinion to what she thinks. I’ve read all Chimamanda’s books, and I can literally quote lines, I mean sentences she made in her books, I have also watched almost every lecture she gave, and that’s still my opinion.

Question: Finally, you have been living a quiet life despite the feats attained, I would like to ask, are you in a relationship?

Answer: For my personal life, I’m really quiet. I don’t really have much of a social life. I don’t do clubbing or parties or anything loud.

I love writing, thinking, and observing, and I love reading. I love strolling, I mean, cool evening walks. I love eating. I like to go to the cinema and I have very few friends.
For things I don’t like. I hate dogs, and I can’t stand them. I don’t like animals in general.
I’m not in any relationship. I have never dated anyone. I went to an all-girls school, Presentation National High School, so that couldn’t happen there. I’ve had an unreasonable crush on Aubrey Drake Graham and still believe I’ll end up with him (laughs).

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