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April 09, 2013

Unyime-Ivy King: Meet Akwa Ibom's Best Female Literary Fiction Writer And Author Of "Burning Hurt"

Is “Burning Hurt” story fictional or a reality?
I can say this story is a literary piece of a reality report simply set with fictional characters. Like, I always say this story is a life story I heard during my years of service to the nation as a youth corps member. The story was told of a girl who got pregnant for a young man who denied the pregnancy. After birth the girl singlehandedly took care of the baby till the baby passed on and she in anger, pain and hurt stripped naked and cursed him. Therein lies the theme for my book “Burning Hurt”. I also remember hearing stories of similar experiences of men and women in terrible relationships where the men abandoned the women or walked away from them when needed most. I heard my family making a statement “many people have died because of this” after such a report was made to him. My dad may not now remember but that statement stayed on in my mind for a long time.
I simply played around the heart rendering story I heard, adding characters to make the story come alive and applicable in our time. Many young men have made life altering promises to women and revoked them at will not caring the consequence of their decisions on the other. So many young people have died because of deceit in different levels; they ended their life prematurely because they could not stand for the right. It may not be a literal death, but a death of dreams, and meaningful progress in life. This story may be set fictionally, but it is totally a reality.
Given the opportunity, is there any part of the “Burning Hurt” story you would have expressed differently?
I think for the character of Verity for instance, I feel I made her too perfect, well almost perfect in a way. If I am given another opportunity I would throw more light on her character and show some of her deficiencies not just her good parts. Looking back, I was too engrossed in the message I wanted to convey that I made her character just trod by smoothly. No matter how perfect Verity seemed she had her own flaws and just like she noted her imperfection, I would have made us realise how they looked. Subconsciously I guess I was projecting myself on to her character, because when my sister first read the book she noted her character and said this character is “you” me.
What part of your life’s dreams has writing “Burning Hurt” been? 
I have been writing from childhood, from when I was in Charles Walker International Nursery and Primary school and growing up living in the state housing estate in Calabar. If I had been publishing the stories I wrote from way back, I would probably have a library of books now (she laughs); we had a BQ that my friends and I turned into an office of sorts- like a literary club. One profound experience is when we organised something like a playlet and my father helped raise invites for our stage drama….now I cannot vividly place what went on that day as we had no script for our drama(she laughs) but we got a few people to come and that was it.
Writing has been a childhood dream that is a reality today.
What advantages did you have as a growing child that you feel our generation of youths are deprived of?
I have had so much advantage as a lady in my generation. We weren’t born with silver spoons as my parents were both civil servants, but they gave us the best of what they could afford at the time and above all, the support of parenting. Their favourite statement “my children are my investments” could be seen through the choice of nursery/primary school we were placed in, and the secondary schools we were moved into. The fact that despite their meagre earnings, our schools were the best in our time such that it was reputed that so many men in that time, would waited patiently for young ladies to finish out of that secondary school so they would ask for their hand in marriage. Sadly enough, this was before the decline of educational standards in schools.
Then despite their busy schedule, my parents made so much time for us. They did not just raise us educationally, they gave us the right morals and strong values that have helped my siblings and me to face a decaying world. I visited my grand mum yesterday and as I listened to a testimony she shared I could not, but remember the life of prayer we were set into, in times of need we prayed, in seasons of fruitfulness we raised gratitude. Yes, we may have had the best of upbringing but we also had our seasons and in those seasons the knowledge of God and the knee in prayer brought us through.
Today’s generation have been raised on the speed lane, everyone is on the move, everyone is headed somewhere, few are watching what is going on and less are setting the ancient paths for them to see and follow. Parents need to meet busy schedules, children are left with house helps, the media, the associations and lots more are depriving our children of their innocence. This generation needs a lot of mentoring and burning hurt will present the opportunity for such.
How does it feel to be an Akwa Ibom writer?
I am proud of my state of origin, I love my people and I love my roots. Some of us may not love to identify with our state, and would wish that we were born in some foreign clime, but first of all, I strongly believe that God does not make mistakes in situating us wherever we find ourselves, hence, we should not be ashamed of our roots; I am one person that sees the future of my state from where I sit and not only do I see the beauty I recognise the talents, the possibilities and the brightness of the future for our youths. Previously we were stereotyped as only being fit for domestic servitude, treated as commoners and brought up see ourselves as the minority. This is all changing now. My siblings and I are fortunate because we were not bequeathed with such a mentality, but we were encouraged to dream and aspire to greatness. Growing up, I met a father who was not just proud of his heritage but also a splendid writer and mentor; one who was a foundation for my reading culture, my mother was a woman of discipline so you could not afford to behave like a foreigner in our home nor revel in questionable morals. Every childhood misdemeanour was met with a strong hand of rebuke and discipline, so we left home with a strong sense of right and wrong, and of course, with a love for God. We spoke our mother tongue first, then “iko mbakara” English. We were encouraged then to identify ourselves with our tribe and culture and even as a mother, I do same with my children. Though I live in Lagos with my family and would want my children to understand and speak Yoruba, the lingua franca of Lagos, I also teach my children our Ibibio language, and already, my 9 year old daughter understands the language well. You cannot ‘sell’ her using the language, so to speak (she laughs).
Burning Hurt has by all means taken into recognition our tribe and culture. It is a literary acclaimed work of excellence, and is at the same time, morally acceptable to the dictates of the Christian faith. I want people to have an understanding of our culture and connect with us yet above all, I need them to come to the knowledge of Jesus as they read through the pages of my novel and also have a rethink of their lives, decisions and values. Akwa Ibom is where I come from, I love Akwa Ibom, my people are wonderful, my language is unique, and my culture is profound.
I might write some other novels I do not set in my culture but I cannot but identify with my people on this.
What would you say about your life now?
The way my life has turned out now, I must say is a function of what I have always desired my life to be, and what I have earnestly wanted to achieve in it. From my creation, God had reasons for creating me as I am and has predefined the blueprints in which I have stepped into. God had predestined my life from beginning of time; He started by bringing me into existence through the best of parents at His proposed time, years ago. He moved me through classrooms to train my mind through wonderful teachers and settled me in a place I call home with the most favoured of men- my husband Ubong. For each step of my life, I have prayed God’s guidance and I can only say, He has done great things. I am accountable for who I am, because I believe I was made this way for a purpose and I do not owe people for who God has turned me into. I am comfortable with the paths He is leading me through. For everybody, be they young or old, male or female, reading this, I believe there is a purpose to your life. Do not condemn the next person because of their experiences, because if you have not been through them you cannot imagine what they have been through. Some people say they have been there and have done that and I must say some have risked their lives and have watched it unfolding and God still is glorified.
My burning desire is to motivate young people to have a mind of their own and cause a u-turn in their moral character; I desire to see a generation of people who are bold enough to take a stand for what is right despite the moral decadence in the society or the popularly acceptable norm. I remember spending most of my university days reading and so by the time I graduated with a second class upper, I could defend my certificates but sadly, it is not so with today’s generation, as some children do not have a clue as to how they achieved their grades. I believe things can change, I believe our society can be better; I believe our morals can return, I believe things will work out for good.
Basically, this is the way my life has always been. I have had my share of ups and downs, but like you can see
I am still standing on the promises of God. To God I give all the praise.

Who has best motivated you?

This question each time poses a difficulty for me. There is no one person that has motivated me above the other. In my tribute I mentioned a whole list of people who have been there for me at varying points and steps leading to this all. I do not think I can mention one name to overrule the other from my mother who bought “the clash of the Titans” to my dad who insistently took us to the library every weekend, my class teacher Miss Utuk now Mrs Ukpong, who made me aspire for excellence, to my classmates, or my husband Ubong. They have all been here, they have all been a source of motivation, and they have all been the best in their inputs in my life.

Whenever you read “Burning Hurt” how do you feel?

My story gets me emotional at times because as I read I imagine what the young women of my time go through and how they are able to go through life with certain issues that can be very restraining. Like the character Itohowo, I imagine how uneasy her life would have been, the betrayal of trust by one who at a time seemed to be all that mattered, the pain of losing the baby, the only trace to her commitments to the man she adored and the so many other characters that make up Burning Hurt.
Some writers declare they do not read their books after pen has been put to paper, well I am old fashioned I still read my novel. In fact I have a personal copy so as people recount their testimonies on a particular character, I go back and read through the character.
How do your family members feel?
My children are young so their feelings may not really be expressed, but I can see them smile as they see their mother’s name on the cover pages of the novel then my son….. I do not yet know but I feel he will follow after my passion someday as one of those days he brought me a little book with the title “Junior Burning Hurt” and it made me smile. He writes me short notes like “I love you mommy…..”
Then I know my husband is so excited. He has inspired me a lot and has not let me lose focus. I think it is more icing to our love.
Finally, to the “BURNING HURT” reader……..?
It doesn’t matter what your experiences have been in life, it doesn’t matter where you are coming from, it doesn’t matter how hard your life has been, and for every glory tomorrow you need the story today. You are going through your process so you can help someone come out, everything doesn’t just happen in a day, and God takes everyone through a process.
Growing up, I may not have known God in the Pentecostal manner, or even known Him the way I do today, (and I am still thirsting to know more and grow in my personal relationship with God), I may not have had everything spring forth at my behest, but I knew one thing “God heard prayers” He heard mine and reached out to me each time. He is available; know God for yourself and in that time when it seems the world has shut you out, He will show up for you.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful...Keep it up. You'll start from the sky!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your kind words of encouragement- I appreciate them. Egor, I appreciate this. You will always have good support to help birth your dreams. Thank you, sis.

Egor Efiok said...

You are very welcome sis. Keep up the good work. :)

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