Exclusive interview with Miss Angel Nduka-Nwosu by Truth Zombie

Angel Nduka-Nwosu is a poet, editor, writer and activist who was born in Lagos, Nigeria.
Her work has appeared in a number of journals and online sites including Ake Review, Random Thoughts, The Audiri, The Girls Like Me to name a few.
She was the recipient of the award of Best Spoken Word Artist at the 2017 edition of the Nigerian Teen Choice Awards.
A self proclaimed African feminist, she was awarded the Best Position Paper at the 2015 simulation of the African Leadership Academy Model African Union. This was for her paper on eradicating Maternal Mortality in The Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
Recently, she cofounded an African feminist organization called As Equals Africa which has the empowerment of the African female at its core.
Currently an English Major at Babcock University, she curates a African feminist literary blog called Afrocentric Musings(afrocentricmusings.wordpress.com) and is also a contributor to the teen blogs The Audiri and Green Black Tales.
She tweets feminism, faith, literature and pop culture @msndukanwosu.

She was the guest writer for our blog for the month of February, where she published a number right interesting articles:

October Rush (short story)

To Submit or To Not Submit

Woman Choose Thyself: Thou Art Not A Liability

She recently sat down to an interview with Truth Zombie, and here’s all she had to share:

Truth Zombie: so tell us something about yourself?

Angel: I am a Christian, I am a feminist, I am a poet, and I love reading. I am a pan Africanist. I love all black consciousness movement, because they are all of relevance; so black lives matter, Afrocentric movements, negritude, pan Africanism and stuffs like that basically. I love listening to music, and I love natural hair. That’s why I am on a natural hair right now (laughs)

Truth Zombie: great. Before we talk about your writing, let’s talk about your beliefs and convictions. What do you think spurred you into the direction you’re taking? More specifically, your pride and activism in upholding the black culture and women’s rights. Were they any experiences, or this started as a general awareness?

Angel: okay well, for pan Africanism, I have always had pan Africanist ideas, but it was when I went for a conference in South Africa, which centered on how to advance the African continent. It was an African leadership academy. It was a simulation of the African union, and I was to write a paper on maternal health mortality in Mauritania.

When I got there, I got so many ideas about Africa and black people in general. I have always been proud to be African, but when I came back that I decided to start referring to myself as a pan Africanist. I was already a feminist before I went for the conference, and the conference helped because I started linking my feminism to my pan African movement

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Truth Zombie: let’s talk about your writing. Your writing is why you’re here in the first place, and truth be told you write very well. When exactly did you realize that writing is what you love, and decided to pursue it?

Angel: like I said earlier, I read a lot. From my younger years, my parents always made us read. My dad is a journalist and my mom teaches English, and because of that we were always reading. One of my earliest memories is that of my dad making me recite a poem in the parlor for doing something wrong. That was one of his punishments; he would make us recite a poem and if we didn’t get it right we would keep redoing it…

Truth Zombie: was it effective?

Angel: It was effective, because they were really long poems. I can’t remember the poems exactly, but one of the names was pitaka. Even after I outgrew the age to be punished like that, that mentality still remained.

For a long time I thought I was going to end up being a lawyer. If you’ve noticed I talk a lot, and I am very vibrant. When you are vibrant as a child, especially as a girl they tell you that you must be a lawyer. It wasn’t until something happened to me and I started writing about it, that the flair for writing began to take solid form.

Before then I was writing a lot; very long non-fictions, courtesy my dad who constantly gave me books to review. But then something happened in 2013. In 2013 I was physically assaulted by a boy as usual. I was bullied, and I got diagnosed with a mental illness. After that, trying to make sense of everything that was going on, I started reading like I hadn’t read before and started writing about it.

The more I wrote, the more I realized that this whole lawyer thing was basically people’ ideas projected unto me, and that was when I told myself that because I enjoy writing, I am going to explore every angle there is to it, and I would use my writing as a way of fighting against injustice. I started writing poetry actively in 2016 when I left my secondary school, Corona.

Truth Zombie: when you started writing, what was the response from those closest to you?

Angel: yeah they were like “o wow, this is nice, this is good. You can do better, much better than this. What about your diction? What about your vocabulary?” You know, the basic regular stuff

Truth Zombie: concerning your views and ideologies, is it safe to say, judging from your previous write ups published on the blog, and impressions in general, that the strongest or most dominant of them, is feminism?

Angel: yes and no I would say. I don’t think of myself as a feminist before a pan Africanist, or as a pan Africanist before a feminist. I am not a black African before I am a woman, and I am not a woman before I am black African. I am all these things at the same time. So, my emancipation as a black African woman, is tied to the emancipation of the entire black African community. If a war breaks out between maybe Nigeria and Ghana for instance, it would affect everybody first of all, before it would affect women more. So as an African feminist, I am not just fighting for women’s right, but I am fighting to ensure that political issues that affect women more are eradicated. To this we have corruption, wars, tribalism, and racism. These things affect us more as black African women, and we have to fight on that ground to take it away. And also, I can’t ignore my womanhood, because that is who I am. So now, you can see that they are all intertwined

Truth Zombie: what exactly do you intend to achieve with all of these? You are involved in a number of wars, If I should use that word: War against male dominance and supremacy in the society, war against racism and some others. What do you intend to achieve, and at what point would you get to before you believe you are successful.

Angel: hmmm, deep question. I think the basic goal of the feminist movement, is for women to be able to live their lives without anyone telling them “you can’t do this because you’re a woman” and even for men too. One thing people don’t understand, is that this whole patriarchy and sexism thing affects men too. For instance, we define masculinity in a very small way. If a boy for example, wears pink, all of a sudden we are shaming him and asking if he is gay, and I am thinking to myself “what does being gay have to do with what color he chooses.” You can then see that the whole patriarchy system is very stereotypical to both genders!

Men have the highest suicide rate, and I believe this is from a lot of pressure being put on them in a patriarchal society. So you see that all these things are really intertwined. My major goal as a feminist is fight to ensure that nobody has to go through physical violence or sexual violence. The major goal of being feminist in summary to me, is to create a world where the word ‘feminist’ would not be useful anymore, because feminist values would be so ingrained into our system that there would be no need for the continuous usage of the word, and if you say you are feminist, people would look at you in surprise. But right now, there is a need for it.

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Truth Zombie: in regards to these movements, have you gotten hostile reactions from people with differing opinions?

Angel: (laughs) very well.

Truth Zombie: share some experiences

Angel: although I cannot remember most of them clearly at the moment, they are usually from twitter, because I write actively on social media. What eventually grows into an article, usually start from these write ups on my whatsapp and social media platforms. I remember one time, I came back from an exam tired, only to see that one of my friends has sent texts as long as fourteen broadcast messages to me, insulting me, because of something I had put up on my status. Some other times when I write things relating to sex, I get statements such as “you are a hoe, you are not wife material” and to that I say yes I am not wife material. Or they say things like “do you want to have children with the way you’re going?” Generally, instead of focusing on the work itself, they attack my person.

Truth Zombie: you made a statement that you are not wife material…

Angel: yes I’m not wife material

Truth Zombie: would you explain what exactly you mean?

Angel: (laughs) when I say I am not wife material, it is simple. Whenever people ask me “are you wife material?” or “yes you are a feminist, but would you still do this and this and that for your husband?” what they really mean to ask is “is your feminism humble enough for you to labor freely? For you to give up your rights to have an opinion, and for you to not have a say in marriage” and that sort of thing.

The definition of wife material in our society now, is a woman who labors freely. A woman who even when stressed out, would labor for the man, often with no reward on her path. A woman who gives up her right to have an opinion like I’ve said earlier. So some people define wife material as a woman who stays with a cheating boyfriend. I do not want to use the word doormat, but most times when I hear boys say a girl is wife material, it revolves around her being a good cook, knowing how to clean, and similar qualifications. All of these things are not bad; it is a good thing to know how to do these things whether as a man or a woman, but even more than just doing domestic work for many men, wife material is a woman who is docile, who is not assertive, who does not question, and who sits down when told to sit down, and I am not like that. I am very much outspoken and expressive in my attitude.

Truth Zombie: Do you look forward to getting married some day?

Angel: I guess so ‘

Truth Zombie: what do you envision to be your ideal kind of marriage?

Angel: my ideal marriage is one where we both support each other to be our best selves. I feel any man who is coming to marry me, should be coming to push me to be the best version of the god in me. And my cheat code, which I want to share with every girl who reads this interview, is that when a man is coming to your life, understand that he should be coming to add to the peace, love and joy that you already have, the emphasis being on ‘already’. He should not come to remove, neither should he be coming to take away your mental health.

This is the reason I don’t acknowledge most of the boys who approach me, because they are toxic in the way they see girls

Truth Zombie: from a general perspective, going back to the wars being fought – feminism, racial equality, drug abuse, liberalism, amongst others, there are beliefs that there are people who fight these wars, or pretend to fight these wars because of how sophisticated it makes them look, and not because they understand the gravity of these wars. Recently Truth Zombie blog published a post on these issue. What do you have to say about this?

Angel: I won’t lie, there are some feminists who do not understand the depths of it. Even as a feminist, I have to acknowledge the fact that there are some feminists who do not acknowledge black women and working class women. There are special privileged white middle class women who do not acknowledge black women, and we must address this. You can’t say you are fighting for every woman, but yet you are underpaying your maid on the basis that she is black, or of working class.

However, there are still the real ones who understand what is really going on and should be encouraged. There are feminists who get into feminism because they want to see change. The only person that I know of, whose getting into the whole feminist movement was opportunistic, was Taylor Swift! Because clearly, feminism was as still is becoming this trend, and this should not be!

Feminism is not a trend. On the average, the real feminists are working to uphold equality. I don’t think any of these is a trend and I don’t think anybody should treat it as a trend or a club or party where only people who speak English and use big words can attend. I mean, before English came into our midst, of lot of African women; Igbo women, Yoruba women and others, were fighting for equality, but were not necessarily calling themselves feminists.

You know as Africans, there are certain things we don’t give names to. Something like homosexuality for instance, even though it has existed on our continent for a long time before it gained western mainstream media attention, we do not give a name to it. Same thing goes for feminism; we talk about feminism with euphemism, but it doesn’t mean the action of upholding feminism hasn’t existed in Africa for as long as Africa has existed.

Feminism therefore, shouldn’t be a club or a tea party. It shouldn’t be a club of women who think they are better than others. It should be about eliciting change and all that comes with it.

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Truth Zombie: going further, when you are not writing, what other things do you enjoy doing

Angel: I enjoy reading, sleeping (laughs), eating (laughs again), going through blogs, Instagram, and Twitter, because ultimately all of them give me inspiration to write.

But sometimes I take a break from social media because it gets really distracting, especially when I’m in school. It can also affect ones mental health, especially Twitter, because you read all these stories of assault and abuse and bullying, so sometimes you just have to take a break. Sometimes I take a break and just log out of my twitter for like three to four days and it is really helpful

Truth Zombie: as a writer, do you experience writers block?

Angel: Not really. I’ve never experienced any major writers block. What actually happens is that I would have an idea, and I wouldn’t have a place to put it down, and by the time I have a place to put it down, it doesn’t come out as well as I wanted it to, and it doesn’t reach that peak I set for it in my mind. Even though people still talk about how nice the piece is, it doesn’t level up to the expectations I had for it.

Truth Zombie: You’re already doing something powerful with your writing. What are the farthest places you see your writing abilities taking you to? What are the greatest things you want to achieve with your writing?

Angel: I want my writing to basically inspire people to look inwards and question everything they have been taught. I want my poetry and prose to make you question everything on gender you have been taught. I want my writing to encourage women in particular to begin to acknowledge the fact that they are not inferior to anybody. For a long time women have been taught that they are second place to men, and I want my writing to encourage all the girls like me to really understand that their worth is not in how they can trap a man, but is in how much they can inspire another woman to be her true self, and in how much they can give back to the society.

For where I see my poetry going; by God’s grace, if everything goes well, I should publish a book. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I should publish a book. I am also beginning to explore spoken word poetry. In 2018 I am looking at doing more gigs and more performances

Truth Zombie: painting a vivid picture, where do you see yourself in the next ten years

Angel: I should have published a book and started something of my own. If I am not doing that, I would probably be lecturing, or I would have gone into theater. I have always tried to explore that angle. I know I can act, but I haven’t really done much on that. So I go into theater. I could also possibly end up doing everything.

Truth Zombie: just before we bring this interview to an end, can you give us a sneak peek into what your love life is like

Angel: I am single, and not ready to mingle (laughs) well right now I don’t want a relationship, because it is a very big distraction to me

Truth Zombie: relationship being a distraction, is it personalized to you as a person, or do you mean this from a general perspective to person your age?

Angle: it is personal. If I date anybody, it would most likely be a student in my school, Babcock University, and Babcock is already stressful, to add another problem to it. Already, my day has a much regimented order. Once I come back from lectures, I go for the evening programs. When I am done, I go back to my room, have my bath, take care of my hair, read a book, and go to sleep! So I don’t think there is space in my life right now for any relationship

Truth Zombie: but have you had any romantic encounters that are memorable to you? Any experience that left an impression…

Angel: what are you trying to do with this conversation? (Laughs) yeah definitely I’ve had people I liked

Truth Zombie: is it something you would want to share?

Angel: no it is not. I have had people I liked, then people that did terrible things to me. I have had people I liked, but weren’t able to give to me what I believe should be love, and I think I am willing to…I don’t want to use the word ‘wait’ (laughs) But the mood I am in right now, I am just living my best life, and if a man isn’t coming to fit himself into that life or take it somewhere better… I am trying to be the best person for myself right now. I am trying to be self-sufficient, and all of that.

Truth Zombie: you said you haven’t seen anyone that fits into your definition of love. What is your definition of love?

Angel: my definition of love is viewing someone or something with great value, and being greatly attracted to someone. I am a Christian, so my definition of love is often tied to God and the bible. 1st Corinthians 13 is very key to me in defining what love is. Love for me should bring joy. It shouldn’t be one where you are constantly worrying if he is cheating on you, or if he is going to slap you next.

It is something that wouldn’t force you to do the things that you do not want to do, and would not view sex as something where he conquers you. Love is not a situation where he has sex with you and then goes about telling all his friends. Love is supposed to be conjugal, because in our society we have taught women especially, that love is about giving, and never about taking. So they give to men and never expect to take from men too. And not just materially, but they never expect the men to do nice things, make sacrifices, and all of that.

Truth Zombie: So what parting words do you have to people who read this, in regards to the way females are currently treated in the society?

Angel: There is a line that someone said, I don’t know exactly, but it goes thus: “No nation can rise higher than its woman”. If women are empowered, the society would be empowered. Literally, the economy would be empowered. If we encourage women to have businesses and support women in careers, the society would be happier. We must also encourage girls to be self-sufficient as human beings, to love each other, and support each other. That’s one thing I would always keep saying.

One of the things that men have succeeded in doing, just like white people have succeeded in doing to black people, is that men have succeeded in creating a lot of strife among women. If two women for instance, to use Cardi B and Nicki Minaj for example are in the same career, such as rap music, we begin to compare stupidly, and to ask if they can coexist in the same career. However, we have a lot of male rapper with ‘lil’ in their name; lil pump, lil this and that, basically singing the same thing, and nobody is questioning their craft or their ability to strive together. As women, we should support each other fiercely. I don’t mean supporting each when we are doing something bad though.

I don’t tolerate someone slandering a woman simply because she is a woman. As a writer, I want to have something that just encourages female writers. I already have a network that I and a friend of mine, Shalom Esene started together. It is a network of feminists and activists, and we plan on taking it to greater heights to include NGOs and magazines, so that’s the kind of thing I am talking about.

Men should also understand that women having more rights than they currently have in the society, doesn’t mean that their own rights as men would drop. All it means is that they would be held more accountable, and being held more accountable would be to their benefits, because everybody would be happy. If there is transparency and more accountability, nobody would come around with false rape accusations; men wouldn’t be shamed for their dress sense that isn’t conventional to stereotypical definitions of masculinity, and they wouldn’t be under any pressure to be successful simply because they are men!

As Africans we should also celebrate the African woman, not just as a mother, but as a full human being.

Truth Zombie: Finally, as a writer whose work is beginning to gain widespread recognition, and whose voice is beginning to be heard, what advice would you give to upcoming writers who aspire to such greatness and more?

Angel: Read. As a writer, you must know how to read. It’s very fundamental to writing. As an English major already, I have to take to reading. Reading is very instrumental. It is the way you hear from others, get new words, and all of that. You must also learn how to write, even when you don’t feel like it at the moment. Whatever is on your mind at any point, also put it down even if you are not disposed to write at that time. You should also have a network, to support other writers. Support each other. So the conclusion I would say, is to always read, and always write.

You cannot connect with Angel on social media using the links below:

Instagram!

Twitter!

I would love to know what you think