Exclusive Interview With John Chizoba Vincent
Whyke Anthology: Hello, can we meet you?
John Chizoba: My name is John Chizoba Vincent, a native Nkporo in Ohafia local government area of Abia state. I am a music video director, filmmaker, editor, Poet and Author of four books: Good Mama, Hard Times, Letter from Home and For Boys of Tomorrow, a collection of poems that talks about life and struggles of boyChild in the society.
Whyke Anthology: What spurred you into writing in support of the boy child?
John Chizoba: I actually started writing about the girlchild sometimes ago but at the long run, I discovered that there are this set of people out there that needed my voice more and more since everyone out there are talking about the girl child and these set of people are the boy Children. And something happened sometimes ago in my area. There was a police raid. A friend of mine was arrested that night and he was taken to the police station. The next morning, we went to bail him. We were waiting for the DPO when a young man of about 18 years old rushed into the police station panting. He was afraid and confused. When he was asked what happened, he told the police men on duty how he was gang raped by some young ladies in the campus. The police men boast out laughing. Annoyingly. They made him look like a fool in his own misery. They mocked him and told him that he enjoyed the act. One of the men actually asked him how on earth could ladies rape a man. He was ashamed of himself, dejected, he walked out of the station crying while the police men mock him. I was angry and I could not spell out the anger welling in me. This incident birthed the “Boys Are Not Stones” tale. If you look around you, we have many organisation or firm that write and talks about the protection of the girl child which no one is doing for the boychild also. We failed to understand that these boys pass more issues in life than the girls. The society stereotyped them to be super humans who are not meant to cry, laugh, rejoice and still remain boys. Showing your weakness as a boy makes you a woman in nature that is what the society made us to believe. You have to be strong outside to prove to them that you are man even when you are dying inside. I wanted to let the boys out there to know that they can still cry, laugh and show their weaknesses and still remain boys. Boys are not robotic humans who need manuals to be trained. They have their emotional flaws, they make mistakes and they have feelings just like the girl child. If all fingers point at the door or the entrance of the girl child, what then happens to the boyChild? Are they not humans too? They get raped too. Boys get raped too! But on whose voice are they going to tell the tale without mouth mocking them?
Whyke Anthology: What are your aims in writing specifically for the boy child?
John Chizoba: I don’t write only for the boychild. I write to rewrite the ills of the society. I write against any evil that the society has made normal. As a writer, I believe the main purpose of writing is to rewrite the evil of the society because you are the mirror through which the society sees itself. You can write about love and hatred, you can write about anything you think of but remember, your major calling as a writer is to solve problems. You are a problem solver and solution giver. Give solutions, pass a genuine message to the society, leave a mark no one can erase. That makes you a writer of great repute. There was was a coupe after Chinue Achebe released his book ‘A man of the people’. They all thought he was among the people who planned the coupe but no, he wasn’t; he was a prophet. He foresaw what was going on in the country. So, I don’t specifically write for the boychild alone, I write to rewrite the ill of the society.
Whyke Anthology: Was there ever a time you hesitated about writing on the boy child?
John Chizoba: There was never a time like that. I have a dream of giving those boys shattered in the street a voice. When the fire started brewing, some called me a misogynist, others said I was gay whilest others said I was only seeking for cheap attentions but I knew what I was doing. I could remember that she( I don’t wanna mention names) wrote to me that fighting for the boys won’t land me anywhere. She was a feminist. She attacked me but I didn’t fight back till date. One thing about life is that nothing good comes easy, you have to fight to change many people personal perceptive and perspective on a subject. You have to loose yourself and still remain yourself, you have to fight the society itself and still have your sanity back. Nothing comes easy as long as it has to with chnaging people’s thinking and orientation about a subject. And their beliefs.
Whyke Anthology: Has there ever been a point in your life whereby you felt its not worth the continuity?
John Chizoba: No. Like I said above if you have a dream and vission that you crave for, you must stand on your ground no matter the vices fighting you. Life itself is a battle ground and you must get ready to fight on until you win. The only incident that made me wanna quit then was when my first two books I ever wrote was burnt by my mother then in 2003. I could have love to explain thisin details but I won’t because it is a private life I have vowed to keep. Another incident were the hunt for publishers in Lagos, the disappointment and despression and the abuse and neglect by the publishers. I could remember a man then threw my manuscript on my face and called me a fool.
Whyke Anthology: What changes do you wish to see occur due to your writings?
John Chizoba: I want to give voice to the voiceless people out there including boys and girls. Man and woman who have been left naked in the cozy street. I want to tell them that there is hope and chances for them to stand on whatsoever they believe in. I want to put smiles on people’s faces through my writings and show them the way or how they an achieve their dreams. I want to create an opportunity to people through my writings and to fight those who have participated in making us shed unwanted tears.
Whyke Anthology: Please can you shed light on the strategies you intend to take in your continuous support of the boy child?
John Chizoba : I will be shooting films portraying these gory details of boys in the hands of evil women and men out there. I will also be creating awareness to other boys in the street helping those I could reach out to and I will be writing more articles to educate them on how to speak out in case anyone molest them. I am planning of organising a conference that will include girls and boys or probably boys only to educate them on the issues at hand. (smiles) this might be a little hard to achieve but by God’s grace, it can be achieved. I think some non governmental organisations can support or sponsor this if necessary arrangements is made with them.
Whyke Anthology: What are the things you think can foster and yield a better result of this great support you are giving?
John Chizoba: (smiles) finance. You know money is the backbone of many dreams. I will say a journey of thousand miles start with money. Aside money, I think educating some of our ignorant parents is key also. Some parents tend to train the girl child more than the boyChild. They take maximum consideration on the girl child than the boys. Educating them will be key. Let start raising Humans not genders.
Whyke Anthology: How do you feel after Pioneering the “Boys Are Not Stones” Anthology?
John Chizoba: It was great having people pour out their mind. We actually have many people who are dying in silent. Who are being tormented by their past or who are being tormented by what they’re passing through in the hands of their pastors, house help, mothers and fathers including their Aunties and uncles. I could remember the first time I wrote the first episode of Boys Are not Stones, someone reported me and I was blocked on facebook for three days. After that, I wrote the second episode and posted it, facebook blocked me and the third one was the same and the longest. I was blocked for one week by facebook because someone was reporting the post. But it got to a point that they had to accept it that boys are not really what the society made them to be.
I will not forget the likes of Jamiu Ahmed, Stefn Sylvester (SSA) who worked with me to see that the anthology came out well. And to the publisher, Michael Ace of AceWorld Publishers. He is a great man. He called to tell me that he loved what we were doing that he would like us to publish an anthology and I said yes. I spoke to Jamiu, Stefn and they loved the idea. And to all that contributed, it was a massive one. I had 350 poems sent to my email and that of Jamiu. And many stories I could not count. I was happy, so much happy to have involved myself in it.
Whyke Anthology: What are your plans as regarding the already released anthology?
John Chizoba: Hmmmmmmm. We still bank/sticks to the free distribution of the anthology just to create awareness and pass a message across to people who are still ignorant of what is at stake right now. At least we have much people who have sent in their message of how good and great they found the book to be. We planned to do it bigger next year probably it will come on hard copy once the finance is there. We still have the plan of telling the world that boys are not stones with the distribution of the books across to readers all over Nigeria and the whole world.
Whyke Anthology: What writers do you also look up to?
John Chizoba: I don’t really have a particular writer or writers I will tell you I look up to. Every writer is good and great in his or her own way. We see things differently and so we write things differently and the best thing you can do for yourself as a writer is to read all writers and study them. Don’t just say you look up to this set of people and abandon the others. Art is life and it has to do with individual lives and how they pattern it to achieve a common goal. Every writer out there is my favorite and I look up to each and every one of them in the quest of building a life and a dream.
Whyke Anthology: Thank You for your time.
John Chizoba: Thank you so much for having me here. I am most grateful.