Interview with Mai Nasara winner of 2011 NLNG sponsored Nigeria Prize for Literature $100,000 cash prize for Literature

Introducing Adeleke Adeyemi aka Mai Nasara, the Author of The Missing Clock, winner of 2011 NLNG Prize for Literature, which goes with a $100,000 cool cash reward.

My dude is $100,000 richer today, who wouldn’t love this cool cash to be deposited in her or his account? But the first question is how many people have the discipline to start a project and see it through? Reality is not many people and so when people get to achieve a feat such as writing a good book, they deserve to be honoured.

The Missing Clock

I decided to interview Mai Nasara not because of the $100,000 alone (even though I don’t mind a piece of the action Smile)  but because he has accomplished something great and this blog is all about telling the world about folks who have accomplished something great, whether they are Nigerians or not. I have known Mai Nasara for a couple of years now, I met him through a good friend, Joseph Awotabe (friend him on facebook) and since then we have been good friends. Mai Nasara is a member of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (Amuwo Apple Chapter, Lagos.) and happily I invited him to join this great body of laymen working for the Lord Jesus Christ.

I clearly recall the day he testified in the fellowship how people tried to get him to remove the bible quotation in The Missing Clock because according to them that may get him disqualified, he refused and said let God’s will be done. Today, God’s will has been done……

In the words of the judges;

“Mai is a gifted story teller. He explores the consciousness, emotions and actions of a child in a fascinating narrative distinguished by the simplicity of its themes, ideas, language and style. Indeed, this is a loveable and credible novel that endorses family cohesion and responsible parenting that would guide children to become imaginative, well-motivated and balanced individuals.”

So now that you have a background knowledge of me and Mai Nasara, let’s jump into the interview but before we begin, I want you to promise me that you will buy this book right away for just N500 here in Nigeria or buy it online at Amazon, please let’s support this writer and also teach our children good morals through ‘The Missing Clock’ (*no affiliate links whatsoever)

Tell us a bit about Mai Nasara

I am journalist and science communicator called Adeleke Adeyemi. I’m taking refuge in my pen name, Mai Nasara. Refuge from what, you ask? Time will tell. Yet, as singer-songwriter Mary McKee penned, Heaven holds all the answer that Time will never tell.

What was growing up like for you? How did it affect the man you have become?

Besides listening heavily to the radio, I grew up cultivating my own vegetable patch, nay small-scale farm! So I’m not fazed by procedure and due process. Rather, I’m a stickler for procedure; something I learnt most abundantly from the various science experiments I was guided through at Government College, Katsina (GCK). Then briefly at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife, and more extensively while figuring out various aspects of Geology at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. Hence you’ll find me to be both literally and metaphorically down-to-earth and environmentally inclined. My book The Missing Clock is, literally and metaphorically, a down-to-earth and environmentally inclined story.

How does it feel winning $100,000?

It feels good and I am happy about it. It would make me sit up to write, write, and write! When you know for a fact that there’s nothing you have that has not been given you, then you can only
ask yourself, as Apostle Paul admonished, ‘why do you boast as if you’ve not been given?’ I have merely been given a story to share.

Tell us a bit about the book that landed you the prize & what inspired the writing of The Missing Clock?

The title of the book is the Missing Clock. My inspiration comes from a desire to draw attention to the difference children can make. And thus make a difference for the child. Children have an astounding problem-solving slant in their thinking that adults have been taking for granted and thus untapped. I’ve been involved in their lives in various capacities: Sunday school, summer school literary/environmental awareness campaigns, etc.

I have always wanted to give children a story they’ll be self-motivated and enthusiastic about to want to share with family and friends. Hence my story had to be anchored on a truism. The Missing Clock is a Reversal of Fortune, or ROF, story which illustrates the aphorism that the hour just before dawn is the darkest. Put another way: it always gets worse before it gets better. Stories are equipment for life. To be forewarned is to be forearmed about the wilderness standing between Good and Better named Worse!

How long did it take you to put The Missing Clock – from writing to publishing?

Something like 3 years. But that had more to do with overcoming logistical challenges than the act of writing. The raw material for the story came with me from Inwala Quarters, Katsina, as observations into the vastly improved latter life of a hitherto struggling Niger Delta egbon there, to Gbagada, Lagos, where an idea jumped out at me during a brain-storming session with my memoirist friend Kunle Kasumu.

With children being your target audience, what message do you hope to convey? Do you simply wish to regale them with a thrilling tale, or send a more serious message?

I am on a mission: to get people, starting as children, using language correctly and communicating – not sounding off or haranguing. We no longer talk to each other, or hold conversation; we now merely retort. Language at its most vigorous and robust is when it is expressed as story. And story remains, in my opinion, the best way to inculcate a sense of process and also to transmit values – what have been lost somewhere along the line in our societal evolution. Someone has said: ‘The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them’… from which I have written a song:

Why do you write children’s books rather than pieces aimed for adults?

Although I actually write for both, I definitely do have a bias for the former; it is the same with my reading. I am with Mohandas Gandhi here:

‘If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.’

And start we must with ennobling narratives, stories that inform and reform — until what seems to be the status quo: imitation stories that deform and detract from what it means to be human.

What does this award mean to you?

It’s proof, I think, of promise and potential. As my 70+ Canadian retired teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) friend, Diane Jones,

‘You definitely have talent and the story is indeed timely. Your English is excellent.’ It’s really nice to have a second opinion, one from some highly regarded a panel of judges; and one so resounding… with the promise of abundance of rain, if you get my drift!

What should we expect from you in future?

I’m working to grow things into a Reversal-Of-Fortune (ROF) series, as a distinct subgenre or category of Children’s Literature. Next in line is ‘Danfo Boy’, the story of an 11 year-old bus conductor, Sylvester, and his driver, Baba Sadiku. My collection of poems for children, ‘The Baker’s Dozen’, has been ready for a half decade. I hope to write film scripts with radio’s theatre-of-the-mind quality for production by major Hollywood studios, preferably animated. Of course, my network of libraries for children. Books written are meant to be read.

What advice do you have for those desiring to have their works shortlisted in the future?

Don’t desire to have your work shortlisted; instead, crave to have an audience that will feel short changed not hearing and heeding your voice through your works.

Lessons from Mai Nasara’s Accomplishments (in writing The Missing Clock)

  1. Follow your passion – Mai Nasara is a scientist who loves to write. Indeed, his passion has made him popular and rich.
  2. Believe in yourself – when others tried to put ideas in your head, follow your heart or the leading of God.
  3. Trust in no man – Mai Nasara is young man that puts his trust in God.
  4. Remain humble – so far (and alway I believe) he is still the same humble guy I know.

You can buy the Missing Clock for N500 a copy. Feel free to contact me or better still click here to friend Mai Narasa on Facebook.


About the Author

‘Adeleke was raised in northern Nigeria, starting in Katsina, where he attended Government College, Katsina (G.C.K.). He was at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife, before dropping out to enroll at Ahmadu Bello University (A.B.U.), Zaria to pursue a degree in Geology.

He is married to Wosilat Abolore and they have a daughter, Semiloré.’


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