A Konnect Africa Interview with Yerima Dina, the Second Prize Winner of the I Know a Nigerian Star Writing Competition.

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Last week, it was Somtochukwu Metu, the third prize winner of the I Know a Nigerian Star writing competition. A really inspiring interview I assure you.

Today, it’s the elegant Dina Yerima, the second prize winner sharing great insight on a range of issues. Her winning entry was centered around a dear friend who defied polio deformity and went past her limitations to carve out a beautiful future for herself and give hope to many.

What inspired Dina to tell the story of this Nigerian star? You’d find out if you read on.

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Kindly tell us a bit about yourself- family, ethnicity, educational background…

My name is Yerima Dina, I come from the Etsako speaking part of Edo state in Nigeria. The second of three siblings, I have always had an abiding affection for stories both oral and written and tried my hand at weaving them. I just recently acquired a master’s degree from the University of Nigeria in English literature; the same field in which I have a bachelor’s degree.

How did you find out about the “I Know A Nigerian Star” Writing Competition and what was your motivation for entering?

I found out about the “I Know a Nigerian Star” writing competition from a friend at school. She encouraged me to write and give it a try, citing her own experience as an example. The fact that she had participated in this competition during its inception and emerge among the first three was motivating. I decided it was a worthwhile effort and put in an entry. Another motivation which I had was a friend who I considered to be a Nigerian star and whose story I felt should be put out there.

Guide us through your step to step approach in delivering the award winning story.

After I got my subject, writing was pretty easy as Ojochenemi Omata who I wrote about is a friend of mine and has been for quite a long time. I wrote the essay and sent it in then informed her about it knowing that she will not hesitate to agree to it and support the idea. Winning at the last level however was not easy. I had to mobilize my family and friends to vote for my essay and inform other friends of theirs.

What considerations did you use in coming up with the subject of your essay? Why do you consider him/her a Nigerian Star?

The guidelines I used in coming up with Ojochenemi Omata as the subject of my essay include her physical challenge as a sufferer of polio deformity in her speech movement and other cognitive activities. I consider her a Nigerian star because inspite of these challenges she preserved to obtain her first degree from the Ahmadu Bello University and through it all, maintained a cheerful disposition. Some other individuals would have given up on acquiring a degree after wasting about four years.

How did you feel when you emerged as the third prize winner of the competition?

When I emerged as the second prize winner of the competition, I was happy to be among the first three and a bit sad that inspite of my campaigning efforts I didn’t not make it to first place. I was however relieved that the voting process was over and I could finally stop asking people to vote for the essay on social media.

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Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

In ten years’ time, I see myself as a writer with several good works to my name. I also see myself at the top of my career with students who look up to me as a mentor.

What is your motivation in life? What keeps you going?

My motivation in life is God and time. As nothing lasts forever and all is subject to change, I try to gear my energy towards achieving positive changes. What keeps me going is faith in the good which could come out of situations which seem hopeless and totally bad.

Any mentors or role models?

On mentors and role models, I have several for different situations. They include Jesus Christ of the Bible, Chinua Achebe for his vision, Wole Soyinka for his love for and expression of culture, Flora Nwapa for her exposure of the strength and role of the African woman amongst others.

What advice would you give young writers and future entrants in the “I Know A Nigerian Star” Writing Competitions

My advice to young writers and future entrants of the “I Know a Nigerian Star” competition is to be true to their stories, to look for and capture the beautiful in everyday life and situations.

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If you had the opportunity to take just one socio-economic problem in Nigeria, which one would you focus on and what would you do?

If I had the opportunity to tackle one socio economic problem, it would be that of illiteracy and too little education in the Nigerian society. I would encourage and provide incentives for school goers in order to increase the percentage of educated Nigerians. This will consequently result in a more enlightened ergo more progressive society.

Inspire a young African in one sentence.

I therefore say to the young African; take greater pains to achieve what you want to achieve.

Any questions, comments or insights? Kindly share in the comments section below.

Have a lovely day!

© 2016, Lovelyn Okafor. All rights reserved.

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