Thursday, August 20, 2009
"How I wrote my debut book: Enemy of the State” – Maxwell Perkins Kanemanyanga
Maxwell Perkins Kanemanyanga is a new author; yet he is already an award winning author. His debut book, ENEMY OF THE STATE has garnered the “Mangaung Up and Coming Author of the Year (2009) Award”. Here he speaks to S Botsime on his love for the world of writing…
How do you feel to have your first book published?
I feel very happy because it has been really a long walk. I have published stories in newspapers before but ‘Enemy of the state’ is my first imprint in the literary world, which is a very humbling experience for me because many great men and women have travelled this path before me.
How long does it take you to write your short stories?
It does not take long at all. It took me about a month to finish these ten stories and already I have stories that would be in my next book hopefully by next year.
You are based in Bloemfontein, who are the writers who have impressed you here?
I have not been here for very long and I am still learning about many writers. I like the mind boggling columns and articles of Seleke Botsime (smiling; as he’s referring to the Interviewer) who has just published his first book, ‘Blasphemy’, the writings of Pule Lechesa and others. However the writer who impressed me most is Mr O Bolaji. I really love his book, Thoughts on Free State writing where he bemoans and laments the lack of reading culture among black people. To quote from the book: “For many [black] Africans formal education is a means to an end. If I can get a tertiary certificate, better still a university degree, it is an open sesame to a good job and comforts. Hence it is in no way unusual to see many well educated Africans whose ignorance is frightening. Many of them have read only prescribed text books along the line and have hardly broadened their minds” Africans are rich people but all these years we are just beggars standing our mineral and other resources. We have to change our way of thinking and living. The first resource of any nation is its people. Take for instance DRC, it is very rich in Coltrane used to make laptops and cell phones but its people its people are refugees scattered all over the world. Our education is not fulfilling its purpose. The purpose of education is to teach us to think intensively, critically and to equip us with the power to think objectively not just read prescribed text books and boast about certificates hanged
What inspired you to write?
Growing up in a family where I was the only boy, I took to books so early in my life. This was like a habit to me, and as I grew older I became an avid reader. My main areas of interest were biographies and philosophy. I read biographies of Dr Martin Luther King JR , Gandi, Mandela , Biko , Fredrick Douglas , Bob Marley , Mother Theresa, Tiger Woods and many more. I read philosophy and my favorite philosopher is Socrates. Besides these two areas I also read novels of Dambudzo Marechera, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer and many others. One day I was coming from Blackstone Primary School when to pick my young brother Prince when I met Mr. Garan’anga. He stopped me because I was holding a book. We talked and then he showed me his work place. I went back to see him and he gave me books to read. This became our routine until one day he asked me a question I could not answer. “After all this reading what do you want to do?” Really I didn’t know. I told him I will become an actor like my hero Denzel Washington. Mr. Garan’anga told me that I was a writer. I only knew how to write essays at school. However he told me not to fight myself, “just cool down”. I did like that till one day I woke early in the morning and wrote my first story that was published in the Teen Column of the Herald. I then started writing articles to many newspapers like Sunday Mail, Daily and Sunday Mirror, and the Daily news which was later banned. With the advice of my friend, Philip Chidavaenzi who was a journalist I enrolled at Christian College of Southern Africa. In 2006 my piece “Africa needs justice from the west not democracy lessons” was nominated for the Lorenzo Natalie and European Commission. The following year in my last year at school, I also published an article: “We badly need moral salvation” in the Zimbabwe Independent that was nominated for the Lorenzo Natalie Prize.
How did you get in touch with literature?
When I came in South Africa I was introduced m to Mr. Bolaji a renowned writer. I was used to writing letters and essays, so I did the same with him. Then one day he told me to diversify as a writer. He said I could start by writing poems or short stories. This is how it all started…now I have published a book of fiction! Great!