EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW :
“THERE IS NO BOOK EVER WRITTEN IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND LIKE DARKSAND” – JEWEL FITILA
Author submits that many Scientists and Environmentalists will begin to use Darksand as a reference point on many climate change issues.
This Exclusive Interview captures the creative effort of a young man who has put in everything in creating a master piece prose fiction, perhaps the first science fiction novel to come out of Africa. One obvious theme captured in the book with two distinct covers but same content, is the discourse on environmental sustainability from a unique perspective. Who is this man? And what is the book that is beginning to get a resounding acceptability both online and offline?
Jewel Fitila is the name of the author. The indigene of Ondo State, south west Nigeria is a creative writer, composer, concept developer, poet, artist, and author of the first science fiction novel in Africa titled Darksand.
Ola Awakan of Artourey engaged him to find out the motivation behind the scope of Darksand, the novel.
Prose as a genre of literature seems not to have same acceptance and patronage as drama and poetry in this part of the world, how true is this from your perspective?
I do not agree. The problem is that we have restricted ourselves so much to what we think the people wanted and have ended up giving the people nothing at all but what we assumed they deserved. I am willing to introduce the people to something they wanted and needed that have not been available for a very long time until I came into the picture.
Let’s bring it down to fiction as a sub genre of prose, do you think this is well appreciated in Nigeria?
The need of humans are ever-evolving and to assume people will not appreciate something because it’s new is denying the fact that people grow and need to step into terra incognita.
Jewel Fitila is often perceived from the angle of an artist and artiste, what is the drive towards prose beyond poetry that you have been doing over time?
I have been writing all my life and you will agree with me it’s easier to write a poem than to write a novel because novels take time. Most of the books I will be publishing in time have been written over 10 years ago and the reason you are just seeing them today is the failure of the Nigerian system. If you don’t have enough money to make it happen, it will never happen and then people assume it’s not there!
Dark Sand looks exciting from the cover. Take us through the content and the message
Several mass extinctions had taken place since life began on earth. The major causes of these annihilations are given to conjectures and imaginations because mankind never witnessed any of them. Since the industrial age, humans have contaminated the atmosphere, land, and sea. Little did they know that they were at the brink of an imminent extinction; not from outer space, not from nuclear warheads but from the quietest, calmest, and most complex organisms; Plants. It was the year 2030 that numerous conflicts had eaten into the fabric of the earth, nations gnawed on each other like packs of rabies-infected dogs. With each defeat fueled by pride and the quest for glory, nuclear-powered bombs were used and radiation began to spread, killing billions of people and reshaping continents and the way of life of those who managed to survive. Africa was almost wiped off the map and was labeled, “the radiation zone” where life ceased to exist. They called it “Dark sand”. Unknown to the world, there were some survivors; People confined to a small town in a forest. Five of which stood out as warriors. No one who left the town returned alive, there was something about the trees, grasses, and twigs; something that took centuries even with all botanical research and knowledge. Mankind did not know what plants were capable of until it was too late. The ecosystem was fast depreciating and this triggered something in the plants, something that had happened several times but was unknown to humans. Their only chance of survival was to wipe out mankind. How difficult could that be, knowing we completely depend on plants to survive? The book simply dives into evolution in plant and so many other things that masses don’t even know plants are capable of.
Why your interest in environmental sustainability?
Our environment is a very critical part of our existence and if we don’t protect it, we are insidiously putting ourselves and our family in danger in the long run and we don’t want to underestimate the roles of trees in the ecosystem on a global scale.
There are many novels addressing this theme, what makes Darksand unique?
I will assure you there is no book ever written since the history of man that has ever approached this theme the way it’s addressed in Darksand. As a matter of fact, many scientists and environmentalists will be using Darksand as a reference point on many climate change issues from now on. You can take that to the bank.
In the course of putting this material together, you must have encountered some challenges. Did they threaten the eventual release of the book?
Everything in Nigeria is a threat to success especially to intellectual properties. One of the basic setbacks was light. That was when I was writing the book over 15 years ago. Unfortunately, we are in 2021 and that part of our lives has not changed! I had several options of publishing the book abroad but I thought about it and a part of me wanted it done here. There was no publishing company to take the project without cutting off my head and after ten years I registered my own publishing company El Fitila International and published my own book! Took a lot from someone that has nobody but God was enough for me and this is proof! If I looked at Nigeria and the economy, Darksand won’t have seen the light of day and that’s one thing I want those at the helm of affairs to think about because they are killing the future of this great nation while they are busy empowering thugs and bandits.
Many writers would have chosen to publish such book outside Nigeria.
Publishing the book outside Nigeria is the very first option for any sensible individual for so many reasons. For one, your book won’t be struggling to survive and you might spend the rest of your life living on just one book as a billionaire but that odd in Nigeria is a fairytale but I have published Darksand as the first Science Fiction novel ever written and published in Nigeria and Africa and things are about to change in the kind of books we read and push in this country. I did this for the generation to come to know we have so much to write about and we don’t need to follow the norm when we can create our own path.
Tell us about your must favourite characters in the book and how adventurous are they?
My favorite character in the book is an entity called Truth. Truth sees all, truth knows all, truth remains immutable no matter how long lies reign. Aside Truth, all the characters are exceptional especially the dwarf that the whole world took lightly but turns out to be the only person with the solution to mankind. Each of the characters are a phase of our lives and we will see ourselves in them as we read along because Darksand is the story of the world and we are to choose if we will survive together or die alone.
What more do you think can be done to help create a sustainable environment for all?
Talking of a sustainable environment, we cannot have a sustainable environment without sustainable development. Nigeria as a nation has decided not to grow and develop for reasons I cannot understand. The government keeps taking us 20 years backward. If in the 21st century we are still talking about open grazing and cattle roaming our cities and the government thinks those opposing such acts are enemies of progress, we need to vote such government out of office as soon as possible. Most importantly, the sustainability of our environment depends on us as individuals, if you treat the streets like you treat your living room we will have a better environment naturally but we know we have a lot of dirty people all around us too, that’s where the government comes in.
How optimistic are you that people will be interested in devouring the content of your book?
Well, it’s general knowledge that black people don’t have a sound culture about reading but I don’t believe it’s true because we are the first people to start writing and that means we created writing and reading! We may have lost this because of so many persecutions and tribulations but given the right atmosphere, we can revive that part of us again. Secondly, I realized that most readers today became readers because of curiosity and that means if you give them content that appeals to their curious mind they will naturally want to see where it ends and that’s Darksand! Darksand is intentionally written for those that hate reading so that after reading it they won’t be able to stop the habit but to read even much more.
Where can the book be found physically and online?
Darksand is sold in Nigeria by El Fitila International, which is my publishing firm created to publish all my books and the books of a lot of young writers that Nigeria did not even know exist. I know some of them are reading this and I want them to know El Fitila is ready to help publish your books and launch you to the world. You can order your Darksand copy by calling me on +2348028233120. We will send your book to you anywhere in Nigeria and Africa or you can buy directly from Amazon by searching for Darksand on Google or use this link:
Don’t forget that Darksand comes with two distinct covers, am sure this is the first time people are having such choices. Yes! We want you to have a choice on which of the covers you like and want and that’s why we took the extra time and effort to create these fantastic covers. We named them ‘Tribes’ and ‘Fire eyes’ and you don’t need anyone to tell you which is which.
For budding writers who want to take up a career in fiction writing, what’s your charge for them?
For budding writers who want to take up a career in fiction: you are welcome to the world where you can create your own universe and global events and I don’t see any reason why you would let anyone stop you from such greatness and excitement! Secondly, I have decided to help upcoming writers in achieving their dreams by making the entire process easier. After Jewel Fitila I don’t want people that are writers see me up there and just dream to be like me but I want to help them get there now! When I started I wanted to be the youngest writer in the world and here I am publishing my first book after 40! Never will I let that happen to anyone in this country under my watch. If you are a writer and serious-minded all you need is follow Jewel Fitila on Instagram and my Darksand page on Facebook.
On a final note, what is that unique thing about Jewel Fitila that the world does not know yet?
I am many things to many people and above all an enigma. People need to know that Jewel Fitila is not just a writer but an extremely creative individual in many ways, for example, I am into music. I write and compose my songs and it’s not just in words, my songs are on all music platforms globally including the Apple music store. All you need do is search for Jewel Fitila music and you will have more than enough for your money. I am also an artist. I create most of my concept art myself. I can draw and paint and I am incredibly awesome at what I do.