On February 8, a Facebook flash competition which had held readers spellbound for weeks, simmered to an end. The Flash: BlackOut had seen many writers – heavy, middle and lightweight alike – battle in two-man duels for the star prize of One hundred thousand Naira (courtesy of Dufil Groups) and a Lenovo laptop (courtesy of … you guessed it, Lenovo). Well, it simmered down and up from the battleground rose one winner – Ife Olujuyigbe.
By winning this competition (7th in the series of The Flash contests), this ‘Yoruba girl with a big smile, and a prominent pair of fine eyes’ broke not just a number of sweet hearts, but also her fair share of records. Because we will never let the juicy gist pass you by, Words Are Work tracked and tracked and tracked … and finally tracked her down in her Nigerian residence (mhmm). The WAW time-out started off on a good note with Ife flashing the ‘WAW sign’ (above), and everything went uphill from then on.
Read the interview below and please show the champ some love by commenting and sharing. Cheers.
Tell us about Ife.
I’m just a Yoruba girl with a big smile, and a prominent pair of fine eyes. Haha… Okay, so basically, Ife is unassuming and unpredictable. I stand somewhere between indoorsy and outgoing, I’m up at night and asleep in the morning, I have no best color or food or whatever it is people have bests in. I studied as a Chemical Engineer and currently work as a writer.
How did you start writing? When?
It began in primary school. I won a series of essay competitions back then, and got school prices in English too. I’ve always been fascinated by words, and so every step of the way, I wrote. It’s a good thing I started getting rewarded for it pretty early.
What do you write?
I write everything. I remember between 2010 and 2013, I did a lot of poetry. I went on to perform them on several platforms all around Western Nigeria. I also dabble into non-fiction from time to time, essays and articles on lifestyle. For example, I did a write-up for The Scoop two years ago, an analysis between Ghanaian and Nigerian universities. With some research, any category of writing can be explored.
At the moment, I write more fiction than anything else. And I challenge myself to go into genres I would normally not write about. I have written thriller shorts, futuristic sci-fi, fantasy, romance, humor. I won’t claim to be great at them all, but at least I try them out. My forte? That’d have to be humor. But every day, I keep discovering new things about myself as a writer and tomorrow, I just might be hung up on scribbling thrillers.
Why did you enter for “The Flash: Blackout”?
As I wrote in my winning ‘speech’ on Facebook, I entered because I was encouraged by a dear friend to. More like forced, even. He told me he would not enter if I didn’t, so I did. We both made it. And I’m grateful he did what he did.
What was your reaction when you made the blacklist?
Okay. There’s a little backstory I wouldn’t I want to bore you with, but I was somewhat indifferent when I saw my name on the Blacklist. A part of me felt good for being accepted out of a host of entries. And the other part of me went, ‘Choi! Wharravai done?’
You were one of the new ‘soldiers’ in “The Flash: Blackout”. You had to battle some Flashville bigwigs, including Soogun, the reigning champ. Were you at any point scared, or uncertain?
Hahaha… I’m not sure I fell into the ‘new’ soldiers’ category though. I was in The Flash: Eclipse in 2015. I made it to the Quarter finals. I have also been in a number of flash fiction duels on Facebook before now and won some, so I doubt I can be tagged ‘new’ or ‘unknown’.
That said, I was not particularly scared. I was going to give my best, and I think that was what counted. And when I decide to give my best, I don’t go down without a fight. So that was the plan. Fight, or die trying. Erm, not literally, of course. At some point when I got beaten in the Hellimination rounds for a silly oversight I made, I began to feel uncertain. But that didn’t last very long, thankfully.
So you ended Soogun Omoniyi’s unbeaten streak and entered an all-girls’ final. Did you see that coming, seeing as you and Emem were the only females left at some point in the competition?
Well, I saw me coming. Emem is no pushover, neither are Hymar and Soogun, and neither am I. I knew it could be anyone of us to make it out of the semis. Any of those pairings were probable. But I believed whichever way it went, I would rest knowing I’d given my best.
Which of the duels were your three most memorable? And which is your favourite among your stories?
You mean of my duels or the entire Blackout? Okay, I’ll just do both. My top three in the Blackout would be (1)Emem vs Hannu’s horror duel. (2) John Jako vs Hymar’s Love lost duel. (3) Atie vs Aito’s duel (can’t remember the theme now). These were the ones I found the most intriguing of the lot.
Of my duels, I think I liked the one I had against Soogun the most. It was longer and deeper, and the picture prompt spoke to me. Normally, I would write three to five stories for each duel, but for that, I wrote only that one story: Razing Hell. I attempted another one, but just couldn’t go through with it. Razing Hell spoke to me in a way not many of my stories have. I loved it.
You were reputed to be quiet but effective during Flash7. Was that a tactic or is that the everyday you?
Hehe… I guess quiet is relative eh? I think I can be quiet, basically because I don’t readily subscribe to bragging or horn-blowing. I’d rather my work speaks for itself. That’s the everyday me.
What does “The Flash: Challenge” represent for you?
Winning The Flash: Challenge for me is a validation of what I have always suspected: I can do anything. The pressure to deliver, the harsh critiques, the intimidation, the hype… a lot of these factors can get you to run and hide in a cave in Mexico and never return. So for me to have dealt with all of these and won, it means there really is no stopping me.
Have you heard of Words Are Work?
Yes, I have. I have checked the site up too and I love what I see. I particularly like the name. Hello, words are a lot of work! It’s not enough to ‘sabi English’.
A little bird told us “The Flash” will be shutting Facebook down again sometime soon. Will you participate, or is this it for you?
That same birdie told me too. And you know what I said? Wow! Aww! Eeya! That’s good o. Well, I’m sure you know the rest. =D
What does the future hold for Ife?
The future is bursting with opportunities and bigger wins for that girl. And you see, because she is so ‘quiet and effective’ she would just tell you to wait and watch out. Let the future speak.
Words Are Work … and fun too!