Unini Mosimabale is a certified Human Resource manager and also an Associate of Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (ACIPMN). She is the author of The Call published by Emotion Press.
In this interview with Zainab Akande of Book Republic, Nigeria, Unini talks about how her struggles in NYSC camp inspired her to write her debut and, the struggles an average Nigerian youth during the mandatory National youth service.
BOOKREP: How has living in the Federal Capital Territory inspired this story?
UNINI: Well, living in FCT Abuja for me has been a wonderful experience. Compared to where I lived before, the cost of living is relatively higher in here. However, I live with my elder sister and her family so during my NYSC, a lot of my expenses were cushioned by my sister. The inspiration for this story came when I tried to calculate how much I would have been spending if I didn’t have a family member with me. I would have had to pay for rent, feeding, health insurance, transportation and much more. I know a lot of corps member who had to cover their expenses. While some had parents that could support them, some had to hustle their way through. The Call tried to capture this struggle.
BOOKREP: Captain Bagro, the cute unmarried soldier, and Adanna the innocent damsel; are these characters real or one of those fictitious actors in acclaimed Prince Charming and Cinderella stories?
UNINI: 😅 They are fictitious characters although, some of the experiences captured in the book are real experiences. Like the camp experience (the drills, the hostel, the food, queuing up to collect allowee etc.), the struggle to get a Place of Primary Assignment (PPA) and the everyday life in Abuja as a corps member.
BOOKREP: How has serving Nigeria as a young graduate helped give this story the needed form and theme of the book?
UNINI: Contrary to some opinions that NYSC should be scrapped, I believe it is a crucial time for every Nigerian. For me, NYSC was a transition from childhood to adulthood. It was a time for me to see the world for myself, gain relevant experience in my field, see some of the problems in Nigeria that I can fix and above all it was a time to give back to my country. My CDS was sustainable development goals (SDG) and during that one year, I went to orphanages, IDPs, market places and many more to give and talk to people. I was excited to be a part of their lives even if it was just for a short time. As a youth in Nigeria having experienced some things and identified some loopholes, I believe Nigeria has a lot of great minds and potentials. Despite what we see on the news and the situation in our country, I love Nigeria and look forward to contributing to its growth.
BOOKREP: What were the challenges encountered during the writing process?
UNINI: Actually none. Once I have an inspiration to write a story, it is usually a seamless flow. My best friend had an idea and she shared it with me. She told me that since I write, I could start an NYSC short story and share it on my platoon group chat. I told her I would think over it and one day, the story took form through the help of the Holy Spirit. I started sharing one chapter per day on my platoon group chat and after about 5 days in, I received a lot of responses. People started asking for the next chapters ahead, some shared to their friends and the rest is history. Prior to this I usually write free stories on my blog and on watt pad. When a lot of people responded, I was motivated to keep writing more chapters to meet up with the demand. I also got a lot of feedback encouraging me to publish it. So I refined the story and here we are.
BOOKREP: What do you have to say to authors seeking to publish in the nearest future?
UNINI: “Keep pushing and do not give up. One day your dreams will come true.”
I had sent this book to so many publishers hoping they will sign me but none of those publishers did. I knew my story was a very good one so I kept at it despite the setbacks. After the third or fourth rejection, I decided to self-publish. I later discovered Emotion press online and selected a package that was budget friendly and suitable for me.
When I received my complimentary copies I held on tight to them and cried because after dreaming of it for so long, I could not believe God had made it happen. If I had given up I wouldn’t be right here. And this is just the beginning! We are going for best seller with hundreds of thousand copies sold. I believe God will make that happen too.
BOOKREP: Should we be looking forward to a second novel anytime soon?
UNINI: Yes, please! I already have another book completed and about two more in the works.
Thank you for your time. I wish you all the best in writing career.